On Pursuing Diversity in the Church

One of the most frequently-discussed questions in the past few years has been whether or not churches should intentionally pursue diversity. In short, my answer is yes. My reason is that in the Bible unity is just that important; Christians should separate from other believers only for geographical reasons or when the essentials of the gospel are compromised.

Is this practically possible? It doesn’t appear so today; such issues as baptism make it seem as if pursuing unity is not only impractical, but unwise. When, say, a Presbyterian and a Baptist both believe strongly in their different modes of baptism, can the two share the same church? Perhaps not; but then again, perhaps they ought to try. There is, after all, “one baptism.” This much is certain: such theological disagreements highlight nothing good about the present state of the church.

Some would argue that just as different theological stances make practical unity impossible, so do cultural or even racial issues. But this should not be. The New Testament takes a clear and unambiguous stand against cultural and racial segregation: “there is neither Jew nor Greek.” Unity with diversity is one of the great victories of the cross. All Christians must seek to live and worship in harmony with one another whenever possible.

We don’t want to make diversity the mission, as some have; the mission is the love and truth of Christ to all corners of the world, prioritizing the needy and those who have never heard. But to see churches content not to pursue diversity is a genuine shame. Particularly here in the United States, where blacks and whites have been divided for so long, the issue needs to be taken up with renewed energy and sincerely pursued. To not do so, as many have pointed out, is to fail to take seriously the Bible’s commands to unity, and is nothing more than another manifestation of self, of which the modern church, sadly, has far too much.

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