Speaker Discusses How to Thrive in Pluralism

by University Relations

Can people with disparate views truly live in peace with one another? According to John Inazu, Ph.D., the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion and professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis—yes. In fact, the author of Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference (University of Chicago Press, 2016) claims that people can actually thrive in a pluralistic society, and done right, it defines a successful society. He shared these views with the Azusa Pacific community at this year’s Faculty/Staff Kickoff on August 23.

As the faculty and staff prepared for a new academic year amid the strife and conflict that permeate today’s culture, they welcomed this opportunity to engage in a dialogue about how to navigate these issues. The process toward harmonious living begins with recognizing that irreconcilable differences will always exist and becoming confident in one’s own beliefs to the point where other viewpoints cannot threaten them. When differences are expected and understood, conflict dissipates. Then, Inazu encourages the establishment of common ground. Despite disagreements, humanity shares many similarities that can help unite and heal.

For Christian universities such as Azusa Pacific, Inazu said that challenge lies in striking a balance between tolerance for dissenting views and a fearless open forum for them. By nature, these institutions espouse the freedom to pursue all knowledge and engage in robust inquiry and debate. Within the framework of the Christian academy, Inazu stressed that these scholars must constantly push boundaries and invite students to do the same with the confidence that comes from a firm foundation in the Truth. At times, this will call for American Christians to defend the rights of others with dissenting —often opposite—views to speak and assemble. In this way, APU faculty, students, staff, and administrators can live out the Gospel freely, without coercion or conflict, modeling a peaceful approach to diversity that will make a difference in a hurting world.

Originally published in the Fall '17 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.