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Disunity in Christ - Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart


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Table of Contents

1. Right Christian, Wrong Christian
2. How Divisions Are Killing Us and Why We Should Care
3. Divisions Erected Out of Thin Air: How Categorizing Distorts How We See Each Other
4. Beyond Perceptions: How Categorizing Pollutes Our Interactions with Each Other
5. Running for Cover: How the Groups We Form Protect Our Identity and Self-Esteem
6. Waging Identity Wars: How Bias Boosts Our Self-Esteem
7. Culture Wars: How Cultural Threat Leads to Hostile Conflict
8. Blinded by Culture: How Our Culture Clouds Our Judgment
9. Creating Positive Crosscultural Interactions
10. The Preeminence of (Identity in) Christ: How Things Can and Should Be

About the Author

Christena Cleveland (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is a social psychologist who teaches at St. Catherine University. She is an award-winning researcher and gifted teacher who brings organizational experience to her efforts to build unity. She consults with pastors and organizational leaders on multicultural issues and speaks regularly at organizations, churches, conferences, universities and schools.


"A well-researched and readable book on the issue of disunity that all of us pastors face but are able to do little about once the wheels are set in motion. Helped to remind me of the importance of dealing with potential problems before they blossom into something more sinister."
*Dave McDowell, "The 2014 Leadership Book Awards," Leadership Journal, Winter 2014*

"Cleveland wants us to engage in building bridges and dismantling the existing divisions as soon as we put the book down. In the closing chapters she equips the reader with tools for the work of reconciliation. She provides us with a biblical foundation for cross-cultural unity and explains how to overcome our cognitive and emotional biases. . . . Disunity in Christ is not only a source of education, but is also a source of hope that the work of reconciliation is possible, necessary and not done in vain."
*Ryan Herring, Sojourners, July 2014*

"Cleveland tackles a thorny topic by sharing pieces of her own story. She is appropriately vulnerable and honest about the ways she has sought to grow in her view of other Christians with whom she disagrees. This is a great resource for the pastor or lay leader serious about bridge building in a Christian culture that can sometimes be obsessed with fortifying boundaries and walls."
*Andrew E. Stoddard, Leadership Journal, Winter 2014*

"What I love about Christena?s work is that it is consistently thoughtful, gracious, and PRACTICAL. Few writers are able to instruct without condescending, question without growing cynical, and challenge without hurting. I am so grateful for Christena?s wise perspective."
*Rachel Held Evans, July 23, 2013, www.rachelheldevans.com/blog*

"In Disunity in Christ, Christena Cleveland keenly points out why Christians who have a heart for unity have such a hard time actually uniting, and offers wisdom on how we might begin to listen to and work with others who differ from us."
*Chris Smith, Relevant Magazine, "10 Books to Read This Fall for a Deeper Faith," September 12, 2014*

"Christena Cleveland provides valuable insight into the causes and perpetuation of factors within the body of Jesus Christ that hinder true unity. She examines how obstacles such as race, national origin and personal prejudices can only be overcome when believers are willing to break outside the boundaries of their small cultural/group identities and embrace the larger common identity. Worship leaders will be challenged to encourage worship that merges a diverse congregation into a unified body praising God."
*Jeff Friend, Worship Leader Magazine, May/June 2014*

"Disunity in Christ gives us an opportunity to begin a dialogue in the church that is way overdue. If we can talk about privilege and race and divide, if we can get it on our collective radar, then, like the new word, it'll start appearing all over the place. And at that point we can make different choices, better choices. . . . If she continues to hone in on her singular perspective and keeps speaking with courage and truth, then Christena Cleveland's voice will continue to be very welcome indeed."
*Zena Neds-Fox, Englewood Review of Books, Advent 2013*

"Amidst American culture, in which deep divides over race and sexuality have been driving public conversation in recent years, it is a great work of peacemaking to have a book like this that reflects on why our differences lead to conflict and divisions, and how we can begin to work toward healing."
*C. Christopher Smith, Englewood Review of Books, Ordinary Time 2013*

"With a personal touch and the trained eye of a social psychologist, Cleveland brings to bear the latest studies and research on the unseen dynamics at work that tend to separate us from others. Learn why Christians who have a heart for unity have such a hard time actually uniting. The author provides real insight for ministry leaders who have attempted to build bridges across boundaries."
*Light Magazine, Canada, November 2013*

"In Disunity in Christ 5/5 stars, Cleveland helps readers view people of diverse cultural backgrounds as God's gifts, not thorns in the flesh. She provides valuable insights, practical recommendations, and tools to help the Christian community identify and address the dynamics that fracture Christ's body. . . . My hope, ultimately, is that Disunity in Christ will create new momentum toward fulfilling Jesus' prayer for unity amongst his followers. Those involved in building and supporting multiethnic Christian communities will be moved by Cleveland's stories, perspectives, and gracious spirit. Her book will, I hope, help us resolve generational, economic, political, and theological differences—and teach us to see that, truly, we are better off together."
*Paul Louis Metzger, Christianity Today, November 2013*

"An ideal tool for ministry leaders, this book answers such questions as why choices in language can affect unity, how we can avoid thinking as a group, and why women think men perceive them negatively."
*CBA Retailers + Resources, December 2013*

"Cleveland is a smart, funny, social scientist who speaks to the church's fundamental problems with listening. Pointing out how segregated we have become (ethnically, to be sure, but also theologically and culturally), she remarks on how puzzling it is that people committed to unity have such a hard time actually uniting. A key, for Cleveland, is acknowledging that bias feels good, and actively trying to overcome it. She also tackles our cultural idolatry of individualism and points out that, whether in churches or neighborhoods, homogeneity is never harmless."
*D. L. Mayfield, Christianity Today, September 2015*

"This book is a helpful tool for reflection over what are really our blind spots which become great tragedies leading to numerous divisions amongst Christians. This is not a theological tome on Christian unity—rather a Christian psychologist's analysis and resource to help deal with a common problem."
*Haddington House Journal, 2016*

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