James Davidson Hunter, in his book *To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World*, has named pluralism as one of the biggest challenges facing the world, and Christianity, today. How is the church doing in rising to the challenge? The results have been mixed at best.
Take Ferguson, for instance. Ferguson was, among other things, a flare that threw a stark light on the deep faults that run through not only the American society at large, but also through the American church. Conversations—or rather, pronouncements—ensued, and cumulatively exposed our harsh reality.
We live and worship in segregated and divided churches, inhabiting different worlds, at odds with each other, and unable to see what the other can see; we do not live in the one body of Christ giving united witness to the kingdom of God, according to the confession of our faith: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)
The slippage in these communiqués from different realities told a tale of brokenness that cries out for the gospel of reconciliation under the administration of Christ the Prince of Shalom. We are in desperate need of the gospel at work in our world(s).
However, the tale has not been one of unmitigated fracture and dissolution. As the New Year dawned, I was at a standing-room-only gathering of believers from various congregations in Philadelphia, including Blacks and Whites, Hispanics and Asians. Its purpose was to convene diverse believers who would worship, converse, and pray for the issues of racial divisions that have so recently resurfaced—yet again!—in our society. It provided a flesh-and-blood glimpse of the Christian hope of redemption, and those who gathered gravitated towards this hope with great yearning.