I have often struggled with the implication made in Matthew 5:9, which showed Jesus teaching, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God;” mainly because the same Jesus also said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For this reason, when I read “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt, which seemed to promote a need for understanding of psychology so that those divided by religion and politics could better get along, I cringed. To be honest, the concept of ‘meeting in the middle’ has never worked well for me when Christianity was at stake; I remember another warning by Jesus found in Revelation 3:15-16; “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Do not misunderstand my sentiment here; I do believe we need better understanding with the world in order to reach them with the gospel, but I am not sure that his book is the answer to that. Though political reviews of Haidt’s work seems to be more than positive according to posts on his own website and that of Bruce Gibbs’, it seems that Christians are not uniting behind it with as much support. So why the difference of opinion? I believe there were two primary factors that kept me a non-supporter of the perceived goal of this author; first, all of his principles are based in Psychology and not in Christianity; and second, we were never meant to meet the principles of worldly morality halfway.
“A fascinating new book comes along that, to a liberal like myself, helps demystify the right — and illuminates the kind of messaging that might connect with voters of all stripes.” —Nick Kristof, New York Times.
My own perception of psychological reasoning is that it falls in line with philosophical reasoning; though both seem to have rationale on a worldly level, it must be noted that Christianity is not worldly. All through this work, there are some incredible antidotes that successfully captivate the reader; however many of the comparison fail to take into consideration the bible-based reasoning that Christians go through. For example, early in the reading the author gives an illustration regarding a moral-based question from one of his studies involving a family that ate their dog after it was killed by a car, and a man that has intercourse with a store-bought chicken carcass. Though the point was to derive a social image of both inappropriate behaviors…the chicken scenario could actually be tied to a sin mentioned in the bible regarding sex with animals. The point being, many of his surveys seemed to have biblical implications that the author failed to connect to, but a Christian would not be able to avoid. Later Haidt seemed to suggest that, “so many subjects tried to invent victims,” in order to justify their prejudices regarding what was right or wrong in a situation. However, Christians do not need a “victim” to believe that it is in conflict with God’s Word. Even in the introduction, he works to redefine the word “righteous” as though it is a new concept that religious types have only tried to tie to the bible. In the effort to try and bring the religious to the world-perspective, I fear the author as failed to do the same for religion.
Second, Christianity was never intended to meet the world halfway. I have included a 7 minute youtube video with this post, because in it the viewer sees that the motives of the author are to bring both sides to a point somewhere in the middle…for a more peaceful union. With the political imagery pitting the “liberals” against the “conservatives” at every turn, I find the analogy lost on the religious argument. Christianity was never formed so that the world view could work with the Christian view and then everyone would just get along; in fact, Scripture teaches the exact opposite:
Romans 8:5-9 (NKJV)
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
James 4:4 (NKJV)
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
My fear for the modern church is that there are too many people trying to accommodate worldly thinking, and then expecting the church to justify or excuse it. This is not what the church is supposed to be. I am so perplexed by non-Christian focused people who perceive they have a right to explain to religious types how they should share their message with the world; they misquote and misuse Scripture all in an effort to soften the implications that it has on the world.
Ironically, I found the book fascinating to read, and yet offensive on a number of levels. It was very interesting to see the psychological conclusions on the mind and methods of humankind, as well as see the studies on decision-making and opinion. However, I could not find that many of his conclusions actually gave regard to religion or Christianity…only politics. It cannot be argued that we should not understand the way humans communicate and rationalize, but we must not compromise our message of Jesus Christ in the process.
Gibb, B. L. (2012, June). JonathanHaidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from IntegralLeadershipreview.com: http://integralleadershipreview.com/7180-johnathan-haidt-the-righteous-mind-why-good-people-are-divided-by-politics-and-religion/
Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon Books.
Reviews. (2018). Retrieved April 7, 2018, from Righteousmind.com: http://righteousmind.com/about-the-book/reviews/
 Matthew 10:34.
 Reviews. (2018). Retrieved April 7, 2018, from Righteousmind.com: http://righteousmind.com/about-the-book/reviews/
 Gibb, B. L. (2012, June). JonathanHaidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from IntegralLeadershipreview.com: http://integralleadershipreview.com/7180-johnathan-haidt-the-righteous-mind-why-good-people-are-divided-by-politics-and-religion/
 Reviews. (2018).
 Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon Books. P 3.
 Ibid, p 27.