I have read more tortured scripture exegesis in articles in the last couple of weeks than I have seen before. There are very few Doctors of the Church, but there is a large amount of self-appointed Spin Doctors of the Church. Any passage that disagrees with their agenda assumes a Matrix like quality where the plain words and context are not the reality and there is a secret hidden meaning hidden way below. Any passage that seems to agree with their agenda on a surface and secular level needs no further examination, such as passages on judging.
Traditionally we have read the Bible employing the four senses of scripture: literal, allegorical, tropological and anagogical. Modern exegetes seem to have come up with a new sense or more correctly nonsense of scripture. I call this the Contradictory Ridiculous And Progressive (CRAP) sense. No matter what the other four senses point to this new sense will have the opposite meaning. This sense is used whenever the interpretation using the other four senses disagrees with your deeply held convictions.
One of the examples being bantered about is that a behavior can be totally accepted despite the previous understanding of Christian teaching. The argument is that Jesus surrounded himself with marginalized groups of people who were disparaged by others. That Jesus totally accepted and loved these people where they were at in a totally non-judgmental manner. So if a group is marginalized than immediately that equates to acceptance by Jesus. I doubt though that they would see groups that are properly marginalized like racists as meeting this condition. I guess you have to be politically correctly marginalized.
Jesus did surround himself with Tax Collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the sick, Shepard’s, fisherman, and many others who were looked down on in society. The main thing these people had in common was not that they were looked down upon and thus acceptable to Jesus, but because they were repentant or open to repentance.
There must also be a liberal Scripture attention deficit disorder (SADD) where only the first parts of a parable are read and not the conclusion. You will hear the story of the woman caught in adultery and almost never the conclusion “go and sin no more.” He did not say “I affirm you in your inclusive marriage arrangement.” The man who had been ill for thirty-eight years wanted to be healed and he was. Jesus then said “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.”
The diminutive tax collector Zacchaeus when moved to repentance by Jesus’ invitation said “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” The prodigal son renounced his debauchery before returning to his fathers house. Peter after witnessing the miraculous catch said “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” and later after denouncing that he knew Jesus, he wept.
Jesus was not just there for the marginalized but worked with Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews, a Centurion, and a rich young man who desired (but not completely) to grow closer to the lord. They did not become disciples since they were not quite ready to give up worldly allures to join him.
Yes Jesus loves us “where we are at” but also desires that we continuously draw closer to him. We separate ourselves from him and this deeper relationship through our sins. We must continuously repent and draw closer to him to grow in truth and the spiritual life. The problems with tolerance and acceptance is that it is in no way charitable when a person is doing acts that are objectively sinful. If your child is laying on the train tracks with a train fast approaching you don’t just love him “where he is at” but shout a warning about the upcoming danger. Too many people are being run over spiritually by a false sense of compassion.
Shameless Mark Shea plug ahead: If you want to know more about the real four senses of scripture I highly recommend Mark’s Making Senses Out of Scripture.