Of great value in America today is tolerance. More specifically celebration of diversity. I want to be clear, I am all for it. It is crucial to not only remember, but live in ways that honor the various ways God created human beings. i am working in my own life to be sure I am always looking to press my white, middle-class, conservative boundaries. At the same time there is a great caution in this area of diversity and tolerance.
I attended a seminary which claimed to have a place for every voice. The claim was one of great diversity. You know, true diversity is hard. The seminary I went to, and I have very different theological, political and life understandings. This was all well and good as long as after three years there my voice sounded like theirs.
Diversity and tolerance is not simply giving room for every voice. It is not even a matter of everyone having the same voice. Diversity means that we honor the differences we see between people. The great challenge is not excluding a voice. Being who I am brings with it many privileges, however, increasingly in our world and in the church folks such as myself are being pushed to the margins. Now, I do not think tolerance means white males once again claim center stages, but they should not be excluded because of being white males.
In the end there are two significant challenges which must be negotiated in the waters of diversity and tolerance. Making sure that each voice is truly heard and valued. That each person have equal opportunity to opportunity. Second is the issue of excellence. Often excellence is sacrificed for the sake of diversity. In Christ's church this is a horrible crime. God longs to have the absolute best we can offer, no matter what our make up is. When we sacrifice excellence for diversity, we are not honor God or people, only an ideology. This in turn is idolatry. We should walk very carefully.