One Mediator

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:1–6, NIV)

To get along in the world we must exercise tolerance, that is, we must endeavor to coexist peaceably with persons who hold values and ideas that are different from ours. In this, I consider tolerance to be one of life's lubricants. When diverse people live in close proximity, they cannot wait until they agree on philosophy, religion and economics before they interact in daily life. Tolerance helps us to keep moving — and in that, it is good. But tolerance is not good when we raise it to the highest social value.

People who hold a postmodern worldview purport to tolerate each other's differences and to esteem each other's philosophies and religions as credible equals. The idea that different religions are merely different ways to get to the same place sounds so plausible… and it avoids confrontation. But what does a person do with a philosophy that insists that it cannot coexist as truth with any other system whose “truth” counters it? That, my friends, is biblical Christianity.

When approached about Jesus Christ, people say, yes — he was the great teacher! Yes — he loved people! Yes — he healed the sick! Yes — he fed the multitudes! But when a believer says that there is only “one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” the hearers balk. Now, they do not balk at Jesus per se... I mean… they sort of love Jesus… like they love Gandhi or Mother Teresa. They balk at our claims to the exclusiveness of his salvation, at the uniqueness of his atonement and at the mutual exclusivity of his way with any way that counters it. Such claims change the conversation to, “Those bible-believers are really small-minded. Who do they think they are anyway! Can you imagine… and especially in this day and age — that so many people could be so intolerant of other people’s beliefs?”

Well… let’s own that.

Tolerance, within its design limits, is a good practice. We should seek to live peaceably with every person on the globe. But we Christians are called to love — which is a higher practice than tolerance. Love upholds truth; love corrects wrongs. Love is, by definition, intolerant.

I repudiate the idea that Christians are out to destroy everyone else’s feelings or values — that’s not it at all. It’s an issue of logic: We love you… and love must be intolerant of all this is non-love. That’s the part that people mix up. They think that the tolerance of all behaviors is love… but it is not. That’s indulgence — and that’s not love at all.

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