Intolerance can be a virtue

The Bible is in some ways a very intolerant book. 

The Apostle Paul didn’t pull any punches when it came to the truth about Jesus and the uniqueness of the gospel.  In the light of our very pluralistic society and the new, trendy “I am spiritual” attitude, we might consider his words in Galatians 1:7-9 exceptionally intolerant:

 

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 him be eternally condemned!

 

Yet by being intolerant of other “gospels”, Paul here is being decidedly loving. Sometimes you have to be intolerant to be loving.

 

Shark attack

Imagine a friend from a land-locked European country and comes to visit you for the summer holidays.  This friend considers himself quite progressive and liberal.  One of the things he doesn’t believe in is sharks.  For him, who has never seen a shark, sharks are the product of an over-worked imagination and legend.  Sharks should not be taken literally, is his motto.  (He even argues that “Sharks” were isimply nvented by the early scuba-divers to exercise control over potential divers and make money from safety videos.)  Its extremely hot so you both decide to go swimming at Fish Hoek beach.  While swimming the shark siren rings.  Would it be unloving and intolerant for you to say, “You are wrong!  I’m right!” and then drag your friend to the sand?  Yes, it would be very intolerant of his views, but at the same time very loving.

 

The biblical authors knew the gospel of Jesus to be true and therefore, out of love, pointed out the error of other “gospels” and “spiritualities”.  Knowing truth  and pointing out error is enormously loving.