Intolerance will not be tolerated


Intolerance will not be tolerated




We have a sign that you cannot miss as you walk into the pulpit to preach, it’s by a chap called David Hayward ( and it reads –


“All means all.”


If you cannot agree with that ideal then we don’t think you should preach in our church. If you wish to pick and choose to whom you preach or if you wish to limit the scope and the Grace of the Gospel to those who YOU think should hear it then we don’t want to hear what you have to say, we probably wouldn’t agree with you anyway. We try not to be intolerant, we honestly try but we are intolerant of the intolerant.


You see, intolerance is not very present in the New Testament (expect for intolerance for the religious bigots of the day, and there were quite a few of them). All those who seem excluded at the outset of the story are the very ones who are welcomed in by the end. Jews and non-Jews join together to form the Church; Women and men become leaders and workers in the Church. Did I mention the orphans, widows, lepers, sinners, publicans, tax collectors and various other ‘undesirables’ who are welcomed? The ones who we (the Church of today in one form or another) usually exclude are the very ones who are sought out by Jesus and then by the Apostles and welcomed in, not in a ‘token gesture, look we welcome lepers” sort of way but right into the very heart of the church, into leadership positions and other important roles.


As an example of this look at the first gentile (non Jewish) convert to the early Church – a nameless man usually called by the flattering title of – the Ethiopian Eunuch (see Acts chapter 8). Everything seemed to be against his admittance to the Church and yet he is the one to whom the Holy Spirit sends one of the Apostles, a man called Phillip. Nadia Bolz-Weber (in her brilliant book “Pastrix”) puts it far better than I could: “The first gentile convert to Christianity is a foreigner, who is also a person of color and a sexual minority? If only the guy were also “differently abled” and gluten intolerant.”


In every way this man should be excluded and yet he is the first non-jewish person welcomed into the church. What does that tell us about how things should be within the church? – it screams out to me that intolerance should not be tolerated, that everyone is welcome and we shouldn’t try and choose who is and isn’t welcome, that’s God’s role. All we can do is open the doors and welcome in all who comes – whoever they maybe.


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