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Majoring on the Minors | Perpetuating religious schisms of the past

Tickle (2008) argues religion is a social construct as well as an individual way of being and understanding (p 33). Language, customs, values, traditions, religion and laws are all part of what James Sires called cultural relativism. Cultural relativism relies on the ideal that culture will preserve itself when threatened (Sire, 1999, p 87). Perhaps this unto itself explains why we can observe thousands of years of societal and religious turmoil? Understanding people within a given culture requires familiarity with local conditions and the context from which people develop and express viewpoints and make decisions (Black et al., 1999, p 121-124).

Tickle (2008) states “any established or organized religion is the soul of the culture or society that, in turn, is the body in which and through which religion acts” (p 33). Black et al., (1999) use the imagery of a Kaleidoscope in dealing with paradigms and knowledge (p 61).  Black et al., (1999) note individuals encounter new paradigms, like the changing images in a kaleidoscope; they view these paradigms as actual maps, conveying entire histories of cultural bias (p 61).

If we are to consider Tickle’s (2008) assertion that schisms occurred because of such things as leavened bread, language of text or the methodology by which we connect with God; it is difficult to interpret these things on the surface as necessarily cultural in nature. If we are a product of our culture and our culture is a product of history, then why is it that churches do not invest time in unpacking the history of religion? Perhaps our reasoning is tied up in Sires argument of cultural relativism. In essence, I don’t think we really like to consider the messiness of our past as a platform for why we believe and do the things we do today. By ignoring our history, are we not perpetuating the schisms of the past and thereby putting man’s rules before God’s commands?


Tickle, Phyllis (2008). The Great Emergence. How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Sire, James W. (1997). The Universe Next Door. Third Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

Black, J.S., Morrison, A.J. and Gregersen, H.B. (1999). Global Explorers. The Next Generation of Leaders. New York, NY: Routledge.


Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/President of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

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