How tolerant is God?

‘Tolerance’ is a word that carries a weight of meaning today. To be ‘intolerant’ is immediately identified as wrong. To be ‘tolerant’, therefore, is identified as good. The church is often labeled as ‘intolerant’ for disapproving of certain behaviours. In many respects, churches have certainly behaved inappropriately towards those they disagree with.

But, how tolerant is God? One interesting experiment is to consider who you would accept into your kingdom if you were God. Or, if you have children, who you would accept as your babysitter?

Based on behaviour, there are people I wouldn’t accept. Stalin, for example, or the Bali bombers, or the Lindt Cafe terrorist, Man Haron Monis. Have I now become intolerant or exclusive?

What if I my criteria was sincerity of belief, regardless of what someone believes? I’d accept anyone, as long as they believe sincerely (even if they believe in no god, sincerely). Have I now become intolerant or exclusive since some people aren’t accepted?

What if my criteria was being authentic to oneself. Anyone who is authentic to themselves is accepted. But, once again, have I now become intolerant or exclusive since some people aren’t accepted?

The truth is, if I were God, I would have some sort of boundaries based on what I think is important: behaviour, sincerity, authenticity, or something else.

This means that God is more tolerant than I can be. God lets more people into his kingdom than I could, because his criteria isn’t behaviour, sincerity or authenticity, but is whether a person knows Jesus.

Ben Allen