Another quote from Reinhold Niebuhr, this time from his book Man's Nature and His Communities: Ideally the church is a community of "saved" individuals, who know themselves to be "forgiven sinners"
This ideal should make for humility; but the long history of religious self righteousness reveals that religious experience is more effective in inducing repentance for deviation from common standards than in in inducing repentance for the hatred, bigotry, and prejudice involved in the common standards of race and nation, or church.
The adherent of religion must come to terms with the historic facts, that in all collective behavior religious piety is likely to sanctify historical and contingent viewpoints. Religious piety is more apt to be found claiming the divine for an ally of it's own partial viewpoints. "It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us"
Rather than showing a humble awareness of the relative aspects of all historical loyalties or as bringing forth the fruits of repentance for shortcomings as judged by the transcendent God. Perhaps human self hood in it's collective form constitutionally is unable to imagine any higher value than the common value of it's devotion.
Hence, the redemptive value of dissident individuals, the prophet, the critic, even the rebel, in a free community.