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Error Intolerant

A147

Error Intolerant

John MacArthur


Christians must not tolerate error...

As Christians we must understand that whatever opposes God’s Word or departs from it in any way is a danger to the very cause of truth. Passivity toward known error is not an option for the Christian. Staunch intolerance of error is built into the very fabric of Scripture. And tolerance of known error is anything but a virtue.

Jesus clearly and unashamedly affirmed the utter exclusivity of Christianity. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Obviously, that sort of exclusivity is fundamentally incompatible with post-modern tolerance.

Truth and error cannot be combined to yield something beneficial. Truth and error are as incompatible as light and darkness. “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

We can’t tell the world, “This is truth, but whatever you want to believe is fine, too. It’s not fine. Scripture commands us to be intolerant of any idea that denies the truth.

Lest anyone misunderstand, I’m not defending dogmatism on any and every theological issue. Some things in Scripture are not perfectly clear. But the central teachings of Scripture (in particular, those things related to the way of salvation) are so simple and so clear that even a child can understand.

Those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (Westminster Confession, 1:7).

All the truth that is necessary for our salvation can be easily understood in a true way by anyone who applies common sense and due diligence in seeking to understand what the Bible teaches. And that truth — the core message of Scripture — is incompatible with every other system of belief. We ought to be dogmatic about it.

No wonder post-modernism, which prides itself on being tolerant of every competing world-view, is nonetheless hostile to biblical Christianity. Even the most determined post-modernist recognizes that biblical Christianity by its very nature is totally incompatible with a position of uncritical broad-mindedness. If we accept the fact that Scripture is the objective, authoritative truth of God, we are bound to see that every other view is not equally or potentially valid.

There is no need to seek middle ground through dialogue with proponents of anti-Christian world-views, as if the truth could be refined by the dialectical method. It is folly to think truth given by divine revelation needs any refining or updating. Nor should we imagine that we can meet opposing world-views on some philosophically neutral ground. The ground between us is not neutral. If we really believe the Word of God is true, we know that everything opposing it is error. And we are to yield no ground whatsoever to error.