There is a growing divide in the minds of many evangelical believers between their private faith and the exclusive claims made by historical biblical orthodoxy. This divide, however popular it might appear in terms of political correctness, is deadly to the future health and vibrant life of the church.
Orthodoxy was never intended merely to be a private matter – the faith once delivered to the apostles is an authoritative faith that shaped the beliefs and governed the practices of the collective body of Christ existing in local churches.
The writers of Truth Matters put it well in saying,
“Tolerance has become such a god in our culture that not to have it is heresy. The effect is that tolerance swallows up truth, negating any need to search for things that might offend or challenge our preferences. It conveniently avoids the notion that certain things might just apply to all of us, no matter who we are or what we might believe. It is a comfortable place to be, for it challenges nothing but truth, but it might also be a dangerous home to inhabit.”
Tolerance in some arenas of life is an essential component to healthy relationships. However, in other arenas of life, tolerance can actually be deadly to proper relationships – especially when clear biblical truth is sacrificed in the name of tolerance.
Either the truth claims made by biblical orthodoxy are true or they aren’t. In other words, those orthodox beliefs can’t be true and exist in harmony with competing truth claims in the name of tolerance.
A growing problem exists among many evangelical believers – the privatization of faith. For such believers, their orthodox beliefs actually appear to have moved out of the realm of absolute truth and into the realm of personal preference. No matter how strongly I adhere to a particular belief or truth claim, if I put it in the realm of personal preference I have made room for the validity of a competing belief or truth claim. Orthodoxy is different than personal preference in that its truth claims are binding on all who claim to be orthodox. This reality brings us to a choosing place – either we embrace genuine orthodoxy and its truth claims over all genuine believers or we embrace tolerance and relegate truth to the realm of personal preference or private belief. We can’t have both and retain true orthodoxy.
Sadly, believers in hopes of gaining a hearing in the public square for the Gospel have given away the very ground on which that Gospel stands. Tolerance is an illusive answer because by definition, tolerance is intolerant of exclusive, authoritative truth claims that are binding on all who claim to follow Christ and embrace the faith once delivered to the Apostles and recorded by them in the Scripture.
The Gospel springs out of and is based on an authoritative claim by Jesus – “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).
Gracious – yes! Beyond belief. Tolerant – no! Not even a tiny bit.
This orthodoxy is generous and gracious but it is not broad nor is it inclusive.
Nor is our faith to be private!
Personal – yes. It must be embraced at the individual level. Private – no! It is intended to shape the corporate belief of God’s body of believers.
So…orthodox truth matters. It matters to God. It matters to the church. It matters to you. It matters to the world. Eternal consequences hang in the balance.
So head out to the public square and make your faith an announcement of a gracious, bold, and exclusive orthodoxy that extends grace by demanding truth.