This statement is part of a number of initiatives begun by the leadership of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the summer of 2019. 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 theology.
Other responses to racism have included requiring diversity in course syllabi, learning outcomes related to racism, changed hiring practices and new models for partnerships as we move forward.
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.” In this work, we are guided by the following theological understanding of diversity, inclusion and equity. The foundation for our understanding of diversity as an essential element in Divine unity is: creation, the Trinity, the Gospel (Luke 4:16–30), the Church’s mission (Matthew 28:16–20) and eschatology (Revelation 7:9–10).
God’s creation is tremendously diverse while also unified in bringing glory to the one, triune God. God’s creation of humans is described as “very good,” and that included the diversity already present (Genesis 1:31). This diversity in image-bearers reflects the Trinity’s unity-in-diversity.
Adam and Eve’s rebellion and the brokenness of the relationship between humans and God has marred all human relationships, including broken relationship between races and ethnicities. God condemns all injustice and oppression, but especially preying on the weak or marginalized (Isaiah 10:1–4). God’s great love brought the incarnation, and its expression on earth culminated in the cross as Jesus died for our sins. Divine love flowed from divine justice toward healing human injustice preeminently through Christ’s self-sacrifice. God’s holiness, justice and resurrection power is our hope for reconciliation with God and the foundation for our life together as the people of God (Ephesians 2:14–18).
God calls us toward a community of love, justice and righteousness. As members of the household of faith, we come together in our differences—we cannot be the family of God without those who are different from us (Romans 12:3–8). This inclusionary posture, characterized by love in our communities, our discipleship and our mission is evidence of life in the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:12–27). Additionally, we must be a just community—one of equity and respect as we serve and honor one another as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Amid a world that is far from the Garden of Eden, we find easy evidence of evil in the form of corruption, discrimination, abuse, enmity, slander, hatred and more—both in systems and in individual practices. Therefore, we lament and repent from any way which we have participated in this evil, actively or passively, and pursue the manifestation of God’s love, seeking forgiveness from each other and from the Lord. God intends for us to live in shalom, and we long for the vision of Revelation in which humanity flourishes together worshipping in the unmediated presence of God in His holy city:
“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9–10, NLT)
While we wait, we are called to pray for and work toward a community that reflects the nature of the triune God: one of love, justice and righteousness.