Jesus the ‘Intolerant Bigot’
“The Gospel of Christ doesn’t care about ‘tolerance.’ It cares about truth.”
These words caused me to look up from my Bible Gateway app where I was reading along with selected scriptures. Matt Short, missions pastor at One Community Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, had just hit upon that elusive sweet spot in the tense continuum between truth and grace: two central features of Christ’s nature that are neither mutually exclusive nor at odds with one another.
By today’s secular-progressive standards — and, more vexing yet, by the standards of lukewarm Christians and ministries — Christ Jesus Himself would be slandered as an “intolerant bigot” and crucified all over again. Under the contemporary misconception of “tolerance,” which supposes that one must not only tolerate sin of every stripe, but refuse to call it sin, Christ was (and is) intolerant indeed. He commands us to repent of our sins: “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
The first step to repentance is recognizing sin for what it is and rejecting deceptive attempts to sanitize it by calling it something else (i.e., “choice,” “sexual orientation,” “she’s not my wife, but we’re soul mates” and the like). Rather than admonishing the adulterous woman to, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (see John 8:11), postmodernism demands that our never-changing Lord tell her: “Go now and continue your life of sin.” This is not true grace.
It is cheap grace.
And it is apostasy.
Alas, it’s true: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Far too many “seeker friendly” and mainline Christian denominations do just that. They call evil good. They intentionally omit the central “repent and sin no more” elements of the good news (or otherwise affirm sin altogether) for fear of driving away would-be fish in the net — those slippery little buggers (aren’t we all?) who prefer whirling about in a toxic sea of temptation, rather than surrendering to the Fisher of Men.
The Nicer Than Jesus False Gospel
Pastor Short did no such thing. In fact, he went on to address Paul’s rebuke of the church in Galatia. Much like today’s “nicer than Jesus” set, they adopted a false gospel that, in their eyes, made them more “relevant” and palatable to the world around them.
Wrote Paul: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:6-8)
Not very tolerant.
But grace, tempered with truth, nonetheless.
“As we have already said,” Paul continued, “so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:9-10).
And so, according to Paul, those who shrink from the “full counsel of God,” are not only out of line, they are under “God’s curse.” The fall he took on the road to Damascus clearly knocked out his ability to skate the thin ice of political correctness.
The Pleasing People False Gospel
Still, like the Galatians, far too many in today’s church are more concerned with not offending others, most especially those who are without Christ Rather than being fearless “servants of Christ,” they have busied themselves with “trying to please people.” And, like the Galatians, they have created a false gospel to that end.
Does the world hate you?
It should. Why? Because like Jesus, you should be preaching repentance. This is what Jesus said: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19).
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber.