In the previous essay I promised to explore three reasons why I do not believe that the principles of diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy as advocated by the academic champions of Critical Race Theory are mandated or supported by the Christian faith. I dealt with the first reason in the previous essay, arguing that DEI philosophy is a worldly political theory designed for governance of everyone within a sovereign state. Christianity is not a worldly political theory and does not obligate Christians to support any such philosophy. Today I will address the other two reasons and bring this series to a close.
Freedom versus Coercion
(2) DEI philosophy is not compatible with Christian ethics as taught in the New Testament. I can deal with this issue briefly because I addressed it already in the essay of June 4, 2021. As I argued in that essay, though Christianity is not a worldly political philosophy and does not obligate us to support any worldly political philosophy, some political orders are more compatible with Christianity than others. Christians surely want to live in a political order where they can freely embrace and practice faith in Jesus. Likewise, if Christians embrace Jesus’s Golden Rule they should also wish others to enjoy freedom to refuse or embrace Christianity. For this reason I argued that, if given a choice between classical liberalism and DEI political philosophy, clear thinking Christians will choose classic liberalism. I concluded the June 4th essay with these words:
Traditional liberalism embraces the truth of the saying, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” In contrast, the philosophy of DEI aims at the unattainable goal of perfection and in doing so becomes the enemy of the good. DEI is not rational because it mistakes its utopian visions for politically achievable plans. It is not psychologically sound because it assumes people will in the long run acquiesce to having their property and positions taken away and redistributed to others in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is immoral in that it employs coercion, racial prejudice, theft, and injustice to achieve its goals. Hence DEI politics is most certainly not mandated by Christianity. And in contrast to liberal political philosophy, it is not even compatible with Christianity.
(3) Diversity, equity, and inclusion, as understood in critical theory, are not Christian ethical principles. Nor are they compatible with Christian ethics. First, let’s get clear that the way of life set forth in the New Testament by Jesus and his apostles applies only to Jesus’s disciples, to his Church, that is, to people who claim to be and really are Christians. Now let’s take diversity, equity, and inclusion one at a time and assess their relationship to New Testament ethics.
DEI philosophy treats diversity as a positive value in itself. According to this viewpoint the racial, ethnic, and gender makeup of the personnel within an institution—college, business, government agency, or private club—should reflect the proportions of those identity groups within society at large. Disparities in these proportions signal racism, sexism, or some other ugly prejudice as their hidden cause.
Christianity as described in the New Testament does not view diversity as a standalone value. When the NT mentions diversity of gifts and offices within the church (1 Cor 12; Eph 4), it always sets diversity in the context of unity and harmony. And it never seeks to reflect the diversity of group identities within society at large. Diversity is not an end in itself to be sought at the expense of other qualities central to the identity of the church. If the DEI philosophy were applied to the church, it would destroy it by making something other than faith in Christ the principle of inclusion.
DEI views equity through the eyes of group identity and social conflict. It is political to the core. Members of different racial groups must be treated differently to correct the inequalities among them. The Christianity of the New Testament views human beings within a universal frame. The gospel is preached to all people. All are invited to believe and participate. Within the family of believers, there are poor, widows, orphans, aged, sick, imprisoned, and others in vulnerable positions. Christian ethics is unambiguously clear that those within the church who are able to help those in need are obligated to do so (Matt 25:14-46; 1 John 3:17; James 2:14-17). However, Christian ethics does not countenance treating people differently based on race. It views people as individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses, resources and needs. We should rush to help the sick and the poor. The well and the rich do not need our assistance. Compassion, love, generosity, and hospitality are Christian virtues. Equity is not.
DEI philosophy makes inclusion a central moral principle, as if excluding anyone from any group or institution is always wrong. Of course, this notion is illogical and impractical. Inclusion is meaningless unless the group into which you want to be included has an identity, and identity involves exclusion as well as inclusion. If everyone is included in everything, no one is included in anything! (For more analysis of inclusion, see the essay of May 29, 2021.) DEI uses the rhetoric of inclusion to urge inclusion of certain favored (not all!) previously excluded groups.
The Christianity of the New Testament invites and welcomes people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. But it invites them to believe the gospel, repent of their sins, be baptized, and take up the life of a disciple of Jesus. It welcomes all who do this. However, if you do not believe in Jesus, do not want to stop sinning, if you reject baptism, and want to live according to the flesh, you are self-excluded. You cannot be a Christian unless you believe and live as a Christian! Christianity does not exclude or include anyone based on race or economic status.
Conclusion to the Series
I felt compelled to write this seven-part series on the diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy not so much because it is a destructive, divisive, impractical, and irrational political philosophy—though it is that!—but because I have had to endure the little sermons of some who proclaim that DEI philosophy is plainly, even supremely Christian. It is extremely painful to listen to such displays of pious ignorance and virtue signaling. Even with the most generous interpretation I can manage, it seems they have allowed the superficial resemblances of diversity, equity, and inclusion to Christian principles and their over-charitable—not to say naïve—interpretations of these terms to blind them to their true meaning and destructive implications. But I am very clear that DEI philosophy is not a Christian way of thinking. It is rather a deeply cynical deification of the primitive forces of nature. And opening the door of the Christian fold to this wolf in sheep’s clothing is an act of treachery in which I will not participate.
Hello again Ron, blessings to you, yours and your ‘oh so lucky to have you’ students.
Yes, i’ve been quiet. But now may i thank and congratulate you on this tour de force series and today’s summary of dare i say it, Lord?; yes, i think i will ” perfect truth”…
Briefly– you sent me off hunting thro’ my library early on, and i was lead to the way you’d started to ‘greek-think’. And so, as you’d begun in the vane of Plato by more or less stating that practical injustice was to be preferred to justice (yup. Read Plato’s Republic folks) one of course had to go back to Plato, and my rusty greek to check up on post modernism…
The way you’ve critically added Christian new covenant love, into DEI has undoubtedly made it a ‘sweet savour’, a DELI perhaps? So sorry, couldn’t resist.
And i wasn’t surprised at all, when my rereading exposed that it really wasn’t Voltaire that first suggested ‘perfection as the enemy of the good’, it was Plato (many references available).
I’m really totally humbled by the quality of what you’ve written herein Ron. I hope and wish that every Christian and non-believer should read and understand your exacting views.
Finally. Having discussed last week’s essay with a group, we’d concluded that such discussions of DEI were very Society dependent (all world societies) and that it’s precepts were practically moulded by the type of society involved. For example, Tyrranical, Oligarchical, Meritocratic, Democratic and Theocratic societies.
Modern societies around the globe seem to fit broadly into these types, with perhaps a wholly Christian theocracy the least represented– we were thinking of the Vatican State. And we were saddened to think of many societies currently somewhere between tyrrany and oligarchy, or in some ways worse, between those and a so-called democracy– where, as you say, DEI has resulted in an ethos of “taking” rather than “giving”.
Thank you again, Ron.
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Jonne: Thank you for your encouragement! You always make such intelligent and informed comments from which I have learned much. Ron
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