“We are each of us angels, with only one wing;
We can only fly by embracing each other.” [Luciano De Crescenzo]
“Embracing Diversity” is a clarion gospel call as the world and human society are exceedingly fragmented and divided in the name of nation, race, religion, creed, caste, culture, gender etc. The signs of our times demand to pay heed to this call. For future of the world and humanity will depend on the culture we adopt today – the exclusion or the embrace.
Looking at Biblically and theologically, “diversity” is a divine design. Perhaps, the beauty of God’s creation and human society is in diversity. The very God of the creation is a God of plurality and diversity. The Biblical accounts, both the Old and New, crystal clearly tell of God as the God of Plurality who advocates diversity. The world of diversity is vividly expressed in the creation accounts and the importance of diversity in God’s creation is over and again underscored throughout the Bible. For example, the “Tower of Babel” narrative in Genesis 11 continues to affirm the act of God in creating diversity. While the ancient people attempted to maintain their singular language, culture and identity, God moved them from mono-culture to multi-culture society. Further in the book of Jonah we see again God’s inclusivity, affirming the plurality and all-embracive treatment of the entire creation and humanity. Similarly, in the New Testament there are ample number of examples that shows how God advocates diversity. Jesus Christ, in his public ministry, embraced all sections of people irrespective of linguistic, cultural, religious, social and ethnic backgrounds. On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak to people of diverse languages (Acts 2:3 and 4). The Holy Spirit, instead of creating any form of “obscurity,” brought forth “clarity” in understanding the gospel of God in their own tongue. In fact, this is an affirmation of multilingual congregation that was desired by God. Secondly, Antioch, an ancient Greek city comprising different ethnic backgrounds, was the place where the first Gentile Church was founded (Acts 11:20-21) and the followers of Jesus Christ were called as “Christians” for the first time (Acts 11:26). God used the “multi-ethnic and multi-cultural” Antioch as a catalyst of the gospel that embraced people from diverse cultures. Even the diversity of leadership in theChurch at Antioch and the Pauline imagery of Church as the “Body of Christ shows God’s desire for unity in diversity. Finally, the apocalyptic vision of the fulfilment of the reign of God in the book of Revelation again proves the all-embracive nature of God’s creation and salvation.
Such scriptural witnesses and warrants on the nature and beauty of diversity in God’s creation and the people/community of God invite us all to embrace the diversity and affirm the God of plurality, and the multiple belongingness in God’s creation.
We live in a society where diversity is denied and homogeneity is strived for. We are in such a times as this where co-existence is under serious threat. In such a context where diversity is questioned in all spheres of life and singularity or uniformity is emphasized, Gurukul Lutheran Theological College & Research Institute has taken yet another bold theological step to address such an issue of public importance by formulating the theme for the academic year 2022-2023 as “Embracing Diversity.” As a theological community which moulds the individuals and communities’ perceptions, it is utmost necessity that this theme is reflected in various perspectives throughout the academic year and its values are inculcated in daily living of Gurukul community. So, keeping in mind, the urgent necessity of embracing diversity and advocate pluralism Gurukul vows to articulate, propagate and practice an inclusive theology. For denying diversity is denying the very God of plurality.
I wish and pray that the exploration of the theme by the members of the Gurukul community in thought and practice will shed a great light on the Church and society at large to strive toward “Embracing Diversity” against the currents of intolerance and exclusion.
Rev. Dr. Songram Basumatary