A Theological Statement on Cultural Diversity and Responsibility – Asbury University
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A Theological Statement on Cultural Diversity and Responsibility


Foundational to Christian life is the commandment to love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39), out of which we live our call to worship God and to honor each other as made in the image of God. Asbury University believes cultural diversity and cultural responsibility emerge out of its Christian ethic.

Asbury University is an institution of Christian higher education with a strong foundation in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. The Wesleyan-Holiness tradition celebrates the transforming power of complete surrender to the work of God’s grace in the life of the individual and the life of the Church. As scripture teaches, we believe our deepest community is within the fellowship of Jesus Christ, and this fellowship results from our oneness with Christ and transcends culture and ethnicity (Galatians 2 & 3). Our unique cultures and ethnicities are not lost within the family of God. Instead, in relationship with Christ and a biblical understanding of the kingdom of God, cultural and ethnic diversity is valued and celebrated. Thus we seek to be a community that celebrates all cultures and ethnicities represented on our campus.

A Theological Framework for Cultural Diversity and Responsibility

Over the last century Asbury University has been working toward what it means to be a community that reflects the diversity of the people of God, honoring and valuing persons of all cultures and ethnicities as awareness and understanding of this concept have deepened over time. We have failed to embody adequately cultural and ethnic diversity, but throughout time we have grown in our desire to represent the kingdom of God and celebrate an intercultural community. The following presents a theological framework regarding our commitment to cultural diversity and cultural responsibility.

The Book of Genesis opens with a beautiful description of God bringing the world into existence adorned with intentional diversity, yet forming an interrelated whole (1:1-31). God judged it to be “very good” (1:31). Humanity’s creation in the image of God as male and female points to this wondrous distinction, yet oneness in the world (1:27). Likewise, the Book of Revelation concludes with John’s vision of God sovereignly bringing the created order in its holistic diversity into final union with Christ. God-ordained differences in the world and in humanity are not swept away in eternity but brought to their ultimate purpose – the glory of God (21:1–22:16). People from every nation, tribe, and language are pictured as standing united in their diversity before God in joyful worship (7:9).

Genesis anticipates God’s plan to unite all humanity in Jesus Christ. The problem is that sin has corrupted creation’s original goodness and seeks to disrupt God’s ultimate purpose (Genesis 3). The image of God in humanity, empowering female and male to live in the bond of love with God, creation, and each other, has been marred and fractured. Humanity now is driven by “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy” (Galatians 5:20). Our sin has prevented us from living in right relation to God and His diversely created order. The Old and New Testaments poignantly trace a history of how human differences marred by sin have led to misunderstanding, separation, oppression, and animosity at every level in our social relationships.

We acknowledge that, as an institution of Christian higher education, we have not consistently expressed love or practiced social justice. As a Christian community committed to loving God and neighbor, we confess that we have failed to be obedient to Christ’s call to self-sacrificial love in Matthew 22:37-39. “We confess we have not loved God with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, we pray (Prayer of Confession and Pardon, MH). We confess that such disobedience and sin is at the root of a grievous historical reality: segregation. With the exception of some international students, Asbury remained a virtually all-white institution until the early 1960s. We repent of this sin and disobedience and seek, through God’s grace, to embody a faithful Christian response to contemporary problems such as racial injustices, equity, reconciliation, human trafficking, and environmental & economic stewardship.

Despite human sin and failure, God’s redemptive purpose unfolds in creation. Through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a new human community has been formed and empowered to embody unity amid our diversity. Paul in the Book of Ephesians, Corinthians and Galatians, describes the Church as the “mystery” made known in the Gospel (1:9; 3:3-6, 9; 5:32; 6:19), where “the dividing wall of hostility” between humanity has been broken down, bringing people together into one body, making them into one humanity who experience all the purposes of God in Christ Jesus (2:11-22; 3:3-6). We are redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection and hence, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old has gone the new is here.” As a community where our divisions are overcome in “reconciliation, love and unity” and our diversity recognized as a gift, the Church exists as a tangible witness of God’s wisdom to an unredeemed world and to the “principalities and powers in heavenly places” which seek to divide us (2:11-21; 3:6, 10).

A Commitment to Cultural Diversity and Responsibility

Asbury University now makes a deeper commitment to embody the God-ordained diversity of humanity, recognizing that God equips us for grace-filled reconciliation with all marginalized, oppressed, and displaced people. John Wesley believed “first evidences” of the “age to come” are being expressed already in present life, and we pray for and work toward a time when our particular community of students, staff, faculty, and administration reflects more fully the diversity in unity we see pictured in John’s vision of God’s kingdom in Revelation. Asbury is committed by God’s grace to equipping our students with the disposition, knowledge, and skills necessary to work toward a diverse Church and a world reflective of God’s purpose in creation. We work to partner with the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and restoration to what sin has corrupted in culture and community.

Asbury’s Wesleyan-Holiness theological tradition offers resources for building communities that reflect the whole communion of the people of God, and we seek to embody these with renewed vigor. John Wesley, modeling prophetic critique and priestly compassion, engaged the perspectives of the marginalized in English society. Revivalistic fervor among 19th-century Methodists helped spark widespread social reform in the United States. Some early Wesleyan activists agitated against slavery, domestic abuse, alcohol abuse, political corruption, and the exclusion of women from social and ecclesial spheres. Wesley’s work highlights the role of diverse human experience in discerning truth. To this end Asbury University moves forward, taking hold of the vision mentioned in Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’” where “God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).


Asbury University is committed to preparing and sending students who understand and are able to negotiate complex realities of a culturally and ethnically diverse context. Our vision is for faithful change to cultivate a culturally responsible Christian community that practices hospitality, mutuality, redemptive social action, and grace-filled reconciliation. As an academic community of vibrant Christian faith and practice, we are dedicated to providing thought and action leadership on advancing cultural competency, creating conditions for modeling intercultural engagement, and developing and maintaining an environment conducive to experienced equity.