Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.
We live in day when we are pressured to be politically correct. Sadly, it seems like many Christians view Jesus as no different than Barney the dinosaur. It’s as if Christians have never even read the Gospels. This means that when it comes to the hot button issues many Christians tend to back down and simply play the love card. I constantly see Christians taking passages out of context to make their point. Now why is this? First, there is no doubt that many Christians haven’t been loving and have been overplayed the truth card. In other words, “This is the truth and that’s the way it is.” However, this doesn’t give a Christian full license to just love the person and not discuss the truth issue. I run into this all the time. When the emotions run strong on a particular topic, the truth issue gets put on the back burner. So the bottom line is the following: If you’re going to attempt to emulate Jesus, please read the Gospels and be willing to see him in all His attributes. We do nobody any favors when we only emphasize love at the exclusion of truth. And by the way, while I think we should show great love and compassion, the “love only” approach may end up allowing someone to destroy themselves and others. Sin seems to have a habit of doing that.
One book that is helpful on this topic is Jesus Behaving Badly: The Puzzling Paradoxes of the Man from Galilee. The authors say the following:
“Jesus called those who weren’t Jewish “dogs” and upheld the special status of the Hebrews in a way we would call ethnocentric if not racist (Mk 7:24-30//Mt 15:21-28). With no women among the twelve apostles, he looks pretty chauvinistic. He apparently had anger issues, cursing a fig tree because it didn’t have any fruit on it, and driving merchants out of the temple with a whip (Mk 11:12-24//Mt 21:12-22; Lk 19:45-47). He sent two thousands pigs to their death in the sea (Mk 5:1-20//Mt 8:28-34//Lk 8:26-39). One person who didn’t think Jesus was so great after all was English philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his famous essay “Why I Am Not a Christian,” Russell claimed that Jesus was mistaken when he predicted that he would return within a generation, and unethical when he cursed a fig tree and caused the death of thousands of pigs. He found Jesus’ teaching about hell particularly reprehensible: “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”
The word most commonly translated “hell” in the New Testament comes from the Hebrew term Gehenna, meaning the “valley of (the son of) Hinnom.” This was the valley on the southwestern side of Jerusalem that became notorious as a place of pagan sacrifices, where children were burned alive as an offering to the Canaanite gods Molech and Baal (2 Chron 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35). King Josiah destroyed the shrines in the valley to stop this pagan practice (2 Kings 23:10), and the place came to be used for dumping and burning garbage. In the period between the Old and New Testaments, the name Gehenna began to be used symbolically for the place of divine punishment—the fires of hell. “- Pg 11.