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Tolerance or truth?

Are Christians intolerant?

Let's remind ourselves ...

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

This can't be explained away. I haven't found a credible commentator who views this verse in any way other than the plain meaning of the words.

Which means that there is only one unavoidable, uncomfortable, perhaps painful, conclusion.

Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. There it is.

So what do we say to the universalists, or the Catholics who insist on the sacraments, or those who follow another Jesus or other gods or no gods? Are they all wrong? If so, who are we to correct them, because some of them are seriously clever people? Are they all doomed? If so, who are we to condemn them, because some of them are seriously good people?

Before we consider this, let us consider ourselves.

So we return to agendas. If you passionately disagree with my argument so far in these articles then there's probably one word that comes to mind: intolerance.

The general thinking today is that, in these days of multi-culturalism, with folk of many faiths and no faiths sharing the global village, we Christians must be more inclusive and show more tolerance to others.

What should our reaction to this be?

What's more important, tolerance or truth? We can engage with the World in a spirit of tolerance, accepting other viewpoints, making concessions and handing over ground. We can do this to make people happy and make us feel good, but there's a sacrifice involved. We can conjure up a version of the gospel, that promises fluffiness, comfort and cosiness, that convinces us that the God of love is going to welcome everyone into Heaven with a great big smile in his beaming bearded old face.

Or we can live by the words of Jesus:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". (John 14:6)

This uncompromising unforgiving certainty may be at odds with your picture of God. Who do you worship; a sentimental Santa-like caricature that has been fed to us by the media - Christian or otherwise - or the real God of holiness and righteousness, who is incapable of sharing Heaven, by His very nature, with men and women who have not seriously dealt with their sins?

Tolerance or truth? Which is your agenda?

If tolerance is your agenda, then we must also consider the root of this agenda. What motivates your tolerance? Perhaps you would say a sense of fair play, even love. Humanly speaking, who could disagree with that? What could be better than people getting along with each other? After all, how many have been killed through the evils of intolerance, particularly religious intolerance? Wasn't 9/11 a product of this very evil?

But we are not speaking ... humanly. We are put on this Earth to act ... biblically.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

At the end of the day it is truth, not tolerance, that is going to get people into Heaven. And the rest ... ? We'll read about the alternative next week ...

Steve Maltz

(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth: And How it Can Find it Again)

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