Unity and Diversity

I’ve heard Ravi mention this topic of unity and diverstiy but I was hoping someone had more information about it. I recall Ravi saying that only in the Christian worldview do you find unity and diversity and that you cannot have unity and diversity without it existing in the first cause, which is found in the community of the Trinity. Does someone understand why you need unity and diversity in the first cause to explain it on earth? Couldn’t a monad concept of God, say Allah, just create one mankind with multiple races and this not count as unity in diverstity? Or say evolution, couldn’t evolution explain unity in that we are all human but diversity in that we have different attributes for survival (dark or light skin, eye color, etc)? I guess in short, what am I missing? I sense I don’t fully understand Ravi’s point.

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@rla9316 If I understand correctly, Ravi’s point is that God Himself, being triune, is unity in diversity. We are made in God’s image; therefore we also reflect unity in diversity.

In Islam, Allah is not unity in diversity, but is only one. In a naturalistic framework, humans are the product of time + chance and therefore have no essential unity other than that they all are made of the same particles.

The Christian view of God as triune and man as made in God’s image provides inherent dignity to mankind and also an example of unity in diversity in God Himself.

I’m not sure if Ravi is actually trying to answer the exact question you seem to be posing. Are you asking how we can all get along together and be united even though we are different within a society? I think Ravi was explaining the Trinity in that video.

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@rla9316, your question caught my attention as I have been thinking about unity in the body of Christ recently. The desire for peace and unity is a universal hunger in all men whether they believe in God or not as Ravi Zacharias also mentions in his talk. I think the answer to your question may lie in identifying the ingredients necessary in the pursuit of unity.

I dont have a background in philosophy and I share my thoughts only as a lay person trying to make sense of life and the Christian faith. Regardless of the faith we hold, common sense leads us to pursue unity by focusing on matters of agreement and setting differences aside in an effort toward tolerance. So the unity that is seen is only because the true self and disputable matters are repressed. It’s somewhat of a facade of unity only based on our external expression. So true unity must be about pursuing it in the midst of who we really are. But being real is not enough when individual purposes contradict. So that brings in the need for a unifying higher purpose. Now people may come to an agreement on a higher purpose but if it is not based on truth, this purpose will fail. The pursuit of truth seems to be inescapable in the pursuit of true unity. Then comes the question of whether the truth is a thing or a person. If truth were just an impersonal law/force, our personal wills would again dominate without personal accountability burying the truth. So that brings us to the necessity of truth being a person or God. Now coming to your question, can the monad concept of God demonstrate to us unity in diversity? We have seen that unity is all about love. If God were just one in person and being, He would have never known love until man was created as love is always between two or more individuals, making God insufficient without man. If God has created us with the ability to love, He had to have known love. This is consistent with the idea of the trinitarian God - three in person ( diversity in roles) but one in being (one will) where love is possible between the three persons of God. Without the knowledge of love in the first cause ( i.e. God), what motivates man to love to the extent of self-sacrifice? How could love exist in the first cause without the concept of trinity? Considering the need for personal accountability to abide in truth and the need for the knowledge of love and self-sufficiency of the Creator, the trinitarian concept of God becomes necessary for true unity in diversity. What I find beautiful about the trinitarian concept of God is how the three persons of Godhead operate in harmony towards one purpose in different roles simultaneously. Its different from the hindu polytheistic framework where the gods though considered as forms of the same god, work on different purposes - creation, destruction, etc.

Some biblical support:

Truth as person

John 14: 6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Christ as first cause in God

Colossians 1: 15-17
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Unity through participating in the trinitarian God who is already complete in love and in one accord

John 17: 21-23
21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Trinitarian acts of God for one purpose with different roles

Here are a few examples:

Matthew 3:16

“After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.”

Matthew 12:28

“But if I [Jesus] cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

John 15:26

“When the Helper comes, whom I [Jesus] will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me . . .”

So, it seems true unity in the body of Christ is only possible when we are walking in complete obedience to the Spirit of truth. As we are in the “already but not yet” phase of realizing the kingdom of God we dont fully experience this true unity in diversity based on love in the Spirit of God. We may realize moments of true unity in the body of Christ to the extent we know and follow God’s will. What brings great joy is that one day we will have that longing for unity fulfilled in Christ according to the Bible. I hope you find this helpful in connecting the trinitarian concept of God with Unity in diversity. That’s a great question you have asked! So much to think about!

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Thank you @SeanO and @Lakshmismehta to you both. Lots to chew on! I suppose I’m trying to understand the significance of this idea of unity in diversity since Ravi said it has been such a major pursuit for philosophers throughout history and I think understanding it may shed some light on some profound truth Ravi is getting at.

Maybe rephrased the problem is how we can be essentially united while also retaining essential identity? I’m just thinking out loud here but if total unity swallows everything up into one uniform blob and total diversity isolates everything completely, is love possible in either? I don’t think so. We cannot selflessly love one another if we are not essentially separate from each other. And at the same time there is nothing to love if we are totally isolated. So we must have both unity and diversity together, without one swallowing up the other, for love to exist. And if this exists the effect of creation (aka us) it follows that it must also exist in the greatest possible being, which is God, and this is only possible in the community of the Trinity. Does logic this sound right? Am I overthinking it?

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@rla9316 I think Ravi’s main point was that if God is love He must be triune because love requires relationship. The fact that we all believe love to be one of the core virtues should be a testimony that God Himself is love and the only place we find a God who can truly be love is in the Christian faith. Does that make sense?

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@rla9316, I think your logic is absolutely right. From the little reading I did today, it seems that maintaining the connection and distinction in the relational beings of the God-head was one of the major concerns in the articulation of the doctrine of Trinity historically. For example: Gregory of Nyssa (335–394) spelled the doctrine of God as both communion and distinction. St John of Damascus (660-750) describes God’s communion as “united yet not confused, distinct but not divided”. The unique character of divine unity was stressed by - God the Father as the source, mutual indwelling in the three persons and a single energy/self-will but in separate entities. St. Gregory of Palamas affirmation that " Personal characteristics dont constitute a person but characterize a person" may help understand the distinction in the Trinity despite unity. What I mainly got about the basis of trinity for unity in diversity in human relationships is that - God’s love is a timeless interpersonal love between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, that existed before the foundation of the world but is extended into time so that man can draw from the mutual love of God and express it as much as possible in the community of believers. So the trinitarian concept of God allows for ‘the enlargement of the mutual love of God’ as the foundational motive for creation that a unitarian concept of God or evolutionary chance cannot do. Here are a couple sources on the subject of Trinity and human relationships. I landed upon these sources after reading a chapter on this topic in John Polkinghorne’s book called, " The Trinity and an Entangled world: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology".

the_Human_Person_as_an_Icon_of_the_Trinity.pdf (775.7 KB)

May the Lord guide you in wisdom as you seek to understand this truth better.

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