The “Whatever” Problem With “Jesus Never Excluded Anyone”
by Tom Gilson
It came up again this weekend: a church leader saying, “We must not side with those in the church who would exclude a certain group of people. Jesus never excluded anyone.”
This person didn’t name the issue. Of course we all knew what he was talking about, but he chose not to say it anyway.
And there’s a bigger problem with this statement of his than either the group or the issue, so I’m not going to name it either. I know you’ll know what I’m referring to. What I write here could apply equally as well to other issues, though, in other times and places. This post isn’t about that specific issue; it’s about Christians’ dangerous tendency to bend their view of Scripture to accommodate current cultural demands, whatever those demands may be.
I have three points. First, that leader’s statement was both careless and almost entirely false. Second, it usurps God’s place, putting humans in charge of our relationships with him. Third, it tends to set aside the most central fact of Christianity — redemption through the cross — as if it were hardly relevant.
1. “Jesus Never Excluded Anyone” Is a Careless and Generally False Statement
The Church should indeed welcome everyone. There’s no denying that.
The Church has never fully practiced that welcome. There’s no denying that, either.
But hold on a moment: what do we mean by “welcome”? Can we use a little care in defining our terms, please?
If we mean the Church should invite everyone into a loving, truth-filled, warmly-offered opportunity to seek God together with us, then yes, we should welcome everyone.
Often, however, this statement means everyone may be welcomed into full communion and fellowship as members of the people of God, including positions of church leadership. For those who take the Bible seriously — who look to the evidence to determine whether Jesus excluded anyone or not — this is obviously false…
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