Diversity in the Christian School: Why Diversity Matters to a White Person, Part 2

Dan PanettiDiversity in the Christian School, The CACE Roundtable1 Comment

Diversity in the Christian School

On September 24, CACE posted “Why Diversity Matters to a White Person,” my thoughts about why I, as a white person, feel compelled to engage in meaningful discussions and actions related to diversity, equity and inclusion issues. The post received several appreciative, thoughtful, and challenging responses, for which I am grateful. There were some concerns raised that I want to address in this additional post.

First, some readers assumed that by using the term “race,” I was buying into Critical Race Theory (CRT), which sees the world in terms of a power struggle between oppressor and oppressed. A critical examination of CRT will have to wait for another blog post. Suffice it to say, that I do hold to the Biblical concept that there is only one race–the human race–and that the term “ethnicity” is a better description for the diversity in God’s created order. Whereas “race” is a social construct, it is also a term used to describe our current reality. While the Bible teaches that God has created only one race, it clearly acknowledges that racial/ethnic division exists and must be addressed through reconciliation. Whether you’re looking at the Parable of the Good Samaritan or the opposition from Miriam and Aaron to Moses’ Cushite wife, the Bible examines the social constructs, opinions, and prejudices in human society and instructs us to do so as well.

Secondly, in my post I used the term “social justice.” Because of the brevity of the article, I was unable to define what has become a loaded term. Some assumed that by using this term, I was negating the heart of the Gospel: salvation through Christ alone. This is a common misunderstanding. In no way was I choosing social justice over the atoning work of Jesus. Instead, like for many Christians advocating for social justice engagement, my point is that those saved cannot sit on the sidelines when they see injustice. Complacency in this arena is not an option.

God’s command in Micah 6:8 is well known: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” That action is lived out in society, not in isolation. Changed lives change laws. Trust me: I understand that good works do not save a person. But the Bible clearly assumes that saved people exhibit the fruit of their salvation. In the short 46 verses of Titus, the writer uses the phrase “good works” five times as a challenge to believers to live out their faith.

In supporting Biblically-sound social justice activism, I am inspired by one of my favorite authors, Francis Schaeffer. In his day, he battled against the philosophical shift from one Truth to many truths (relativism) and the separation of God’s truth from all other facets of life. As I read and digested Schaeffer over the years, I saw how quick he was to point out where the truth was under attack. He called on Christians to stand boldly on the truth of God’s Word. In his book The God Who Is There, he attributes the following quote to Martin Luther:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

I see a similar battle over the issue of race, ethnicity, and diversity today. We attack opinions we don’t like from others but leave untouched unjust power structures or individual prejudice. We question whether racism even exists, ignoring and silencing the testimonies of our brothers and sisters of color. We toss out selected statistics in cases where understanding and empathy are needed. We glorify national history, ignoring the chapters that are not only uncomfortable but call for repentance.

My challenge from Part 1 remains: the call to engage in a meaningful and thoughtful conversation about an important issue of our day. When you enter this conversation, there will be those who misunderstand or even seek to malign you. Do not be dissuaded in your journey and pursuit of justice, truth, and mercy. You may take a misstep; graciously correct it. You may say something offensive; ask for forgiveness. You may support a concept only to find out that it wasn’t what you thought; learn and move on. But don’t stay on the sidelines. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, an injustice anywhere is an offense to our Father in Heaven!


This article is part of a series on diversity in the Christian school.

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One Comment on “Diversity in the Christian School: Why Diversity Matters to a White Person, Part 2”

  1. Thanks, Dan, for both of these blog posts. I deeply appreciate your elaboration on a couple of key phrases that seem to be getting in the way of Christians thinking higher/ascending/more deeply about unity, where we find it (in the work and person of Christ and God’s Word) and how we express it. As you note, it seems to be where the devil is attacking and trying to divide. Appreciating your writing, that of Schaeffer and Luther, as we walk alongside our students and families to find this unity and create opportunities for students to express it.

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