“Do I have to include diverse voices in my theology courses? Is someone going to monitor that I have diversity in my syllabus? I only want to teach about Christ and the Bible.” These were the words of a theology professor responding to his Christian university’s invitation to include more diversity in the curricula. The request referred to the importance of necessary diversity of thought essential to a university and to a School of Theology, but this professor focused on ethnic diversity as the reason for his concern. Not only did this professor ignore that we all come from a cultural background that influences how we think and study Scripture, but he assumed that diversity was a threat and cause for concern.
Although this professor’s comments unintentionally offended his few ethnic “minority” and women colleagues by assuming that their voices could be considered a cause for fear, the reality is that we are all afraid of what is different. Each of us is comfortable with people who look like us and share similar preferences. We are accustomed to what looks familiar and suspicious of what seems different to us.
However, it is in differences that we find the true wholeness of life. All human beings are created in the image and likeness of the triune God. The Trinity is the essential foundation of unity in diversity. We worship one God in three different persons. Each human being is unique and different, but all are needed, both men and women, to better represent together the image of God in humanity. The ideal expression of God’s image is in community, in our communion, and in mutual love.
In the same way, the Church or body of Christ represents the union of different persons but is perfectly united in Christ. The book of Ephesians teaches us that we are all, Gentiles and Jews alike, members of the family of God (2:19). The worship of our God as the whole body of Christ is masterfully described in Revelation 7:9:
After this I looked, and there appeared a multitude taken from every nation, tribe, people and language; it was so great that no one could number it. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
Sons and daughters of God from every tongue, nation, and culture are united in Christ. We are all adopted as his children (1 John 3:1) and are members of the same family of faith. Christians do not seek diversity because it is a social fad or a governmental or institutional requirement, but we recognize and affirm that the Church is already diverse. That is, diversity is not something we seek or affirm, but something we receive as a gift of divine grace.
Furthermore, all believers receive the anointing and seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). If every believer has the Holy Spirit, then it is in the community and in the diversity of believers that we all experience the guidance of the Spirit. We need everyone to learn more of the Holy Spirit who indwells each of us. There is no one person or group with the exclusivity of the Holy Spirit. The humility and interdependence of the universal church under the same Spirit is essential for all Christians.
Consequently, ethnic diversity among Christians is a gift and not a threat. Christ’s Church is already diverse and we need to affirm and celebrate this wonderful reality. If people were to check your phone book, would they find contacts from different ethnic groups and people from different cultures? Closeness to others produces the empathy so essential to our interpersonal relationships. Distance from others always produces suspicion and fear. Thanks be to God who united us all in Christ and gave each of us the same Spirit!
Nota: Puede encontrar la versión en español aquí: