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Unity and Diversity

Formal Statement

As a seminary rooted in sound biblical exegesis and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we are guided in our work for racial reconciliation by this statement of diversity.

Visit our page on Diversity, Hospitality & Culture to learn more about our responses to racism, which include requiring diversity in course syllabi and learning outcomes related to racism, changing hiring practices, and implementing new models for partnerships as we move forward.


Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Statement on Unity and Diversity

(Formerly titled the Theology of Diversity, Inclusion & Equity)

As a Christian learning community whose mission is to prepare men and women for ministry, we have a charge “to work with churches towards the maturing of students so that their experiential knowledge of God in Christ is evidenced in their character, outlook, conduct, relationships and involvement in society” (Mission Statement, Article 4). In this work, we are guided by the following theological understanding of unity and diversity.

For Christians, diversity, inclusion and equity are not goals to be pursued for their own sake, but need to be considered in connection to the Christian goal of unity. Christians are called to be one as the Father and Son are one, sharing in the unity and communion the Father and Son have enjoyed from before the foundation of the world. This is the unity for which humanity was created, the unity that was broken through the fall, the unity that has been restored for believers through redemption in Christ, and the unity that will ultimately be consummated in the eternal presence of God with his redeemed people. Accordingly, we must understand diversity, inclusion and equity in light of unity, in the context of creation, fall, redemption (including the life and mission of the church), and consummation.
 

Creation

God created a universe whose diversity glorifies God and testifies to his own goodness as its creator. At the center of his created purposes, he placed human beings, whom he created in his image, male and female, to live in communion with himself and one another, and to exercise dominion over creation. Accordingly—

  • We affirm the full humanity, value and dignity of every human being— of any race, class, gender or ethnicity, of any age, with whatever limitations or handicaps, whether believer in Christ or unbeliever.
  • We affirm our intention to treat all human beings with love, respect and consideration in light of their inherent dignity as those created in the image of God.

 

Fall

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God, resulting in a breach in their relationship with God, with each other, and with the creation itself. Human sin not only leads to conflict among individuals, but also among ethnic groups and nations, representing a tragic loss of the unity of humanity at creation. Accordingly—

  • We affirm that all relationships between human beings have been marred by the fall and that this includes relationships between groups of human beings—especially racial and ethnic groups.
  • We recognize that these marred relationships are often manifest in injustice and oppression, the preying on the weak or the marginalized by the strong, corruption, discrimination, abuse, enmity, slander, hatred and more—both in systems and in individual practices.
  • We lament and repent of any ways in which we have participated in this evil, actively or passively.
  • We recognize that such a corruption of our relationships cannot be fully reversed merely by human initiative, as well-intentioned as it might be.

 

Redemption in Christ

God has acted and continues to act out of love and justice to reverse the effects of human sin and to restore human beings to unity with himself and with one another. Foundational to this divine action are the incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the descent of his Spirit to indwell both individual Christians and his body, the church. Through Jesus Christ, God has inaugurated his kingdom, and established the church as his people, called to respond in repentance and faith to the Gospel and to live out its values. Accordingly—

  • We affirm that the one body of Christ reflects the beauty and diversity of God’s creation, and as members of that body, we embrace God’s commandment to love one another in our differences.
  • We acknowledge our need for one another and resolve in humility to value those who bring their different gifts for the edification of the body of Christ in unity.
  • We affirm that the church is called to manifest the righteousness and justice of the heavenly Kingdom, by caring for the marginalized and ‘the least of these,’ and by confronting systemic injustices.
  • We affirm that the church is called to be a community in which we seek forgiveness from the Lord and from each other for both individual and corporate sin.
  • We lament and repent of any ways in which we, personally or as an institution, have marginalized certain Christians or groups of Christians (especially on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender), and by ignoring their voices failed to value them as sisters and brothers in Christ.

 

Consummation

At the end of history the kingdom of God will be consummated, at which time wickedness and injustice will receive their just reward, and the shalom to which God called humanity will find its perfect fulfillment. God’s redemptive plan will be realized in a vast multitude of the redeemed from every tribe, nation and tongue, united in their worship and enjoyment of the one God. Our bodies will be fully liberated from the corruption of death and sin, and we will be fully reconciled with one another. Our present partial perspectives, in which we see reality through a glass dimly, will be surpassed in the glorious vision of God. Accordingly, while we wait—

  • We commit to pray for and work toward a church-wide and worldwide community that reflects the love, justice and righteousness of God.
  • We commit to nurture relentless hope among ourselves, allowing the certainty of the fulfillment of God’s promises to inform our personal lives and community, and boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God, until Christ returns.

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