A little while ago, one of my brother’s wrote a post that mentioned how the founder and former CEO of Blackwater (now Xe) had contributed significant sums of money to a number of Conservative Christian groups like ‘Focus on the Family’. In response, I asked if ‘Focus on the Family’ should be considered a Christian organization.
On the one hand, I was having a bit of a laugh, as ‘Focus on the Family’ is probably one of the most influential and widely known ‘Christian’ groups in North America. On the other hand, I was being completely serious, and this had gotten me to thinking about the following questions:
What determines whether or not a person or group is ‘Christian’? Is it the affirmation of certain propositions (as many today tend to think)? The embodiment of certain practices (as Jesus appeared to argue)? Both? Neither?
More generally, what role do boundaries between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ play in the formation of group identities? Who determines those boundaries and patrols them? What positive function do these boundaries serve?
Finally, if a person self-identifies as belonging to a certain group, is it appropriate to contest that?
I would be curious to hear how others might respond to these questions.