Monday, February 23, 2015

Tolerance/intolerance in perspective

[T]o say that we should be intolerant of Acts’ intolerance is simply to replace one scheme of life with another (tolerance, remember, always gets its meaning from the larger schemes in which it occurs). What then is the justification for this intolerance? Presumably it would be the truth of the scheme. But that of course is just the point at issue. Acts confronts its readers with a claim to a total scheme. To confront Acts with a counter-claim is not to be more “tolerant” (this is an illusion) but to be intolerant in a different way, and to claim (a) that Acts is wrong, and (b) that the different scheme is right (the possibility that neither one is right is but a subset of (b)—you are right that Acts is not right, even if you are wrong about your own alternative). So it seems that we are left with the decision that Acts wants to enjoin us to make.—World Upside Down, page 264 n. 91

<idle musing>
Food for thought, isn't it? The book of Acts is trying to get us to decide whom we will serve. It's either Jesus Christ as God or Caesar and Rome as god. No alternatives. One or the other. And we are still being called. Either Christ as God or our culture as god. One or the other. You can't have both.

What a great way to end a leaves you thinking and considering the ramifications. I hope you enjoyed the excerpts from it and will consider reading it.

By the way, I ran across a good post late last week about the kind of missionary the world needs. Here's an extended quotation:

Christianity in so many parts of America has been blended together with American, nationalistic culture to the point that the Jesus many believe they are following is just a false American caricature of the real thing. In many ways, the tradition of Jesus has become a civil religion that is able to exist in complete harmony with American ideals instead of being something that was designed to turn culture on its head– showing those within culture a totally different way of living and being.

This week my heart feels particularly broken for this obviously unreached people group. Case in point: I issued a call to love our Muslim neighbors in our communities– loving neighbors being what Jesus called the second greatest commandment– and it was met with outright hostility, and even calls for acts of violence against Muslims. One Christian minister said that telling people to love their Muslim neighbors was a “slap in the face” and that we should do no such thing. Others said it is impossible to exist with Muslim neighbors. And, even some “Christians” said that the only approach to Muslims is to kill them before they kill us.

Or, there’s the response I get when I suggest that we should actually love our enemies (a core aspect of the message and life of Jesus): outright disgust, and immediately objections that surely, Jesus didn’t really mean that. Better yet, there’s the times when I suggest that Jesus invites us to give our loyalty to God’s Kingdom instead of earthly nations, and the Christian response is quite predictable. “Go somewhere else” I’m often told, or as one internet commenter said recently, I’d do better to just “shut my mouth and pay homage to our soldiers.”

Day in and day out, I am faced with the heartbreaking reality that perhaps the last unreached people group has been sitting right in our very pews– those who have succumbed to an Americanized, civil religion, that is only loosely based on Jesus.

Heartbreaking, isn't it? We've elevated culture above the words of Christ...Lord, forgive us!
</idle musing>

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