The Cross of Christ: The Symbol of a Tolerant God (my response to The Gospel Coalition)

Are Christians called to be intolerant of other viewpoints and lifestyles? Is God himself an intolerant God?

The Gospel Coalition says yes, on both counts.

Last week, the Gospel Coalition encouraged readers to reject the concept of being “tolerant” of others opting instead for the emulation of God’s supposed “intolerance”. The piece, which you can read in full here, claims in part:

“On the surface it (tolerance) seems to be a positive virtue, one that exemplifies the life of the Christian. But have you ever considered that tolerance is never encouraged in the Bible? The fruit of the Spirit includes love and kindness, but missing from the list is tolerance. In fact, Christians aren’t called to tolerance, because we serve an intolerant God.”

The piece goes on to list various Old Testament “examples” to demonstrate God’s intolerance, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, the Flood, and other violent stories which are notoriously misunderstood in relation to God’s character. The writer culminates with the example of the cross, citing the cross as the central example that God is, in fact, an intolerant God:

“Take a fresh look at the terrifying and uncomfortable reality of the cross. Here is an innocent man—whipped, beaten, nailed to a tree, bearing the sins of the world. For you. For me. Is this the picture of a tolerant God who ignores evil? No, this is a gruesome picture of divine wrath and judgment. The story makes no sense if God is a tolerant God.”

This post, and all posts like it, pains me to my core. There are a lot of things we need in this world, but the one thing we don’t need is new and improved portraits of an angry, violent, intolerant God. I’ve never fully grasped why folks like the Gospel Coalition are addicted to a portrait of God that paints him to look more like a drunken, angry x-boyfriend than who he really is.

Ironically, the cross isn’t about God’s intolerance, but his extreme tolerance. It’s not about his wrath; it’s about ours.

The dual nature of Christ meant that he was fully human and fully divine. Being fully human, he owed God a perfect life– however, living a perfect life also meant that Jesus was not under the curse of death– he didn’t owe God his death. The fact that he owed no death, but died anyway, is what reversed the curse of Adam that started way back at the beginning.

It didn’t have to be a crucifixion. The death itself, did not need to be an extremely violent, gruesome death.

We did that part.

In God’s loving tolerance, he allowed us to make choices that took creation in a direction that was way, way wrong. In God’s loving tolerance, he didn’t make humanity pay the price for those choices– instead, he came in human flesh to show us a better way to live– the only way to live, if we actually want to experience “life” as it can be, both now and later.

Yet, in our own intolerance we weren’t able to tolerate the presence of God-with-us. Instead of tolerating a counter-cultural teacher and actually embracing him, and his teachings, for everything they were (and are), we brutally murdered him in perhaps the most horrid way we’ve ever carried out executions. 2,000 years later, we still love to crucify those who preach the radical message of “blessed are the poor” and “put away your swords”.

When we encounter the cross we see that we were the ones who behaved intolerantly– not God. When we look at the bloody Jesus on the cross, we see not a wrath that God inflicts, but the wrath that we too often carry out against others.

The cross was not about God’s intolerance; God had been tolerant all along. So tolerant, in fact, that he watched from heaven as we beat, whipped, spat upon, and crucified his son. It doesn’t get more tolerant than that.

Ironically, in contrast to the take of the Gospel Coalition, the cross of Christ is the ultimate testimony that God is an incredibly loving, patient, and tolerant God.

So tolerant, that he allowed us to go our own way and damage humanity’s relationship with him, our relationship to others, and our relationship to creation. So tolerant, that instead of standing against us, he sent generations of prophets to invite us into a better way of living by doing justice and loving mercy.

So tolerant, that he himself took on flesh and pitched his tent among us– declaring that he didn’t come to judge or condemn us, but to save us.

So tolerant, that even after we stripped him naked, tore the flesh from his bones, and nailed him to a tree, he said:

“Forgive them.”

Be not confused: the cross of Christ bears witness to a tolerant God. It bears witness to a tolerant God who puts up with our nonsense, who loves us enough to invite us into a better way of living, and even allows you (and me) to kill him in the process.

The cross of Christ is a dual picture of love and wrath, but not in the way we’ve been taught– it’s a picture of God’s unfailing tolerance and love being met with the wrath of our own selves.

 

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  • Eastern Mind

    Love it. It sounds like they are into Anselm’s penal substitution theology, which states that God the Father needed to punish and that punishing Christ placated his wrath. A very distorted view of what the cross is.

  • https://ryanrobinson.ca/ Ryan Robinson

    It may be being picky, but it is sometimes valuable in a discussion like this to distinguish Anselm’s satisfaction theory from Calvin’s penal substitution. They’re a very similar framework and it is clear that Calvin was inspired by Anselm, but Anselm still framed his theory as the violence being a regrettable necessity for God to restore honour while Calvin was quite ok with God being the intolerant ass-kicking God described here. Anselm’s God was ok with violence when necessary; Calvin’s God had violent retribution as a core requirement of his character. TGC definitely supports the latter. (I personally don’t support either, but Anselm’s I do think is less problematic)

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Dead on, Ryan. Great contribution, thank you.

  • Eastern Mind

    Ah good point, I often get the two mixed up.

  • R Vogel

    “The death itself, did not need to be an extremely violent, gruesome death.

    We did that part.”

    Beautifully put. Not sure I have ever seen it stated quite like that before.

  • drspainhour

    “It didn’t have to be a crucifixion. The death itself, did not need to be an extremely violent, gruesome death.”

    The fact that he did die an extremely violent, gruesome death sure makes the suggestion that he didn’t have to an odd one, or a moot one. I suppose Jesus, facing the prospect, would have liked to know this when he asked to be spared of it (Mt. 26:39–“Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass”), or for that matter, before he started telling his followers to take up a cross of their own.

    Paul, for that matter, upon his reflection of the significance of the cross, would have done well to read your blog before concluding: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3).

    I’m not a big fan of the smug emphasis from the Gospel Coalition folks, who ironically see judgment as most sharply defined as what will happen to the non-elect, rather than what happened on the cross. But to say that God is ‘tolerant’ truly is unbiblical, in any sense that word can be taken.

  • David Siders

    well put

  • PAULA K. SCHMIDT

    Maybe I’m confused but I equate love with tolerance. I will continue to err on the side of love, even though that means my “Xtian” friends un-friend me on Facebook and in general call me confused. I will err on the side of Love.

  • Kennyd23

    You should be more worried about those who are intolerant with the Cross they are the truly lost. Gods Grace cannot be received until it is accepted.

  • R Vogel

    Pretty weak grace, eh?

  • Kennyd23

    How do you figure God’s grace is weak because he requires us to choose.
    Faith and religion are not synonymous.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ the Old Adam

    God surely forgives sin. He told the woman caught in adultery to “go your way…and sin no more.”

    God’s law will not be mocked. The wages of sin is death. And we will all pay the price. But because Jesus has taken upon Himself, our sins, we will not pay the eternal price…only the earthly price.

    Don;’t think that any amount of iniquity in this world will go unpunished. It will be.

  • Short Little Rebel

    I agree. see my responses above. This article LIES. And because of it, people will taste death- and the author of this piece will be held to account for their death. Just check out Ezekiel 3.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Along with people who practice capitalism? Because Ezekiel says they should be put to death too.

  • Short Little Rebel

    So. Your message is to sit and SMILE when people blatantly mock God’s name, disobey him regularly and even worship pagan gods? Nonsense. You are using ‘tolerant’ to mean
    ‘patient and loving’ and then comparing it to the American version of
    ‘tolerant’ which means the acceptance of homosexuality, gay marriage, Islam and pagan
    worship. Sneaky and effective for your audience no doubt- especially for those who are doing these very things and are hoping to get a free pass from God. You are either a political liberal or you are engaging in homosexuality yourself. Your little COEXIST image would say so.

    You are using an emotional, imbalanced argument to excuse homosexuality, Muslim terrorism and pagan worship. God IS merciful. God IS patience. But God is NOT ‘tolerant’ in the sense you would like it to mean. No. Quite the opposite. He keeps tab of EVERY sin you commit. Is THAT ‘tolerant’? If you don’t REPENT and accept Christ (and ONLY Christ) as your personal Lord and Savior, then you WILL go to hell. Is THAT ‘tolerant’? God CAN be violent and God CAN lose patience- why tell people lies? Please note the
    destruction of Judah and Israel- were those from a TOLERANT God? People
    ate their own children as they starved to death! And God, the Almighty, did this to them! Is
    THAT tolerant? No, no, no and no! King Solomon (much wiser than YOU) said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” -Proverbs 9:10

    Jesus himself told us EXACTLY what marriage is in the eyes of God: ”

    4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” BECAUSE God made the male and female- not because of social norms back then.

    If you continue in your homosexual behavior, then you can NOT claim to love Christ because Christ told us In John 14:

    “23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone
    who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear
    are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

    GOD said this to Jesus and he said it to us. Thus, repetitive, willful disobedience (which is homosexual sex) PROVES you have not repented and thus are not saved. And you are going to hell. To tell people otherwise is to lure them into a false sense of security which will lead to their death- and their death will be on YOUR head when you see God.

    Therefore, your coexist symbol, which includes homosexuality, Islam, and pagan worship, makes no sense at all!

    If he could ‘tolerate’ sin, then Jesus would not have needed to come to earth at all. It is because he can’t tolerate sin that Christ NEEDED to come to die for us. God’s righteousness demands the end to sin- completely. If we did not have Christ, we would all DIE, and we would ALL deserve it, and go to hell. How ‘tolerant’ is that?

    Your mamsy pamsy approach here is only telling ONE side of God to people. Mostly because you want to either avoid confrontation yourself (which is a complete betrayal of Jesus’ words about HOW to display our love to one another: ie, to DIE for our fellow man) or you actually want to say that churches and the Body of Christ should accept and include sexual immorality- yet, this is expressly against what Apostle Paul had to say about how a church deals with this type of repetitious sinful lifestyle. In the end, he tells us to reject them from our church.

    We are to LOVE one another. God LOVES us. All true. But there comes a moment of action- both from God and from us. When a person refuses to listen to reason, it becomes time to knock the dust from our sandals, determine that they are the dogs and pigs of whom Jesus spoke and move on. A few more notes on the REAL God:

    Psalm 5:5, “The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity,”

    Psalm 11:5, “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”

    Lev. 20:23,
    “Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I
    shall drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.”

    Prov. 6:16-19, “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”

    Hosea 9:15, “All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there!
    Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My
    house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels.”

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Who the hell said anything about homosexuality? That wasn’t even a topic covered by this piece.

    God is love, but God keeps track of “EVERY” sin we commit? Strange, because I thought the Bible said he is “no longer counting our sins against us” and that “love keeps no record of wrong doing”.

    Let’s switch to the second most discussed sin in the Bible: greed (the reason why God judged Sodom and Gomorrah). Will you tell me how much money you make every year and what your charitable receipts were on your tax returns for 2012? Will you explain why you celebrated the shut down of government which put millions of the poor and disabled at risk of going hungry?

    Those are the sins talked about the most in scripture, so let’s talk about that and test your level of righteousness. There is a button here that allows you to upload images, so please upload your most recent tax return and we can continue the discussion on sin.

  • Short Little Rebel

    Benjamin, you actually consider that a rational test? Who the heck would upload their tax return online? That is just… a little stupid. Now, the reason I brought up homosexuality is for several reasons. While it didn’t overtly mention homosexuality, it uses a COEXIST image with the homosexual symbol on it. And since you were advocating the COEXIST image, I must make the assumption you actually knew what it meant. So, I give you that much credit. You posted it as what God is all about- TOLERANCE, and thus, a good thing. Therefore, it is completely logical to assume that you support the gay agenda. Thus my response stands. As for my test of righteousness, I have dedicated my ENTIRE life to Christ. I blog daily attesting to his scripture and to how it fits into American and world culture and politics. All with the summary goal of leading people to Christ and everlasting life. So, I don’t think I really need to give you a TAX return to prove it. Second, I work with my church for countless hours of community service. So, does that count, mister? I DO celebrate the shutdown. Like all liberals, you want to use the emotional argument. While some may be hurting- it is only temporary and our communities would pitch in to help those who really needed it. (guess what? My HUSBAND, our only income source, also works for the federal government. And HE was facing everything the other fed employees were. So, I guess I can put my money where my mouth is.) Further, my intent is to force the states to take up their rightful role of helping its own poor. Furthermore, I don’t believe it is the GOVERNMENT who should take care of the poor- it is the CHURCH’S responsibility. No one would STARVE as you liberals love to say it. This country is FULL of food banks and free meals around every corner. How do I know? BECAUSE I WORK AT THEM. The American People give more money out of their own pockets for charity than all the other countries combined. That is CHRISTIAN money. My point is this: let the power of the feds be broken and brought back to the states. Let the states have almost ALL the tax money. I would LOVE to see the incredible waste of paying ALL those federal employees that stand between my money and poor people. In this process, the misery (which would directly affect my family) would only be temporary and FAR LESS than we WILL be hurting now that Obama has gotten a limitless amount to spend. AND he will also get the Syrian war, which if you knew anything at all about the politics in the region, has NO OPTION other than another world war. And yet, you liberals sit here and support this man. IF you are a Christian, you would know that going into Syria will begin a major war against Israel almost immediately. God promises to take vengeance on countries that attempt to crush Israel. And yet, there you are- only concerned with TOLERANCE of sin. Shouldn’t you concern as a Christian be just a little more focused on what is now exploding before our very eyes?

    As to your out of context verses- the first references God talking to his people ONCE THEY HAVE REPENTED- not while they were in the midst of intentional sin. The second references how WE should love one another in the Christian Body. But it most certainly doesn’t mean we don’t tell our brother when he is going to DIE for his sin. “17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.”- Ezekiel 3

    Your response doesn’t bother to address the scriptural PROOF in my first comment. Because you can’t. Therefore, you need to get personal about ME. But I am not the false teacher you are. Please note that the so-called atheist LOVED your post and hated mine. God warned us that if the world loves us, it is BECAUSE we are of the world. And he also tells us that IF we are of the world, we are NOT of Christ. IF you were teaching the TRUTH of God, you WOULD be hated by the world. Yet your teachings make God mockers like the Irish Atheist above love you. I’m GLAD he hates me for Christ said, “18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If 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.” There. you. go. I may sound harsh- but I am only the messenger. The BIBLE is what I use for my reference. How about you? Your article here was written without a single reference to scripture. Just your personal opinion. What you said was not true. It was dangerous to those who are in need of Christ. Don’t lie to make God more palatable. Tell the full truth. People need the REAL God- the one described in the bible. YES, he loves us. But he is not tolerant of sin whatsoever. And yes, he knows EVERY sin – and if you read your bible, you will see that God will hold you account for every word out of your mouth UNLESS you are covered by Christ’s blood. ONLY that will save you. Only THEN will your sins be forgotten.

    So let me ask you a DIRECT question: do you or don’t you support gay marriage? Do you say that homosexuality is NOT a sin? Or tell me, IS homosexuality a sin in God’s eyes? Can a person who intentionally and repetitiously disobey God (which is the very heart of those who choose homosexuality as a lifestyle) and still claim to love him? Can he be said to have REPENTED? Let us see YOUR test of righteousness in a direct answer for all your friends to see. It easy. Just answer plainly. I’m sure your atheist friends are awaiting your PURE, CLEAR answer. Susan

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

    But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

    A man I once read about told that little ditty, but I doubt you’ve heard of him.

    Oh, and I oppose Mr. Corey as strongly as I oppose you, as strongly as I oppose the Christians back in Ireland. You may think you speak for your god but you DO NOT speak for me.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I love you, Susan.

  • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

    Sojourner Truth said this, when she saw several hundred black women who were pushing forward to pick up clothing in the basement of Calvary Baptist Church, which the National Freedmen’s Relief Association of New York used for clothing distribution, “You have your liberty, but what’s your liberty without regulation; by your thoughtless eagerness you hinder your friends relieving you as quickly as they would.”

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Typical Christanist. You disagree with someone, so they’re gay. It’d be funny if it weren’t so viley repulsive.

    Oh, and do you know why the United States ‘tolerates’ Islam and pagan worship? Because of the First Amendment. So apparently you’re an anti-American Christianist as well.

    Keep fighting the good fight of atheism. You’re doing more for us than you could ever know.

  • Short Little Rebel

    So-called atheist, you mean. Listen, you people have heard all the lovey dovey stuff about God. BECAUSE you have never been told the truth about the REAL God, so many in this country have become completely apathetic and frankly, bored, with the American Jesus. The reality is the bible. And the bible speaks the truth. What you are doing is a grave sin, which God will indeed punish with a hardened heart so that you can not turn around and be saved. And he will give you over to a depraved mind so that you will do things you should not (including homosexuality). They aren’t my words, they are God’s.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    I’ve only heard the lovey dovey stuff about your god? If that were true, I wouldn’t be an atheist. Instead, I grew up in a country where your fellow Christians slaughtered my people by the thousands. My aunt and uncle were dragged out of their car and shot to death by Christian terrorists. I saw a car bomb go off when I was ten. I grew up on the wrong side of the walls of Jericho, I have seen exactly what Christians are capable of when they follow the vengeful deity you so gleefully proclaim, and it is because your brothers and your sisters and your god filled the streets of my homeland with blood and empty beds that I am so opposed to your violent rhetoric.

    That is why I fight so hard for equality and peace, including LGBT rights. Not because I’m gay, but because I know what it’s like to be the Christian target. I saw what your tribe did to the country of my birth and I will fight to my last breath to keep it from happening in the home of my adoption.

  • R Vogel

    “So-Called Atheist” – So Ben is not a Christian and you are not an atheist. Now I’m just confused.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    I’m assuming that neither of these comments were meant to be directed at me.

  • R Vogel

    Oops, slip of the mouse.

  • R Vogel

    So if you willfully sin G*d will punish you by hardening your heart so you can’t repent and be saved.

    He sound delightful and successful.

  • Laura Mae Shattuck

    Wow! I know I keep saying Wow but I seem to be at a loss for words to convey how powerfully that post speaks to me. I wished I would have heard this truth all my life instead of some of the lies that made me so afraid of God. Please keep writing Ben… The world really needs this message.

  • Short Little Rebel

    Laura, don’t believe this article. This guy didn’t use scripture. Fearing God is the very beginning of wisdom. King Solomon wrote that and he was the wisest man who ever lived. God is not tolerant of sin. If he was tolerant of it, why was the blood of Christ needed to cover our sins? Why bother if God could or would tolerate our sin? This is a false teacher. Fearing the Lord is the beginning. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love as well. You need both fear and love in your relationship with God. If God were NOT fearful and if we were NOT to fear, then consider why these verses are throughout the bible:

    Deut. 6:13 “Thou shalt fear the LORD
    thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by
    his name.”

    Deut. 6:24 “And the LORD commanded us
    to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD
    our God, for our good always, that he might
    preserve us alive, as it is at this day.”

    Deut. 8:6 “Therefore thou shalt keep
    the commandments of the LORD thy God, to
    walk in his ways, and to fear him.”

    Psa. 2:11 “Serve the LORD with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.”

    Prov. 23:17 “Let not thine heart envy
    sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD
    all the day long.”

    Isaiah 8:13 “Sanctify the LORD of
    hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and
    let him be your dread.”

    Josh. 24:14 “Now therefore fear the
    LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in
    truth: and put away the gods which your
    fathers served on the other side of the
    flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.”

    Eph. 5:21 “Submitting yourselves one
    to another in the fear of God.”

    Col. 3:22 “Servants, obey in all
    things your masters according to the flesh;
    not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in
    singleness of heart, fearing God;”

    If you do not fear God, you are probably
    forsaking God. see here:

    Jer. 2:19 “Thine own wickedness shall
    correct thee, and thy backslidings shall
    reprove thee: know therefore and see that it
    is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast
    forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my
    fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD
    of hosts.”

    Prov. 1:28-29 “Then shall they call
    upon me, but I will not answer; they shall
    seek me early, but they shall not find me:
    For that they hated knowledge, and did
    not choose the fear of the LORD:”

    Prov. 14:2 “He that walketh in his
    uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is
    perverse in his ways despiseth him.”

    Rom. 3:10-18 “As it is written, There
    is none righteous, no, not one: There is
    none that understandeth, there is none that
    seeketh after God. They are all gone out of
    the way, they are together become
    unprofitable; there is none that doeth good,
    no, not one. Their throat is an open
    sepulchre; with their tongues they have used
    deceit; the poison of asps is under their
    lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and
    bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed
    blood: Destruction and misery are in their
    ways: And the way of peace have they not
    known: There is no fear of God before
    their eyes.”

    There are many benefits to fearing God. See here:

    Psa. 128:1 “Blessed is every one that
    feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.”

    Psa. 25:14 “The secret of the LORD is
    with them that fear him; and he will shew
    them his covenant.”

    Psa. 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the
    LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them
    that hope in his mercy;”

    Psa. 34:7 “The angel of the LORD
    encampeth round about them that fear him,
    and delivereth them.”

    Psa. 34:9 “O fear the LORD, ye his
    saints: for there is no want to them that
    fear him.”

    Psa. 103:13 “Like as a father pitieth
    his children, so the LORD pitieth them that
    fear him.”

    Psa. 115:11 “Ye that fear the LORD,
    trust in the LORD: he is their help and
    their shield.”

    Psa. 115:13 “He will bless them that
    fear the LORD, both small and great.”

    Psa. 128:4 “Behold, that thus shall
    the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.”

    Psa. 147:11 “The LORD taketh pleasure
    in them that fear him, in those that hope in
    his mercy.”

    Prov. 10:27 “The fear of the LORD
    prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked
    shall be shortened.”

    Prov. 15:16 “Better is little with
    the fear of the LORD than great treasure and
    trouble therewith.”

    Prov. 19:23 “The fear of the LORD
    tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall
    abide satisfied; he shall not be visited
    with evil.”

    Prov. 31:30 “Favour is deceitful, and
    beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the
    LORD, she shall be praised.”

    Fear is the beginning of wisdom. Without it
    you cannot get saved, and without it you’ll
    never be able to stop falling into sin. See here:

    Prov. 2:5 “Then shalt thou understand
    the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge
    of God.”

    Prov. 14:27 “The fear of the LORD is
    a fountain of life, to depart from the
    snares of death.”

    Psa. 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is
    the beginning of wisdom: a good
    understanding have all they that do his
    commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”

    (also see Prov. 1:7, 9:10, 15:33)

    Prov. 3:7 “Be not wise in thine own
    eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”

    Prov. 16:6 “By mercy and truth
    iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the
    LORD men depart from evil.”

  • Dustin Hensley

    Very thorough. If we aren’t using God’s Word to understand God’s will, we will never know His Truth.

  • Dustin Hensley

    I’d like to state that this is the only comment by Susan that I agree with, because, as you can see, she’s only quoting Scripture (even if it is in an outdated language! lol)

    ESV all the way!! Whoot woot!

  • Dustin Hensley

    I guess you could say I’m a fundamentalist. I’m not here to troll your blog (which is well written, by the way) but to ask for guidance and insight.

    As I read your post, I see a lot of conjecture. “It didn’t need to be a crucifixion.” Why is that? Where do you see that evidenced in Scripture? I see the opposite: a serpent (the symbolism for sin) raised up before the Israelites heals them before they die; Isaiah foretells the death of the Son of Man, lifted up; David writes in Psalm 22 that the Messiah would be mocked and spit upon, beaten horrifically, clothes torn and lots cast for them.

    I see your point, though. God does put up with a lot of crap from the human race. But unfortunately I would argue that your article is more about semantics: I would call that His patience, not his tolerance. Because God is holy He cannot tolerate sin. That is the reason man was banished from Eden. His patience and love for the people He created compelled Him to find a way for us to continue, to live outside of His perfect communion with us, and ultimately to send His Son to redeem us from our unrighteousness.

    Do you disagree?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Thanks, Dustin. I don’t think respectfully disagreeing makes you a fundamentalist!

    You have a good point that it could be semantics– could you call tolerance patience? I don’t see why not in many contexts.

    I agree that the OT predicts the crucifixion– absolutely. But I don’t see anything in the OT that required that it had to be a crucifixion. If Christ had come in the 19th century, when crucifixion was out of vogue, would he still be able to die for humanity? It was the death that saved us, not the manner of death. We must be careful not to elevate the manner of death and thereby let ourselves off the hook for what we did.

    Is God tolerant of sin? It appears so, as I look at the whole of human history. However, he also judges sin, and deals with sin, and eventually will eradicate sin.

    I doubt that we disagree on the fundamentals; I affirm the whole of orthodox Christianity. I think it’s probably semantics and communication style (this blog is intended to provoke people into thinking and wrestling with issues).

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  • Kennyd23

    God hates sin because it hurts us and he loves us.
    The gate may be narrow but we each get our own one so there is no waiting in line. Unbelief is the only sin that God cannot tolerate.

  • cipher

    Because God is holy He cannot tolerate sin.

    This may the single most oft-repeated Christian mantra. Apparently, sin is God’s kryptonite.

  • http://enria.org/ Steve Roberts

    Great article indeed…

  • Kennyd23

    It had to be a cross because that is what is what He Chose.

  • David Siders

    I see exactly the opposite conclusion. Do you not think God knew all along what Christ would suffer? The suffering on the cross is a lesson in how intolerant God is of sin.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Of course God knew we’d do that to him– but he came anyway. That’s a crazy level of tolerance. The fact that he reconciled us instead of smiting us, is amazing tolerance and self control.

  • http://benbowmanspeaks.com Benjamin Bowman

    John 3:36 (NIV) “Whoever puts his faith in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see that life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

    I also think “tolerance” has become a rather passive word. God did not tolerate sin, which is why He sent Jesus in the first place. Allowance isn’t the same as tolerance.