The Issue of Inclusiveness
To the Editor:
It's easy to understand why reader reactions to your July 13th article, "Club faces intolerance charge," continue to appear in your pages. The article raised very basic issues about whether tolerance and religious belief can be reconciled.
The article referred to a quote used by Craig Parker taken from the New Testament, specifically from the Letter to the Galatians: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed."
I suspect that many readers recoiled from this "very harsh language." Its author, Paul of Tarsus, was a major force in the early Christian movement of the first century. Paul contested repeatedly with other teachers over the criteria for membership in that movement. While others imposed various restrictions and legal requirements upon their converts, Paul insisted upon opening the doors to all who professed belief in Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
Ironically, Paul reserved his most vehement condemnation for those who would attempt to narrow the all-important path to salvation. This was a critical attribute of Paul's good news: a gospel of inclusion.