Published November 17, 2015
Tolerance , Uncategorized
Matthew 13 is a long chapter with several parables taught by Jesus. For the purpose of this topic, the parable of the wheat and the tares really stands out. Up to this point, the gospel of Matthew has largely been a gospel of repentance, with nothing resembling an ‘Anything Goes’ gospel. But the parable of the wheat and the tares provides an example of significant tolerance for those who are characterized as the children of the wicked one.
In this parable, a man sows good seed in the ground, and at night an enemy sowed tares among the wheat. When the seeds grew, the servants noticed that there were tares among the wheat. They asked the man if they should gather the tares out from the wheat. The man said that they should not, lest they should root up some wheat along with the tares. The servants were to wait until the time of the harvest. At that time the tares would be gathered and burned, while the wheat would be gathered into the barn.
If one wants to make a case for absolute tolerance, this would likely be the go to parable. Here the Lord is saying to leave the tares alone, even though they are clearly tares. The reason for this is to avoid destroying some of the wheat by hastily weeding out the tares. In the wake of the recent controversial policy, this parable may be just as applicable to current events as my recent post involving the destroying leaven from 1 Cor. 5. Should the servants of God be ridding themselves of a destroying leaven as Paul suggests? Or should the rather leave the tares alone as Christ suggests? Both instructions seem to apply, as do the examples.
Other than by revelation from God, I do not think one can know for sure what course of action should be taken. Do circumstances warrant purging a destroying leaven (to protect the saints), or do they warrant leaving the tares alone until the harvest (to protect the saints)?
The parable of the wheat and the tares present an impressive amount of tolerance, and while this tolerance is not necessarily absolute (the tares are tares, and they will be burned at the harvest), it does seem to border on it, suggesting that sometimes we should leave the purging to God.
Published November 16, 2015
For any of those who have followed this series, you may wonder if I will ever see any hint of an ‘Anything Goes’ gospel. Well, this chapter may bring a little balance. The relevant part to this study involves Christ and His disciples violating some of the culture of Sabbath Day observance of the time.
Continue reading ‘Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Sabbath Day (Matt. 12)’
Published November 14, 2015
Worlds seem to be colliding for myself and others at this critical time. I have been focusing some study on what the Bible does and does not say regarding unconditional love and tolerance, while at the same time the church puts out a controversial policy regarding same-sex marriage and children in such families. The timing is either really good, or really bad, depending on your point of view. In my prayerful study over this issue I felt lead to 1 Cor. 5 which seems to me to have direct parallels to current events.
In this short chapter, Paul speaks of the evil of fornication (a sexual sin), and how the people were ‘puffed up’ and ‘glorified’ in this behavior (tolerant). Paul’s warning is that these accepting attitudes will become a destroying leaven that will infect the entire lump. His instruction is to end the fellowship (church discipline) with these unrepentant sinners for a time, in the hopes that they will see the erroneous sinfulness of their actions and return to Christ in the end.
To me the parallels are striking with our current circumstances. Are the rapidly changing attitudes regarding serious sexual sins becoming a destroying leaven for the church today, and it’s leaders recommending a similar course of action as Paul made?
Published November 13, 2015
It seems like almost everywhere I lurk I see claims that the gospel of Jesus Christ demands absolute tolerance and radical inclusiveness. Lately, when I see this I have been turning to the New Testament to see if these claims match with what Christ actually taught. It has been amazing to me how much this is not matching up. Christ taught a narrow path that few find, and this continues in Matt. 11, and even if these posts are not drawing much attention, it has been a fascinating exercise for me.
Matt. 11 begins with John sending disciples to see if Christ is the one they have been waiting for. Christ summarizes the events of his ministry as a testimony that He is indeed the Messiah. Jesus then talks about the greatness of John the Baptist.
Jesus then begins to criticize the people for not accepting Him or John and saying that they ‘hath a devil’. He then upbraids the cities where his mighty works were done for their biggest problem: they repented not. This was Christ’s fundamental message, and it was not being heeded. Christ states that if these works would have been done in other places, that these places would have repented in sackcloth and ashes.
The chapter ends with the familiar invitation to come unto Christ, take his yoke upon us, and we will find rest because the yoke is easy and the burden is light. This is the inclusiveness, love and tolerance. The invitation goes to all. But the invitation is to repent and change, not to self-identify with, or deny our sins.
Published November 11, 2015
The recent controversy over the new handbook policy has brought with it additional claims that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be radically inclusive in its tolerance of pretty much anything. This has caused me to revisit my study of Matthew to see if this is indeed the case, and as fate would have it, the next chapter is Matt. 10, which does seem to address this claim negatively.
This chapter starts out with Jesus calling and sending out the apostles. His very first instruction to them is to not go to the Gentiles nor the Samaritans at all, and only go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (5-6). We may not know the reason for this exclusion, but there it is. Certainly the Gentiles would eventually have their season, but it was not at this time.
Much of the rest of this chapter is devoted to the idea that some people will accept the teachings of the apostles while others will not. The apostles are instructed to seek out those who are worthy, and to leave their peace with them. And to those who are not worthy, they let their peace return to them, and shake off the dust of their feet against those who does not receive them.
Jesus warns them against the wolves who will seek to persecute them. There will be some who will confess Christ, and those who will not, and those who deny Christ will be denied by Christ.
Jesus then declares that He did not come to send peace, but a sword (34). Man against father, daughter against mother, parents against children. He says that those who love even family members more than Jesus are not worthy of Jesus.
I do not think that I want to speculate much on how this might directly apply to recent controversies, but it does suggest that the gospel is not as unconditionally inclusive as many claim it is. Christ well knows that his teachings will cause division and controversy that will sometimes divide families and also bring persecution to those who preach this gospel. We should probably not expect different results than what Jesus predicted.
Published August 17, 2015
Jesus Christ , Tolerance
I have made a series of posts reviewing the book of Matthew to see if Christ taught a gospel that demanded that his followers must be tolerant of any and all behaviors (as some claim). So far, this effort has shown that this is not the case at all. See previous posts here.
Continue reading ‘Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Eating with Sinners (Matt. 9)’
As I continue my review of the gospel of Matthew and what is says, and does not say, about what Christianity demands regarding unconditional love and absolute tolerance, I come to the sermon on the mount. My motivation for this effort is claims that Christianity ought to be nearly a ‘anything goes’ religion regarding sinful behavior. As you might suspect, I consider the sermon on the mount to be something of a ‘home run’ in making my point that Christ did not teach a ‘anything goes’ type of gospel.
Continue reading ‘Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7)’