The Joy of Diversity
The Joy of Diversity
The Revd Dr Christy Capper, Deputy Warden and Lecturer in Systematic Theology, Academic Dean
When I graduated from university, I began to work full time as a staff worker with Power to Change (formerly Student Life, part of Campus Crusade for Christ). One of the questions that people would ask me, both students and people in local churches, was ‘why is there more than one Christian group on campus?’
It was a fair question. The fact was, the two major Christian groups on campus were both non-denominational and had nearly identical beliefs, but we had different cultures. We had different ways of working, different flavours. Some students came to Student Life who would never have gone to Christian Union, and vice versa. Their diverse cultures and flavours aided people who came to faith in Christ through these different groups. We used to work together for joint events, and the staff teams and student leaders got on well - our different flavours were a blessing.
In some of my theological work I consider the blessing that difference can be when we value it in one another and value the opportunities that these differences give us to share the love of Jesus with different groups of people. When I think back to those days of university ministry, working with different groups of Christians from various denominations and backgrounds helped me to learn to value that our diverse voices could bring both dissent and harmony. It all depended on how we used them.
The Anglican Church has always been a complicated and diverse group of people and ideas. As I watched the opening night show of the musical Six (about the wives of Henry VIII – and an excellent musical!), I considered the complexity that was inherent in the formation of the Anglican church, the church politics mixed with national politics. We can’t escape complexity, but we can remember that our diversity can be a blessing.
This is one of the things I love about theological colleges, and about being at Wollaston Theological College. I love helping students come to understand their own faith, their own role in this diverse group of people that God has brought together. I love to take students through the thread of Christian theology for the past 2000 years and see the way that people have expressed their ideas about who God is. Different theologians have been living in different time periods, in vastly different cultural situations, and yet, there is a constant love of God. There is a common thread of their faith seeking understanding, of people of faith – lay and ordained – seeking to understand more of the God that worship that we may better love and serve our God.
For me, studying and teaching theology is a joy-filled endeavour. It is a journey that I love to take with students (with anyone really!). It isn’t a journey of trying to change people’s ideas or beliefs. It is not an ideological indoctrination – it is a journey of discovery, a journey of joyfully loving diversity and the blessing that this is to us in the work that God has given to us. As we close 2022 and live in the complexity and blessing of our diversity I look forward to a new year and to meeting students from a range of backgrounds who want to know and love and serve God more. I look forward to introducing them to the joy of learning more about God and who God has created them to be so that we might know the place in the body of Christ that we take and know that the kidney cannot say to the liver ‘I don’t need you’ but instead we can embrace and live into the difference and diversity that makes us whole.