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“Disunity in Christ”: An Interview with Christena Cleveland

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“You begin the book with a delightful discussion of what you call “right Christian, wrong Christian.” What do you mean by that phrase and how does it affect unity in the local church?

I actually went back and forth on whether to include that discussion in the book! In that section, I show my cards, if you will. So, I was concerned that non-discerning readers who identified with my description of “Wrong Christian” would throw my book across the room and never pick it up again!

“Right Christian, Wrong Christian” is all about naming our biases and recognizing that many of us have so succumbed to the tribalism in the church that we’ve started labeling people who are like us as “right” and people who are different than us as “wrong.” The problem is that many of us have little ongoing, meaningful interaction with the people we’ve labeled “wrong Christian.” As a result, our perception of “wrong Christian” more closely resembles a caricature than an accurate and honoring portrait.

Meanwhile, our negative attitudes toward “wrong Christian” blind us to the fact that perhaps we’re not the “right Christians” that we think we are. I see this pattern of instinctively, unequivocally and judgmentally labeling other followers of Christ as wrong or right on a broad level (e.g., in the blogosphere – where cross-tribal engagement only happens when one person/group is protesting another person/group) and on a local level (e.g., in the local church – where individuals within local church bodies stick to people who are like them / agree with them and avoid meaningful interactions with those who are different / challenge their worldview).”  Read more below.



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