A Strange and Unacceptable Paradox

There was in the church at Pergamum a strange and unacceptable paradox, an inconsistency that Jesus simply will not tolerate, then or now. . . . Whereas they had maintained their own theological convictions, they were, at the same time, tolerating in their fellowship certain false prophets who advocated licentious behavior, ostensibly in the name of Christian freedom (see Rev. 2:14–15). This simply will not do. Although they had not themselves denied the faith, they had become inexplicably lax toward falsehood in the assembly and had endured the presence and teaching of ethical error.

This is a truly remarkable, indeed puzzling, situation. They were devoted to the truth of who Christ is and the essentials of the gospel message. They were even willing to die for it! But they fudged when it came to dealing with those in the church who compromised the ethical implications of that very gospel. It’s almost as if they said, “I personally will never back down, even if it means my death. On the other hand, perhaps we need to be less rigid and a bit more tolerant when it comes to those who draw different conclusions about the practical implications of the saving grace of our Lord.”

There’s nothing to indicate why they had adopted this posture. It certainly wasn’t out of fear. Perhaps they reckoned that such ethical and theological deviations were of little consequence or that they could more easily win over the dissidents by declining to rock the ecclesiological boat. Whatever the case, they were misguided in granting them such a wide berth and must act swiftly to put things right. The bottom line is this: sometimes peace and love come at too high a price.

Adapted from Sam Storms, To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3, Kindle Edition

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

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6 Replies to “A Strange and Unacceptable Paradox”

  1. Don’t know why I have jumped up here!  Must have pressed the wrong button!

    The CoS decides at its General Assembly in 2013 on gay marriage etc.  I suppose i will just have to wait until then.

    1. I suspect it’s because of the reply chain limit I’ve got in place (4 total); it starts getting messy when it’s beyond that.

      Doesn’t hurt to wait and pray LOTS, no. But the fact that it’s really even a question says something, doesn’t it?

  2.  Would this mean that if your church was to accept homosexual marriage and you could not, that you should leave the church?

    1. That would be a valid reason to leave a particular local church, yes. 

      1. But if that “particular local church” is actually the denomination called the Church of Scotland . . . ?

        1. Is the church you’re a part of affirming of the denomination’s decision? Can you stay with a clear conscience and are there other, faithful churches nearby?

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