Monday, June 26, 2006


Here i am in Spain and this afternoon have been surrounded by thousands of England football fans wearing their England colours celebrating their nations victory.

It started me thinking about Tribalism

Whose side is God on?

I have just read a really old book that I bought in a charity shop, it was published in 1929 written by Mackintosh Mackay called "The Goodly fellowship of the Prophets" thats not a typing error I do mean Goodly!

It's about the minor prophets and he makes some lovely comments in his chapter on Amos he says "God's sovereignty of the nations is universal and it is impartial. He is not a tribal deity, favouring one and punishing another. He is the judge of all the earth, and as such will do right and only right" he continues.." There is to much of this tribal theory of God prevelant still. We saw it in the Great war when every nation tried to assure itself that God was on its side. As one said it would have been more to the point if they had asked themselves whether they were on the side of God." and then he says " we see it too in the belief that because God has blessed a country with material advantages for many years, He has a peculiar affection for that country and will never cast it off. Does history in anyway support such a tribal theory of God? Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Jerusalem, Greece, Rome - where are they? They have all passed away."

Strangly this made me think of America and the world system it propogates.......


lisa said...

strangely, i think of america in this way all the time!

Kirk Bartha said...

Brian, Kirk here - not Karl :)

If we're going to sweep whole empires up what about the whole of the commonwealth... which America is only a big fat part. They learned their tribal trade somewhere from someone bleeding jack's red white and blue.

Anyways, reason I was leaving a comment in the first place was I'd love to get the bibliography of that book you quoted... and is it ok to use that quote on my blog.

Brian Heasley said...

Sorry Kirk, didn't put the british empire in because it wasn't actually in the quote from the book and then I decided to jump to present day. Therefore bypassing that period in history. America is not part of the commonwealth, Canada is. I don't think they learned their trade from us, maybe got some good ideas, but I think it is deeper than that. The other thought I have on empire and tribalism is that it isn't all bad! each one of the empires quoted has brought good.

Anyway, His Kingdom come.

No worries with using the quote on your blog

Kirk Bartha said...

thanks... bud. Too bad Canada doesn't know how to play football :)

Karen said...

Brian, wow. What an incredible quote and your thoughts on it as well. That was brilliant. You got me thinking...

BigChris said...

I'm surprised Toggers hasn't had something to say on this so far...

Dunno if you remember me, we met briefly at the ILG last year in Dresden... anyway, I'm coming out to Ibiza with Team 6 this year... looking at your recent posts, i can't wait!

re this post, i totally agree, I feel very uncomfortable with any form of God-is-on-our-side propaganda - it leads down very dangerous roads in terms of believing we know what God thinks and, as the quote says, where is the Holy Roman Empire now?

Big Chris

Kirk Bartha said...

Oh.. and that thing I said about America and the commonwealth, I should have said "historical commonwealth" - this quote got me reading a bit and I will be posting (momentarily, as quick as I can type them) quotes ad nausea on my blog.

In a few days I have to preach five time zones away and I havn't put any study into it because I have been spurred by Mackintosh.

Such a goodly man MacKay.

toggers said...

hi Brian, my cockroach-crushing friend!

...a couple of thoughts;

I remember studying the life of Joshua years ago, and finding that odd little bit at the end of Joshua 5 - the bit where a man with a sword appears in front of Joshua. Joshua goes up to him and asks, understandably, "are you for us or for our enemies?" (I imagine he was ready to give the guy a beating if he'd said he was *for* Joshua's enemies?) And the guy replies, "neither... but as commander of the Lord's armies, I have now come." At which, understandably again, Joshua falls on his face.

"Neither?" What an interesting word!

I've read around some fascinating books in recent years... a lot to do with the broader scriptural narrative, and the purpose of God. Some have suggested that God is not 'tribal' at all, but *we* are... and we are continually projecting/expecting God to be on our side (you mention this). "Are you for us, God, or against us?" "Nope, neither... but I'm here."

The Bible, they suggest, is the grand story of the God-who-is-Love trying to get through to a narrow-minded, heard-hearted, tribally-obsessed humanity... a story which is still continuing.

I'll shut up... I need to do some work! Love you buddy.