The world around us is changing at a velocity unprecedented in human history. But we must realize that while the world seems to be changing almost regularly before our eyes, the task of the ministry remains absolutely the same. The founders of this school were convinced that Christian ministry should be modeled on the life and teaching of Jesus and his Apostles and later handed down to men such as Timothy, Paul’s protégé in ministry.
Increasingly, the world is recognizing that to be human is to live by the light of a story — a story that tells us about the past, explains the future, and situates us in the present. Yet from a Christian worldview we recognize that the stories promulgated by the world are not only inadequate as metanarratives but toxic to human flourishing. Ministers of the gospel also have a story to tell — the story of Scripture, the story of Jesus and his love. This is the story that leads to salvation and a story we must not get wrong.
A prominent question many worldviews and metanarratives are now wrestling with is the question of human diversity. Diversity is a fact that cannot be denied. The insularity of other cultures — which has always been partial — has now given way the phenomenon of globalization. It is hard to miss the fact that we are living in an age of increasing diversity; not just the world at large but even in our own nation and communities. In fact, some sociologists are now indicating that may soon be a majority-minority nation — a fact which is already a reality in some states. If our churches are truly going to represent the kingdom, if they are truly going to be gospel churches, then our churches are going to start to look more and more like our nation’s changing demographic map. Furthermore, our churches will rejoice in those changes.
As I indicated above, non-Christian worldviews are also wrestling with the issue of diversity and are providing woefully inadequate, even toxic explanations. Racism is of course one of those toxic approaches to the issue of diversity. Racism — a story that is not new and seems never to go away — suggests that human beings have permanent differences that must be evaluated along a spectrum of superiority and inferiority. Racism is one of the primal human sins and one of the most difficult to eradicate. It is the very antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ and everything that Christians should know, believe, teach, and live.
Another approach is the pluralistic cosmopolitan story which suggests that somehow humanity will arrive at the creation of a global community sharing a cosmopolitan ideal and a cosmopolitan citizenship that eradicates not only race and ethnicity but also citizenship and nation.
Another approach to the issue of diversity is that of radical individualism — a story that promotes the notion that we belong only to ourselves and are basically a people of one. Few people would admit that this is indeed their worldview. However, our individualism shows through in our lives even when it does not show up in our speech.
For Christians, the question is essentially the same as that asked of Jesus by a lawyer: “Who is my brother?” As a gospel people, our responsibility is to see the world, its headlines, and its heartaches through gospel eyes. To do so is to discover a counter-narrative to the stories the world is telling and the stories that are tearing the world apart. This counter-narrative is both hopeful and real. What we need is biblical theology in service to the gospel and a clear proclamation of the gospel as the key to our biblical theology.