ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, July 18   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Migration
Do Christians in your country have a Bible-based understanding of how migrants should be treated?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jack Barentsen
 

US Elections: Outrage or Reconciliation - A Matter of Identity Leadership

Reconciliation requires sacrifice; it is costly and is humbling. But it is the only way to construct the identity of a nation that fosters peace, generosity and prosperity.

INSTITUTE - LEADERSHIP AND ETHICS AUTHOR Jack Barentsen 10 NOVEMBER 2016 16:25 h GMT+1
Anti-Donald Trump protesters in New York after the election. / Getty

I’m not sure whether to feel relieved or fearful about the outcome of the US elections. I just returned from almost 4 weeks in the US, and have had many conversations about the elections. Everybody was deeply concerned about the future of the country, for various reasons.



Nobody I talked to liked either candidate. I learned quickly in these conversations that I do best to simply listen, because emotions run high and sober discussion is challenging. Sometimes even families are seriously divided over this election.



Most of my friends are evangelical and Republican, and they were surprised when I told them that many in the Netherlands favor Clinton. Not that my friends like Trump – quite the opposite – but to them Clinton is an even worse nightmare. They spoke in apocalyptic terms in case Clinton should be elected – as Clinton supporters do about Trump’s election. What strikes me is the level of fear and suspicion towards the 'other' candidate – it is nearly tangible. Each side magnifies the deficiencies of the ‘other’ candidate and minimizes the deficiencies on one’s own side. The ‘character assassination’ committed by both campaigns didn’t help the matter any.



In the end, my friends voted for Trump (I think) because they feared Clinton more than Trump.



I found out that many people pay hundreds of dollars per month extra for ObamaCare compared to the insurance they used to have. My friends are passionately concerned about Christian values like marriage and sanctity of life, values that Clinton would trounce upon by the Supreme Court judges she would appoint. Many of my friends work much harder than most Europeans, often past their retirement date, to pay off their mortgages and have a reasonable pension, while those who immigrated to the US have faced very difficult and expensive procedures to get their papers; Clinton would take their money in higher taxes and spend it on illegal immigrants who have not complied with the regulations. Can you sense their fear and outrage at what Clinton might do to the country, how she would encroach on their livelihood and families? So no, I am not terribly surprised by Trump’s election.



What I find fascinating about this is the identity dynamics. Each party magnifies the faults of the other, while barely acknowledging their own – a typical feature of identity dynamics. Elections demand that you highlight and exaggerate about all that is good about yourself and your group. One of the easiest ways of doing this is tarnishing the ‘other’, vilifying the outgroup, slinging mud at the other camp. This mostly affirms the loyalty within your own group, for the other camp is outraged, not convinced. Instead, the other camp minimizes all charges, and slings mud in return – again strengthening the loyalty within their own group, a loyalty built on outrage and anger, but hardly convincing the ‘other’.



The apostle Paul once complained that one of his churches was just as divided: “I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Peter” (1 Cor. 1:12). Interestingly, Paul never denied the unique value that Apollos, Peter and he himself contributed to this church, but he wanted to incorporate these smaller group identities in a more encompassing sense of identity: through baptism, the cross of Christ unites them all. Later, he speaks of a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-20) as the core practice that constitutes the identity of his churches.[1]



I am deeply concerned that our political leaders, in the US, in Europe, and across the world, understand their task in identity construction. It appears easy to lead by dividing, highlighting ‘my group’ and demonizing everyone else. But in the end it is destructive, because it is built on outrage and anger.



Will Trump and many other leaders like him rise above their tactics to appeal to fear and to build anger, dividing people as a way of mobilizing them?



Will political as well as religious leaders focus on building identities of reconciliation where subgroup identities are respected and even celebrated, even while they are valued as part of a larger whole?



Reconciliation requires sacrifice; it is costly and is humbling. But it is the only way to construct the identity of a nation that fosters peace, generosity and prosperity.



 



Jack Barentsen, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of Practical Theology; Researcher Institute for Leadership and Social EthicsEvangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven





[1] See also my extensive study: Barentsen, J. (2011). Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus. Eugene: Wipf & Stock.




 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - US Elections: Outrage or Reconciliation - A Matter of Identity Leadership
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow

A team of Steiger mission is starting conversations about the gospel in the middst of the football celebration in Russia.

 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader? What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader?

Clinical Pastoral Counsellor Emoke Tapolyai reflect on three characteristics Christians who have been given leadership roles should develop.

 
Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’ Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’

How can we reach those who call themselves ‘Christians’ but have not experienced a conversion to Christ? Forty missiologists and mission practitioners came together for a Lausanne Movement global consultation in Rome.

 
Trailer: “The Peace Between” Trailer: “The Peace Between”

A film about the experience of refugees in Europe. Churches, small groups and individuals are encouraged to use it during Refugee Week: 17-24 June.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.