Chameleon or Tribe

Richard Keyes is now the leader of the L'Abri community near Boston, USA and has written this oddly-titled book to explore two tendencies amongst Christ-ians today. These are the Chameleon tendency, or acquiescence with worldly standards and the Tribal tendency, or withdrawal from the world at large for fear of spiritual contamination.

The Chameleons are described as Christians who, for fear of conflict or alienation, dilute the gospel message in order to make it (and themselves) more acceptable to those around them. The Tribal Christians are described as those who are so intransigent about their theological beliefs that anyone who questions them or holds a differing view is not tolerated. Such Christians are likened to Musk Oxen which, when under attack from other animals, form a circle, preventing any assailant from penetrating their ranks.

Richard Keyes draws attention to Jesus' teaching on us being Salt and Light in Matthew 5:13-16, concluding that both groups of Christians fail in this respect. The Chameleons fail because their dilution of the gospel renders their Christian lifestyle to be no different from non-believers. The Tribal Christians fail because they effectively withdraw from the world, thus unable to make any real impact upon, or contribution to, society at large.

The author sees the solution to these problems in the rediscovery of apologetic. After a whirlwind tour through pluralism, relativism, post-modernism and other minefields into which theologians have trodden in recent times, we are drawn to one of the most divisive of all Christian teaching - the Uniqueness of Christ. This is not a book to study last thing at night but it does give some valuable insights into attitudes and tendencies within the evangelical church today

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