Unity in Diversity

A Biblical-Theological Commitment to Unity in Diversity

The King’s College is a diverse community united under its Christian mission.[1] According to Scripture, our unity in diversity is the evidence of the Good News in our community. We believe that diversity, rightly pursued, employs all members in seeking the common good of the community.

A King’s education prepares graduates for careers in strategic institutions. Institutions that shape society today are increasingly diverse and globally connected. Successful King’s graduates must be able to negotiate that diverse marketplace.

Many forms of diversity—including race, socio-economic background, national origin, sex, age, ability/disability, and marital status—factor significantly into how one experiences, and benefits from, higher education. However, America’s particularly problematic history with slavery and discrimination based upon national origins poses unique challenges for higher education institutions.

Building upon the multi-ethnic authorship of the four-gospel tradition,[2] Christian education must have a special commitment to cultivating the diverse cultures and perspectives within it, while also critically engaging them.[3] The formation of all nations in Genesis is grounded in one central fact: all humans bear the image of God (Gen 1:28), who Himself is plurality in unity. Beginning in creation to the founding of the Church, diversity amongst image bearers is part and parcel of God’s project for forming His people—from the Egyptians who joined Israel in the exodus to the Gentiles grafted into the New Covenant.[4] In fact, diversity was a distinct genetic marker of the earliest Christian communities. Though the mixing of races and classes made this new Jewish sect odious to the Roman Empire, Paul saw diversity as a resource for growing in the wisdom of God.[5] 

Throughout Scripture, we see God working to bring together people from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds. This is central to God’s mission, not an optional addendum. The final eschatological vision of “every tribe, nation, and tongue” united before God’s throne illustrates the type of kingdom that God is building here and now (Isa 49:6; Phil 2; Rev 5:9; 7:9, 14:6).

Biblical authors continually draw our attention to outsiders (e.g., aliens) and the most easily exploited (women, orphans, elderly, etc.).[6] These are not merely passive bystanders in the drama of redemption—God’s intent is for them to play a decisive role in helping Israel, and later the apostles and the Church, to understand the true nature of God’s kingdom.

Beginning in the Torah, God repeatedly warns the majority community concerning their particular responsibility to embrace the alien, treating them as if they were native citizens. Though outsiders must follow covenant expectations, the overwhelming focus in the Torah is on Israel’s treatment of the foreigner and vulnerable. God requires the majority to take special care to ensure that no harm or exploitation befalls minorities.[7] In doing so, God enjoins Israel to cultivate diversity within a united community, but with the onus on the majority to care for those who are naturally vulnerable. This care reaches its zenith in Leviticus’s “twin love statements,” later cited by no less than Jesus, Paul, and James as central to the Good News:[8]

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD [Yahweh].

You shall love [the alien] as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD [Yahweh] your God.

Abdicating her call to bless the nations, Israel exploited the very people who were central to her wholeness. Israel’s failure to embrace and protect the outsider—exploiting and oppressing them instead—resulted in God’s eventual judgment and slaughter of Israel.[9] In the same vein, Jesus teaches that care for vulnerable people is a litmus test for surviving His coming judgment of the “second death.”[10]

In the end, a diverse group of The Redeemed, united under Christ’s cosmic reign, will be the climax  of humanity  in the New Heavens and New Earth.[11] As a body of believers, The King’s College strives to realize that anticipated reality now.

Because we take the biblical commitments to unity in diversity seriously, compelled by God’s love that drew us together, The King’s College community aspires to the following:[12]

  1. Repentance: We recognize the need to grieve and repent of the ways our words and actions—both intentional and those borne of ignorance—have served to denigrate, dehumanize, and marginalize members of our own community. In our apartments, classrooms, and campus, we have tolerated uncharitable behavior at the expense of our brothers and sisters made in the image of God.
  2. Deference: We strive to build a welcoming, Christ-centered community marked by inclusion, deference for one another, and respect for difference rooted in God’s creation and in culture. This is not to suggest that we celebrate all aspects of any culture, including the various cultures in America. According to Scripture, all cultures are sinful and dysfunctional in various ways. Yet it is appropriate to celebrate the admirable aspects of our cultures that make us unique.
  3. Struggle: We choose to embrace the tensions that come with being a community composed of people from varying cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Christian or not, this poses great potential for miscommunication, misunderstanding, and cultural clash. We welcome this as part of the journey to which God calls us.
  4. Correction: We commit to addressing behaviors that denigrate others based on race, ethnicity, socio-economics, or culture. Within the scope of our mission and Christian commitments, we will identify and correct institutional structures that wrongfully play a role in marginalizing members of our community. We aspire to be a community that invites critique of one another’s uncharitable language, stereotypes, and behaviors so that we can respond charitably in kind.
  5. Civility: We will foster a campus conversation around issues related to race, class, discrimination, and bias, with the goal of nurturing mutual understanding, respect, and reconciliation.
    1. This includes identifying overly simplistic views of diversity and working toward a better understanding of complex racial and socio-economic dynamics.
    2. We place a premium on patiently listening to one another to understand our respective journeys and the ways members of our community have been affected by racism, classism, etc.
    3. Though, even among Christians, we will have vastly divergent perspectives around these issues, we commit to practicing civility, respect, and charity toward one another as our community grapples with hotly contested issues.

[1] “Through its commitment to the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview, The King’s College seeks to transform society by preparing students for careers in which they help to shape and eventually to lead strategic public and private institutions, and by supporting faculty members as they directly engage culture through writing and speaking publicly on critical issues.”[2] Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts, and John were written by authors who spoke various native tongues, were raised in different cultures, came from different religious backgrounds, and hailed from different ethnicities.

[3] A liberal education requires listening and learning to others from divergent perspectives. In economics, for instance, we study the economic thought of Marx, Keynes, and Hayek and the ways they rightly or wrongly understood the human condition and the keys to human flourishing. Through encountering these different perspectives we achieve deeper understanding. Diversity among peers, professors, and academic sources is hard-baked into a liberating education, serving to foster wisdom and discernment.

[4] Non-Israelites appear throughout the canon to teach Israel and the church about the fear of God and justice. The story of Exodus prominently features the Egyptian midwives (Exod 1:15–22), Pharaoh’s daughter (2:5–10), Zipporah (4:24–26), the Egyptians who feared Moses’ voice (9:20-21), and Jethro (18:1–27). So too in the Gospels and Acts: the Syro-Phonecian woman (Mark 7:24–30), centurion of Capernaum (Luke 7:1–10), Samaritan woman (John 4:1–45), Cornelius (Acts 10–11, 15), and more.  These are not merely interesting characters in the story, but serve to shape the people of God.

[5] It was the early church’s diversity that most disturbed Roman politicians. The Roman prefect Pliny the Younger cites its diversity when describing the “disease” of Christianity to the emperor Trajan: “For there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, who are now and hereafter likely to be called to account, and to be in danger; for this superstition [Christianity] is spread like a contagion, not only into cities and towns, but into country villages also.” (“Letters of Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan,” translated by William Whiston). Paul’s comments on the mixture of Jews and Gentiles as opportunities to attain wisdom ring across his corpus.

[6] Cf. Melchizedek, Jethro, Balaam, Rahab, Jael, Ruth, Isaiah’s “foreigners and eunuchs” (Isa 56:3–8), drawing together the nations in the New Heavens and New Earth (Isa 66:18ff), Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, the Syro-Phonecian woman, the centurion, the Nubian eunuch, Cornelius’s household, Lydia’s household—all of which became paradigm-shifting grounds for the disciples to understand the mission to the Gentiles.

[7] Cf. Exod 12:49; 23: 22; 25:35; Lev 19:34, 24:22; Josh 8:33.

[8] Cf. Lev 19:18, 34; Matt 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8.

[9] Exodus 22:21–24: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.  If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry,  and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”

[10] Matthew 25:31–46.

[11] Cf. Isa 66; Php 2.

[12] Though most King’s students and employees hail from a majority white cultural experiences within the United States, this document does not presume this will always be the case. As is true of Scripture, the emphasis here is on the responsibilities of the majority.

Demographic realities: The King’s College approximates national racial and ethnic demographics. Nationally, the U.S. is roughly  60% White (non-Hispanic), 18% Hispanic, 13% Black, 6% Asian, 2% Other (U.S. Census estimates as of July 1, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045218). The Fall 2019 incoming class (first-time, full-time students) was 27% minority. The King’s College staff is currently more ethnically diverse than the student body, and the faculty less so. On average in 2018, universities in the United States had student bodies resembling the national averages: 55% White (non-Hispanic), 19% Hispanic, 13% Black, 7% Asian, and 6% other (National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_303.70.asp).