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Churches Impacted by Pluralism Scholars: Diverse Yet Discern the Truth

( [email protected] ) Apr 23, 2018 01:56 PM EDT
Today’s society promotes diversity and criticizes the thinking in the past. Pluralism also impacts the church greatly. It challenges the sole truth of the church. A scholar points out that we should still discern the truth while being multicultural.
To be united does not mean to unite our thoughts. Web Image

Today's society promotes diversity and criticizes the thinking in the past. Pluralism also impacts the church greatly and challenges the sole truth of the church. A scholar points out that we should still discern the truth while being multicultural.

Dr. Bernard Wong, Assistant Professor (Theology Studies) at the China Graduate School of Theology, pointed out at "Theology Seminar for Youth" that according to social studies, the generation of 30-49-year-olds believed that laws derived freedom; and the generation of 18-29-year-olds emphasized that democracy brought freedom. The studies show that different generations have their own preferences on unifying the order in the society and the expression of diversity.

Believers Desire Diversity but Should Differentiate Right from Wrong

Dr. Wong stated that the diversity mentioned in Christian belief started from the Trinity. It is "one" but also "many". God is one, but also three. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are all perfect God individually, but their roles are different. They are equal and have a close relationship. Their natures are the same and does not come from division. Their unity does not go against diversity. This demonstrated that our world, which needed coordination and harmony, was enriched by diverse creations.

Dr. Wong further talked about "diversity." He reminded believers to differentiate between "plurality" (one, but many) and "pluralism" (many and disunified). The outcome of the latter includes: the pursuit of individual values, the belief that rights are sacred and unbreakable, the attitude of "nothing defies me", the neglecting of communication and consensus, etc.

He believed that while confirming diversity, believers should still try to differentiate right from wrong. Diversity does not mean there is no need to distinguish right and wrong.  When believers discussed political spectrums and homosexual topics, they should not use diversity as a reason and should tell right and wrong. We could play the drums and guitars during worship but should not be separated from our faith.

Be One Does Not Mean to Unite Our Thoughts

Dr. Wong looked at pluralism from the nature of the church. He quoted two passages from the New Testament as examples. "26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28, NIV) This talks about "many becoming one because of Christ".

Another passage is "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:3-6, NIV) The seven "one's" mentioned referred to many becoming one because of Christ. It required seeing through faith to reach unity, but not uniting thoughts, opinions or actions.

However, in contrary, God asked His people to do this: "then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind." (Philippians 2:2, NIV) Is this challenging the reality of pluralism or not?

Churches should Insist "A Peaceful Divergence"

Dr. Wong believed that this is trying to achieve the same goal of pursuing the truth and differentiating right from wrong. It did not rely on "a loud voice" or "great power", but to "have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5, NIV), take care of each other without "selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

He concluded that after the experience of Hong Kong society being torn apart, Hong Kong churches should wake up and insist that "a peaceful divergence" become our testimony.

("Theology Seminar for Youth" was organized by Christian & Missionary Alliance Church Union Hong Kong Youth Department and Alliance Bible Seminary Department of Theology together in 2016) 

(Source: Gospel Herald)