Sometimes when I encounter Christians who are quick to cut off contacts or dissolve their friendships with other Christians on the basis of differences in non-essential doctrinal positions, I’m reminded of a historical event: how the Chinese empire, great as it was, isolated itself from the rest of the world for centuries.
Due to a fire incident which ravaged the palace of their emperor in the Forbidden City in the 15th century, the Chinese who viewed the throne as divine, interpreted this as an omen from heaven that they were no longer to send expeditions out into the world.
They also had another Emperor, Hongxi, who was opposed to foreign alliances. Due to this and some other factors, China was sequestered from the civilization of the Renaissance period to the19th century industrial revolution. By the time they began to build meaningful cultural bridges with other nations, they realized they had been left behind for long.
Me thinks arrogance played a big part, and it may have had something to do – physically or symbolically -with the Great Wall of China.
The Great Wall, which stretches over 13,000 miles, was built to keep out the barbarians from other regions (the Huns) who frequently invaded and plundered China. But as Wikipedia notes, “the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road …the control of immigration and emigration.”
During the Ming Dynasty when foreign expeditions were banned, the Great Wall became well fortified. It kept them “safe” but it soon became an object of arrogance and social obstacle. They began to see their fiefdom as the “Celestial city” and outsiders as inferior creatures.
The physical walls kept out strangers, but another kind of wall was elected in the minds of the people: “If they didn’t look like us, talk like us or belong to our class, then we don’t want to see them!”
I believe the same thing can happen to Christians. We can also wall ourselves in so much that we exclude others because they are not in our class; they don’t look like us and do not agree with us on every stance. This is a defeatist mentality and it’s a mark of mind control.
In the book of Judges, we read about a certain nation like this.
“Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there.” (Judges 18:27-28)
Why was this otherwise peaceful and secure city so easily conquered? That’s right, because they were all by themselves. They had no relationship with others. It was a “close circuit” city. But its isolation couldn’t save it in the face of battle.
In my study of cults, I have found out that this “lone wolf” tactic works well on recruits. It’s not easy to brainwash a person who has not been socially isolated and has access to contrary information to compare.
But when a person gets to the point where all those around him or her and his authority figures repeat the same errors from the same dubious source, his tunnel vision will be well configured.
Christians who shut other believers out because of differences in minor issues such as church administration, music, ordination of women, bible translations, Christmas/Easter celebration, tithing etc. need to guard against mind control. It’s a tool of the devil to isolate you, deceive you and leave you without help in the time of your need.
Nobody knows it all. There will be moments in our lives when we will need people to help us and they won’t be folks who believe exactly what we believe. It haa happened to me.
As long as we are still here on this earth, we cannot agree with one another on every issue. And when it comes to disputable matters not easily settled in Scripture, Christians should learn to respect other Christians’ differences in viewpoints.