Ethnocentrism is the act of seeing one’s ethnic tribe better compared to those of the others. This stereotype has with time crept into the religious foundation irrepressibly. Currently, the church is experiencing a wave of ethnocentrism which if not curbed will see a religious waiver. Overall researches locally and internationally prove that ethnocentrism is an ant to the timber-pillar supporting the church; with time it will eat into it and cause a major downfall.
Manifestation and Effects of Ethnocentrism
Of foremost challenge is that ethnocentrism brings about division within the ellipsis of church organizations. The latter is propelled by the fact that ethnic groups feel superior to the others thus the social interaction is completely cut off leading to eventual enmity. Therefore this aspect affects both the physical and spiritual growth and development of the church hence leading to religious dormancy. Christians befallen by this destructive temptation end their fellowships paralyzing the advancement of the gospel towards each other and even to the world outside. Division of individual ethnic groups causes disunity within the body of Christ giving the devil a leeway to cause havoc. As time goes on the lack of unity as previously quoted earths up enmity amongst the church elders a viral vice which downs to the church members. It’s eminent that it is not once that we’ve seen scenes of churches split up. The ugliest side of the story is when literal fights follow the split up. The challenges caused by ethnocentrism in the church are bound to affect the church and the country subsequently. In Kenya, it is evident that the post-election violence that took place in 2007 and 2008 was a result of the church’s failure to clear ethnocentrism. The post-election violence saw the most dreadful crime against humanity ever in the Kenyan history. Tribes rose against each other, fought, evicted and killed each other as ethnocentrism had pushed their conscience away from them. It would not be of any surprise to find that some ethnic based churches preach against other tribes; but it would show the stretch of ethnocentrism in churches. Should the church have earlier harmonized unity amongst ethnic tribes then we wouldn’t have seen such scenes in our country; Kenya. Ethnocentrism has also caused a challenge of leadership in top religious posts within various church denominations. The top posts are only accredited to members of the same ethnic groups hence embracing the social and moral vice; nepotism. This demeaning act consents corruption to breed right from the location that should be first in fighting it. Many are the times we have seen the media covering stories of members who literally fought of the premises of the church due to leadership wrangles as some church members are opposed to one of the leaders. Due to ethnocentrism’s rooting buried deep within the bedrock of the church, then its combat will turn out a wild goose chase. Ethnocentrism chars the people’s perspective and prerogatives they had towards the church as loving and united. Once the people outside the religious bracket get the opposite of what the church is, they tend to have a negative attitude towards gospel. More to it is that, other people might think the church to be a cult because they don’t expect the church to condone some atheistic mannerisms. In this case, ethnocentrism plays a key inhibitor to the good image ought to be portrayed by churches affected by ethnicity. The bad image then bars the progression of the word of God, because no one would want to be an associate of such rogue gospel. As much as we would like to convert other religions to embrace Christianity the antithetical issue of bad reputation will keep on hindering our success. In regard to the latter remark, taking the Islam religion as evidence, the Christian fraternity has over time and again failed to escape the discomfiture of sneering criticism posed by Muslim clerics. The criticism comes up when the Christians try to exemplify their religion as the best when it already has loopholes and leaking evidences to support it. Indirectly, this vice makes the Christians fail to be the light of the world as God requires of us, consequently making us sinners. Due to division of church members and split ups over the recent past caused by ethnocentrism, there has been an impulsive opening of many churches. The split ups have brought about many mysterious religious denominations that have distorted and biased the gospel truth. The distortion of the gospel is what has instigated mushrooming of many cult churches that teach contrary to the word of God. Ethnocentrism has therefore instigated the existence of false teachings most of which are bound to transform their members into ardent devil flocks. As it is the responsibility of the church to oversee events even those that are outside the clerical premises running successfully, it’s of late failing. Henceforth, ethnocentrism of such nature keeps lagging the nation from completing the political metamorphosis it started since independence. The Pauline epistles dwell much on the issue of ethnocentrism in the church, since the vice was present in the early church. In 1st Corinthians chapter 1 - 4, Paul talks about church divisions and says that they are a mark of spiritual immaturity. Thus Christians should not be at daggers drawn with each other but be in harmony and in unity as one body of Christ. Paul goes on to condemn the Christians act of characterizing themselves by human associations and gatherings which he says in the Christian life, they shouldn’t apply. Such divisions, Paul writes that, they show that we still keep our pre-Christian values; we are partially saved or not saved at all. According to Paul’s point of view Christians should in their life emulate Christ’s way of life.
The challenges posed by ethnocentrism are a thorn to the church and thus have caused the gospel to limp lieu of its smooth progress. As much as we would like to prove to other religions that we are Christians then we should behave like Christ himself and Christ is full of love, hence, no room for ethnicity. Christians should take ethnocentrism as one of our many tribulations and temptations en route our triumph and overcome it lest we fail to see our journey through. As Jesus was not bound by any ethnic ties Christians should also follow his footsteps as he is their spiritual role model and pacesetter. Once that is done then we will have a church that is both united and bound to heaven.