The Path
Longing for Diversity

Longing for Diversity

I never thought these words would come out of my mouth.

Back when diversity was being emphasized, it was apparent that people wanted diversity except for Christianity. Everyone’s opinion was equally valid, and as Christians we know that is not the case. There is one truth, one reality, and that is Jesus.

Nevertheless, people were at least willing to have meaningful conversations about their own ideas, and that was helpful. If we were willing to listen to them, we could learn what they believed, and that would give us a starting point to share our beliefs — if, in fact, they would listen.

But those days are apparently gone. We know that politically, they are for the most part gone. If you disagree with someone, the conversation is cut off and sometimes the relationship is terminated. I remember talking to a young person a while back. When I expressed an opinion that was different from hers, she responded that what I said was offensive and the conversation was over. What I said was not offensive; it was her way of moving the conversation into an emotional arena so there could be no meaningful dialogue. I and my opinion were canceled.

But this cancel culture has apparently made its way into the church. We saw it with masks during COVID. Instead of agreeing to disagree for health or political reasons, churches split and pastors left, over 1,300 a month. I remember talking with a person about weekly Bible studies and asking why the two groups couldn’t simply sit at their own tables separated from each other. But no, one had to be right and the other had to be wrong.

I am reminded of an email we received at BiblicalTraining where the writer disagreed with one statement by one of our speakers over a theological issue. As a result, he said he would no longer use our materials and he would encourage others to do the same. The theological issue was not a central doctrine of Scripture but an adiaphora, something of secondary importance. Really? Do you believe everything you read?

My point is this. How about a little grace? We can hold our convictions and opinions tightly while inviting discussion at the same time. What kind of arrogance believes that everything a person believes is absolutely right and there is no possibility of error? And even if someone is wrong (in your opinion), why would you not want to have a meaningful conversation?

I had a great talk with a Mormon on my recent flight from Minneapolis to Columbus. It actually wasn’t much of a dialogue; he wouldn’t stop talking. But it was a helpful summary of Mormon doctrine and history, and I learned a lot about how to talk constructively with a Mormon the next time I meet one who actually wants to dialogue. But even though I believe he was wrong on every single point, it would have been a mistake to put my headphones on and listen to Christian music, effectively canceling him.

In theological terms, aren’t we supposed to love our enemies and live with conviction and humility?

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