There is a misconception about God that is prevalent in our culture. In less than orthodox mainline churches especially, this is not only a doctrine preached, it is an essential. In those places, this error is listed among the attributes of God. It is God’s Omni-tolerance.
The theology of mainline denominations, if you can call it that, is one of inclusiveness. By that I don’t mean that they have some idea of “anyone can come worship with us”. That’s not what they mean either. By inclusiveness I mean to accuse them of the heresy of believing that God condemns no one and all people are included in his love and mercy and will eventually be saved.
“I’m afraid that in the United States of America today the prevailing doctrine of justification is not justification by faith alone. It is not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in our culture today is justification by death. All one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.”
― R.C. Sproul, Saved from What?
They wouldn’t put it that way of course.
Unfortunately, this teaching has found its way into the mainstream. The unchurched and the skeptic alike have latched onto the idea that God loves everyone, no matter what. This has become an important doctrine of the culture.
All in all God’s omni-tolerance doesn’t sound so bad though. It even seems to fit well into what many Evangelicals believe about God. “God is good”, they say. “God is love”, they claim. “God loves everyone”, they cry. You might even hear some of them say, “God doesn’t hate anyone”.
“The failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God.”
― R.C. Sproul
This kind of imbalance when it comes to understanding God is dangerous though. If Evangelicals take their cue off mainstream mistakes about the character of God, they will be lead down a road to heresy. That road looks like the one we’re on right now. It’s a road that is leading otherwise Biblical churches into heresy and away from orthodoxy. It’s a road that is leading to a weak Church. It looks like this…
If God is merely good, we must answer the question, what is good?
We know what goodness is, at least to a degree. We can describe good things or good acts, but that is not a definition. When we look to define goodness, we are always lead back to the character of God. Goodness, real goodness, is rooted in God’s character. So to know goodness is to know what God is like. By that we can know real goodness.
But how do we know that?
The next attempt to define goodness in the character of God is usually to say that God is love.
“Scripture does not say that God is ‘love, love, love’ or that He is ‘mercy, mercy, mercy,’ but that He is ‘holy, holy, holy.’” — R.C. Sproul
Once again though, we are caught in a circular argument. To know what love is truly, we must already know something of God’s character. To say that God is love reveals something about love but it doesn’t reveal it fully. It does reveal our predicament though. What is goodness? Goodness is grounded in God’s character. How do we know what God’s character is like? God is love.
That begs the question again, doesn’t it? What is God’s love like?
This is where orthodoxy and neo-orthodoxy part ways.
Orthodoxy says that God’s love is revealed to us in the person of Jesus, his incarnation, and his atonement for our sins.
Neo-orthodoxy says that God’s love is revealed in his acceptance of all people no matter who they are.
Orthodoxy says that to experience the love of God a person must experience the forgiveness gained by Christ on the cross.
Neo-orthodoxy says that everyone experiences the love of God.
Orthodoxy says that all people are made in the image of God but all people are sinners and need to be made new by the blood of Christ and sanctified (set apart, made holy) by the work of the Spirit.
Neo-orthodoxy says that people are made in the image of God and are basically good.
Orthodoxy says that God’s character is dominated by his holiness and righteousness. God’s goodness and love are products of his righteousness and are perfect in his righteousness. Because he is not only good and loving but also holy and righteous, he will not and cannot tolerate sin.
Neo-orthodoxy says that God’s character is dominated by his love and this allows him to be omni-tolerant.
These are two different Gods.
One God is the God of the Bible. The other is a god fashioned by men.
The god of neo-orthodoxy is the god of our culture. He is the one who would never condemn a person for their sexual behavior. He would never judge a person who is made in his image. He is the god touted by the mainstream and mainline denominations. Their creed is one of capitulation. Their theology proper is a man made god. Their catechism looks like this…
Omni-tolerant God would never elect one person and not another.
Omni-tolerant God would never reveal himself to one Faith only.
Omni-tolerant God would never create beings with sinful orientations.
Omni-tolerant God would never send anyone to hell because they made some mistakes.
Omni-tolerant God loves everyone equally.
Omni-tolerant God is fair.
Omni-tolerant God cares about equality, he doesn’t discriminate (at all).
Omni-tolerant God sent Jesus to show his love, not to pay for our sin.
Omni-tolerant God says, “Judge not, lest thou be judged”, judgements will not be tolerated.
Omni-tolerant God is soooo tolerant. The culture loves God’s omni-tolerance. It’s a quality we can all live with. He’s so good. He loves me just the way I am. The only thing Omni-tolerant God won’t put up with is when we disagree with his omni-tolerance.
If there is anything clearly spoken in God’s Word it is this…
God is holy and we are not! God hates ALL sin and we are full of it!
God does not overlook sin. He does not wink at sin. He does not tolerate sin.
Sin defined is anything that is contrary to God’s character, his decree, his created order, and his purpose. Many sins are described specifically in the book that God gave us. Only one of those sins is homosexuality.
“Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”-RC Sproul
God does not tolerate homosexuality (or any sinful behavior). He despises it. He may, if he chooses, deliver people from that sin (or any sinful behavior) and forgive them through his grace and their faith and repentance, but he will not tolerate sinful behavior.
Many churches are capitulating to the demands of the culture and fashioning a god who is omni-tolerant. This is more than a slippery slope. It is heresy.
Orthodox churches need to call these omni-tolerant churches to repentance and a return to worship the true God, the holy God of the Bible.
The culture needs to realize that the rest of us will not capitulate and it needs to be redeemed for the Kingdom of Christ. It is the Church by its proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus that will redeem the culture, not the other way around.
Until then, more churches will fall into heresy, worshiping the omni-tolerant god that gains them acceptance with the masses. Until then, the culture will continue to slip into darkness. Until then, those of us who stand against the winds of change will not be tolerated.
Only the march of the Gospel preached in its fullness will turn the tide. The true Gospel that says God is holy. We are sinners. Jesus saves sinners.
God tolerates sinners, but only if they are covered by the blood of Jesus.