Well sure Richard:
…the evidence of this tendency/need/compulsion to divide into “us vs. them” is everywhere. But ethnicity is only the most obvious of the categories by which the division/separation occurs. Tribes, skin color, family, as categories for proper division (given the underlying assumption that division MUST be in play) has given way to divisions by categories of what we believe! So, substitute right beliefs (you know; my churches beliefs are superior to yours), or right actions (like trying hard enough not to be a sinner), for ethnicity and we have an updated “Christian version” of the mental workings necessary to make me part of the “saved” (you know, the good guys!) and the “lost” (that’d be the “bad guys” over there.)
Now it’s quite fascinating that, in the “art” of war, one of the first tasks in getting your soldiers to be willing to kill their soldiers is that of demeaning, dehumanizing, and ultimately demonizing the “other”. In the ordinary course of things, that soldier more than likely wants only what “my” soldier wants; peace, family, companionship, love, and enough to eat. – except he’s trying to take my food (or land) and he started it, and he’s dirty and different, and, well, pretty soon one becomes convinced it’s almighty God’s will that I make the other soldier die!! Quite scary actually.
I’ve always been puzzled by the so called “Liberal” Christians reflexive embrace of Evolution; these sorts of divisions are easily seen to be born of a need to further my genes (and gene pool) at the expense of your’s – with whom I compete for scarce resources. Couldn’t THAT be the innate source of this “ethnocentrism”? (perhaps a slight deviation from your topic; but interesting to me nonetheless!)
(The central importance of a good creation doctrine then, as I see it, is a very proper and rational placement of my worth as part of God’s family… Your worth too…)
There remains ingrained in us somehow, this assumption that there simply MUST be winners and losers. We’ve talked about it briefly here before (can’t find precise spot) but it’s like imagining having a SuperBowl where BOTH teams win the game! Unthinkable! Why even play the game in the first place? Imagine: a football game played with the ethics of Christ’s teachings! Here; I realize you are trying to get into the end zone; let me help you. Yes, I have a “team” of my own, but I shall help you get into MY end zone for a touchdown. And imagine that is reciprocated. — seems we simply lack the imagination necessary to visualize everyone being a “winner”. (and no, I’m not talking about the kiddy stuff where each kid gets a trophy just for being there… but, in a way, I AM talking about that!)
Imagine an ethic – the ethic of Christ – where everything is up-side-down… where YOUR joy becomes MY greatest happiness; and mine becomes yours! It’s almost inconceivable isn’t it!! I’m so confidant that my needs will be met, that I can spend ALL my time concentrating on making sure YOUR’S are met! Imagine the possibilities! Contrast with the ethic of me being worried first about myself. Soon enough, you come to be seen as a threat to me; so instead of helping YOU, I must resist you. Downhill from there. And ECT hell is a natural end point of that sort of self centeredness. I don’t only want to beat you, to capture the prize that you can’t have, but I want to torture and humiliate you; badly and for a very long time.
So yes. I think ECT is a pathetic window into the depraved sin sick mind which so desperately needs to assert it’s own importance and superiority at the expense of another. Part of an elaborate justification to explain the unexplainable.