Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

I Keep Hearing this Word Tolerance . . .

And in the same context as Agape Love!

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 10 February 2009

Indeed. . . true Love never fails.
But does it tolerate?

Love needs to be based on character, if you know and love God you see He has a lot of character we are in love with. The best thing we can do . . . is to grow in character as listed in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s a love of choice. We choose to love God, He chooses to love us. Love of choice is the most powerful love, God calls that agape love, it’s a love that lasts, we should never settle for anything else between us and God and others. It’s a love that grows. Keep fervent in your love, allow it to stretch and strain as you watch it grow.
~ Wayne Corderio

In I Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul uses the word agape to describe the highest level of love in this world. While it is the kind of love that God expects every true believer to demonstrate in his or her life, the word agape itself describes a love so completely different from what the world offers that it is used in the New Testament only to describe God's love and the love that should flow from the hearts of believers.

In each expression of agape love, we find NO suggestion, reference or insinuation to Tolerance. Rather, we find that agape love underpins and strengthens every other attribute of God, including wrath, mercy, jealousy, anger and righteousness.

But let's back-up to the very beginning of the Chapter . . .

Paul had encountered a group of people in the city of Corinth who were "super spiritual." And Paul was quite unimpressed with them because of their obvious lack of love. Their deficit clearly bothered him and he alludes to this when he writes I Corinthians 13:1:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."

The words "sounding brass" are very important. The word comes from the Greek chalkos which refers to metal. But is wasn't just any metal. It was bronze or copper to which a small amount of tin had been added. This tin caused the metal to have a hollow, empty sound when it was beaten. That is why Paul also used the word "sounding."

So when Paul wrote about a "sounding brass," he was borrowing from the pagan world of Corinth to make his point about super-spiritual people who demonstrated no real love. They were hollow and empty.

Do you think a comparison could be made between the Corinthians of Paul's day and the "super-spiritual" Christians of 2009 who have adopted the Gospel of Tolerance (in the name of Agape Love), so as to appear god-like and loving and accepting while neither understanding or practicing true Love?

Do you think the First Century Corinthians became "tolerant" of the culture (and thereby accepting of it) because they feared the reputation of being intolerant?

Is it possible that these First Century Corinthians were the forerunners of the "emerging church," the "post-evangelicals," the "postmodernists," the attempt to replot New Testament Christianity into a pluralistic and secular world?
Just wondering. . .
Indeed. . . true Love never fails.
But does it tolerate?

. . . if you know and love God, you see He has a lot of character.

It is, however, a dangerous thing to emphasize one attribute of God at the expense of His Full Character. Love is but one of many attributes . To place Love at the top as a supreme or preeminent quality is not Scriptural.

Yes. We can rely upon, emphasize, and live by the words of 1 John 4:16, "God is love," but in doing so, we forget that:

God is also Truth (I John 1:6,8;2;21).
God is also Righteousness (I John 1:9; 2:1, 29; 3:7).
God is also Eternal Life (I John 1:2; 2:17, 25).
God is also Hope (I John 3:3).
God is also Purity (I John 1:7, 9; 3:3).
God is also Confidence (I John 2:28; 3:21; 4:17).
God is also Wrathful (Exodus 32:9-10; Deut. 9:7-8; John 3:36).
God is also Righteous and Just (Deut. 32:4; Isa. 45:19).
God is also Jealous (Exodus 20:5-6; 34:14)

The Apostle John is a desperately needed voice of Truth in today's pluralistic and tolerant culture. His writing is bold. It is very direct. It is very dogmatic. I don't believe there is another New Testament writer that is as authoritative in his writing. John is committed to absolutes. Committed to black and white. I like him. I like him very much.

John does indeed write that God is a God of Love
-- that God loved His Son -- that God loved the disciples -- that God loved the world -- that God is loved by Christ -- that Christ loved the disciples -- and that Christ taught that we should love one another -- and, finally -- that love is the fulfilling of the whole law.

Indeed. . . true Love never fails.
But does it tolerate?

John never slid into sentimentality. John never slid into tolerance masquerading as love. John never tolerated deception. He never tolerated lies. He was always committed to truth. He never tolerated sin of any kind. And in his second epistle (II John), he calls for complete separation from all those people who aren't faithful to the truth. His third epistle says essentially the same thing.

To live the Christian life refusing to acknowledge each and every attribute of God is to invalidate His Divine nature as GOD. To deny the "black and white'ness" of the Gospel is as incompatible in the Christian as it is in God!

To accept that God is loving is one thing. To deny that God is also a God of wrath and anger and vengeance because these qualities just don't match-up with his loving kindness (in our human thinking) is quite another.

No where is Tolerance equated with Love in John's writings. Nor anywhere in the New Testament for that matter!

Yet a great number of Christians have made Tolerance synonymous with Love! A great number of Christians refuse to believe God's Word if/when it contradicts their own rigid belief system. A system rooted in a false understanding of God's Love.
Indeed. . . true Love never fails.
But does it tolerate?

We choose to love God, He chooses to love us. Love of choice is the most powerful love. . .

Absolutely! But regrettably, there is this growing phenomena in today's churches. It's called Tolerance. It masquerades as Love. It is a choice, but the only "power" it hold, is the power to keep church members from knowing and experiencing God's True, Powerful, and Unconditional Love!

It is the fashion in churches today to tolerate just about anything in the name of Christian love lest we “Christians” gain a reputation of being intolerant. And in doing this we have totally sacrificed the spiritual health and maturity of the Church for years to come.

Q: What kind of things do we tolerate?
I think most of my readers can answer that. . .

. . . But I personally believe that most evangelical churches in America have become completely useless when it comes to sharing the True Message of Salvation and the True Meaning of Agape Love because they have chosen to practice Tolerance.
Indeed. . . true Love never fails.
But does it tolerate?

. . . agape love, it’s a love that lasts, we should never settle for anything else between us and God and others.

And over the next few posts, I want to address the Apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 13:4-8, where he speaks of love because they are powerful, powerful words. Paul lists fifteen points about the love of God and how it behaves. By peering into these verses, we can determine if our lives are indeed a reflection of this highest level of love.

Please come back!

Indeed. . . true Love never fails.
But does it tolerate?

~Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

This installment of InOtherWords is hosted by Karen on her blog In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus.


Denise said...

Powerful my friend, and so true.

Barbara said...

I appreciate SO MUCH your boldness to tell us the truth. You are right. Most churches are completely useless when it comes to sharing the message of Salvation because the presentation of sin might offend someone. To answer your Q: NO. Love does not tolerate.
Great post, friend.

Ben said...

AMEN! Amen. And amen.
Great discernment.
I like the new title of the blog!
Preach on, friend.

MiPa said...

Well spoken. Bless you.

Kate said...

Wait. A. Minute.
Sean Hannity follows your blog?!!
Wow! Is that really him? I am impressed.
The "cup overfloweth" award is certainly well deserved. So much power and truth here. I must go back and re-read this.
The tolerance in churches today makes us just like the world. It is sad. If it weren't for the Bibles in the pew, you wouldn't know you were in church!
Good writing. Thanks.

Laurie Ann said...

Thank you, Esthermay, for being as bold as John in your writing. We all need to be more concerned about who God is and what His Word says rather than tolerating. I'm a very black & white person myself, so I loved that there were no shades of gray in this post! You are a true disciple of Christ, and God has surely spoken through this post directly to my heart.

Rachel said...


I always look to the story of Jesus and the woman condemned for adultery. He NEVER excused her sin. He forgave her - the demonstration of love - and told her to leave her life of sin once she had been pardoned. There was no tolerance for the sinful lifestyle, but an abundance of love for a woman in need.

We don't need to be so fearful of being called intolerant. I heard one of my favorite preachers say one time, "It's not being judgmental if you're only telling them what the Judge already said!"


Karen said...

That was great. I love how you laid it out. I'm going to have to come back and read it again to absorb it all. Thanks.

Mark E. Goossen said...

In our days of Laodicia compromise where the methods of the world take precedent over the sufficiency of the Scriptures, my dear,never be ashamed of God's truth.
Jude exhorts us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. It gives us the example of Enoch in the generation before the flood who stood boldly against the world until God took him.
May your pen be the witness to this generation till Jesus comes.
Keep it up!
~ Your Hubby

kalopoieo said...

A wholehearted AMEN!
God's love is anything but sentimental or tolerant.
Slow to anger is not TOLERANCE. That's called mercy!
Excellent post.

Michelle Bentham said...


There is a zeal in your writing that is growing and building my friend. I see God smiling on you...

You know, love and forgiveness and grace and mercy and all of those things do nothing to negate consequences for sin unless we surrender what we did to earn the consequences. And, still... Sometimes God lets us endure the consequence just the same - because He loves us.

We came from a small church who preached, "Love the sinner, hate the sin..." But leaders refused to deal with sin in their own life or confront blatant sin in the lives of its members. Instead members who were living in unrepentence were promoted, honored and elevated because of their contribution to the church financially or service wise.

Surrender was never a part of their vocabulary. Love was the order of the day, but gossip and malicious attitudes crowded out what they claimed to be the most about. Rivalries were born and marriages came under attack. Church discipline was non-existent and the church could do nothing to help its congregants seek a more holy life. But love was preached and poured out.

When we left there we knew without a doubt we were called to Gateway by God. At the membership class we received a workbook that we went through during the membership class that outlined the history and the beliefs of the church. A few months later I happened across this book on my desk and began to thumb through the appendix - I was in awe of what I saw.

A church governed by a Biblical pattern, seeking to honor God and offering a place of acceptance and ACCOUNTABILITY, which meant individual growth.

In America today, society has used buzz words to coin the tolerance movement. Words like "hate crimes," "Intolerance," being likened to "predjudice and biases" that exist without merit (as in the former predjudices expressed in this country against non-white races) which were socially injust and morally as repugnant.

So now the moral and the good are called "intolerant" and "predjudiced." As you have sited in your previous posts.

Tolerance has no place in the church for tolerance lacks accountabilty and leaves each to his own way. Accountability and Responsibility go hand in hand. One only need to look at the evening news or a politician in this country, watch a television program in Prime Time or listen to modern secular music to see we have become a society driven by the fleshly patterns and desires of the human heart. We have stopped requiring accountability in the name of tolerance and become a nation of utter ruin.

The mercy that God offers us does not say that what we have done is "right," but that it requires payment. Part of holding someone accountable is to walk with them and support them as they take the steps to implement change in their lives beyond the moment they fell.

Well... I'm writing my own post here... You have done well. Feel free to write to me if you would like for me to go on. I'm afraid I have pressed in and left too many words for you to read... Love you. Well Done!

Esthermay said...

Too many words? Never.
Did you attend our last church?
In all honesty, a huge majority of churches match your sad narrative.

I am so sorry this happened to you and your family.

Church discipline is non-existent in churches today. And church leadership is literally helpless to do anything to help members seek a more holy life. Preaching Love and Tolerance will not save people from eternal death. Preaching salvation will. People just don't want to hear it.

. . . We should start a GROUP BLOG!

Ava Semerau said...

Surely plenty to think and ponder in this post - as well as the comments to it! I agree that tolerance isn't love, but what about the relationship between intolerance and judgment? I'm going back to the Bible on that one - as always, thanks for pushing!


john burreson said...

I would contend that part of the root of tolerance in churches today is that membership roles are full of unsaved “Christians.” Certainly, tolerance has built over the centuries and true New Testament believers are guilty, but I do maintain that many “church problems” stem from Satan’s use of unrepentant “Christians.”
You find this especially true in evangelical churches whose members are made up of those “Christians” coming in from the liturgical churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, etc.) who haven’t a clue what being saved really means. And as you state yourself, “

. . . church leadership is literally helpless to do anything to help members seek a more holy life. Preaching Love and Tolerance will not save people from eternal death. Preaching salvation will. People just don't want to hear it.”

They don’t want to hear it because they are unrepentant.
Wonderful writing. Wonderful discernment as always.

Conservative One said...

I'm not one to comment, but AMEN to Mr. Burreson's comment.
I enjoy your blog, Estermay.

Betsy Markman said...

Oh yes, indeed! This "gospel of tolerance" is a travesty. If I had cancer, and someone preached to my doctor that he should just accept, embrace and tolerate my cancer out of love for me, I would tell that person to shut up!

Keep preaching it, sister!

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