Diversity = God?

I’ve long been pained that our United Methodist marketing campaign, “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors,” has replaced our official doctrine (which, according to the Book of Discipline, is of determinate Christian substance). The apparent relativism of our marketing slogan makes a poor substitute for the historic faith of the church.

Especially painful is one of the statements uses in the campaign, “I believe that when you truly embrace diversity you embrace god.” My take on this has been that we’ve taken a trendy abstraction – “diversity” – and raised it to equality with deity. (“Embrace” is just as trendy, but at least it’s a verb.) I don’t watch much tv, so I’ve never seen the ad in which this statement occurs – I’ve only seen it on t-shirts – so I’ve never had the proper context to evaluate it.

Now I’ve found a deeper explanation of the theological thinking behind the campaign. Though I’m not convinced by the arguments in the paper, I was surprised to find one of the scriptural supports offered for “embracing diversity.” On p. 6 is says:

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. (see Jonah 3-4, NRSV)

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He didn’t want to preach to the evil Ninevites. He didn’t want God to have mercy on them. But he “embraced diversity” and went. (Can we say that he went only after a Big Fish “embraced diversity?”) Jonah overcame his prejudices and stereotypes to go preach God’s word to the people of Nineveh.

What was that word? The NRSV puts is this way: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” As far as we can tell, there was no command of repentance, no offer of forgiveness. It was simply, “You’re going to suffer God’s judgment.”

Before I read this piece at the Igniting Ministry website I never imagined that UMCOM meant that “embracing diversity” included preaching the judgment of God on sin. I’d been afraid they’d tossed out everything about sin and judgment and were simply into affirming everything – even the popular sins of the day.

Now I know better. I stand corrected.

This entry was posted in church growth, Theology, United Methodism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Diversity = God?

  1. guy says:

    yeah, silly you!

  2. Mark Byron says:

    One of the key passages in the handout you linked to talked about believing in God and each other. I’m reminded of James’ admonishment that the demons believed in God, and shuddered.

    Merely believing in God is nice, but that and $2.00 will buy you a cup of expresso.

    Diversity in Christ is just fine; diversity among folks who believe in a generic God isn’t.

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