Summer 2019

University Leaders Approve New Statement on ‘Unity Amidst Diversity’

By Joanna Wu

Biola took an important step this spring by unveiling a long-anticipated document that will guide the university’s ongoing efforts to welcome and embrace biblical diversity on campus. The three-page theological statement, titled “Unity Amidst Diversity,” explores the biblical vision for Christians of diverse backgrounds to flourish together in a “vibrant community that is ultimately a countercultural witness to the world.” 

“We wanted to bring clarity through a biblically grounded document of our commitment to unity within diversity,” said Tamra Malone, Biola’s chief diversity officer. “In our society — on and off campus — there’s confusion about diversity. It’s important that we clarify and are intentional to communicate what the Scriptures have to say about diversity, and what our posture is as we try to live this out in the Biola community.” 

The document, approved by Biola’s Board of Trustees in January, is the result of many months of collaboration between members of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and faculty from Talbot School of Theology, who worked together to craft and refine a precise, compelling vision for biblical diversity. 

“I was so excited to read the document,” said Biola trustee Bryan Loritts (M.A. ’98), a pastor and author of several books on biblical diversity. “It covers a lot of ground biblically, making it clear that our commitment to unity within diversity is grounded in Scripture. Our commitment [is] to a robust gospel that on the one hand states our priority in emphasizing the vertical dimensions of the gospel — reconciled to God through Christ by grace and faith alone — along with the horizontal implications of the gospel seen in how we relate well with others who are different to us.” 

The statement — available at biola.edu/about/diversity — begins with a preamble that explains the biblical foundation for the university’s commitment to unity amidst diversity. It then explores three biblical themes related to diversity and concludes by highlighting the role of diversity in sanctification, in community flourishing and as a witness of Christ’s reconciling love. Malone is most excited by university leaders’ shared desire to see this document lived out at Biola, she said. 

“One major question I continue to receive from leadership is ‘How will you ensure this document is lived out throughout the life of the university?’” Malone said. “Maintaining our God-given unity will take effort, and not through the effort of one person or department.” 

To live this out, there is an individual commitment to allow the Holy Spirit lead in one’s work and interaction with others: by listening to learn, extending grace, asking for forgiveness and intentionally loving one another, Malone said. 

“As an institution, Biola must pursue and build a vision for biblical diversity and work this out together,” she said. 

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