Biola reflects on MLK’s transformative legacy

Panels discuss Martin Luther King’s vision of a non-conforming community.

Hannah Larson, News Editor

As part of Biola’s celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Division of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a chapel where a panel discussed how Biolans can fulfill King’s appeal for Christians to be a transformed, non-conforming community. Walter Augustine,  director of Intercultural Education and Research, guided the conversation by asking three panelists—India Long, Madeleine Topete and Amanda Abreu—how Biolans can follow King’s call to live according to their commitment to Christ.

A HIGHER LOYALTY 

Long, a junior English major and Student Government Association vice president of diversity and inclusion, said that people are culturally conditioned to hold on to grudges. She explained that it is easy to see people as issues to be disagreed with rather than as children of God, but said King and Scripture call Christians to find humanity in each other. 

Topete, a junior cinema and media arts major and SGA vice president of marketing and communications, explained that believers should live in light of the higher purpose King championed rather than settle for an insulated life. She pointed to Jesus as an example of someone who defied the status quo and enacted positive change throughout his ministry. 

 LEANING IN TO CONFLICT

Abreu, a public health major, said that both Scripture and King’s legacy inspire her to forgive offenders and engage in honest conversation with them. Long said that momentary disagreements lose significance when considered through an eternal perspective and encouraged Biolans to commit to loving their brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Topete highlighted the significance of remembering the humanity of a personal adversary. She explained that it is easy to revert to anger and assign labels to opponents, but recommended remembering that the opponent is a child of God. Topete called Biolans to intentionally enter unfamiliar spaces to participate in meaningful conversations that may be initially uncomfortable but hold lasting significance. 

ZOOM WEBINAR

Biola hosted a second panel discussion with faculty, students and alumni on a Zoom webinar to dive deeper into the tensions between Christianity and conformity that King highlighted. Participants explored what it looks like to imitate Jesus as transformed nonconformist believers. 

Transfer admissions counselor Esther Hwang pointed to Jesus’ fellowship with Matthew the tax collector to showcase the importance of Christians interacting with ostracized communities.  Student Missionary Union diversity and inclusion coordinator Alexandra Artuso emphasized listening to another person’s perspective before intentionally reflecting in prayer. 

According to the Chair of the Undergraduate Department of Philosophy Kent Dunnington, Christians have to embrace conflict and dissent in order to grow. 

“We need to develop a holy allergy to groupthink,” Dunnington said. “Anytime you’re in a big group of people and everyone agrees on who the good and bad guys are, Christians should be suspicious. It’s a call to be comfortable with disagreement. Otherwise we just get sucked into various tribalistic thought bubbles.”

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