What is the most unpopular doctrine in Christianity today? What generates the largest negative comment and response? Homosexuality? Pre-marital sex? Giving and tithing? I would venture to say these are all unpopular – but the root of most of those is Judgement.
The very certain and coming judgement of God.
We don’t talk much about judgement in our society. It just isn’t popular or easy listening. It is a hard doctrine to fit in easily with ‘God is love’ and ‘God loves you’ – because our perception of love is twisted.
It is also a tough subject to talk about because it is easy to get wrong. The way it is portrayed in some circles makes it easy to see why some people call Christians bigots and haters (and by default, they also call God a bigot and hater).
And yet, It is clear throughout the Bible, that at some point in the future, there is going to be a judgement. In one way or another, we will face up to God, and what we have (or have not) done in our lives will be weighed and measured. Our sin will be brought to light – public and private. Our hearts will be laid bare before the Creator of the Universe.
That is what makes it a most unpopular doctrine.
Why do I think it is at the root of other arguments? Because if there is no judgement, there is no consequence for sin. So then how you define sin is how you define judgement. If something is a sin, then in the absence of forgiveness there is only judgement – but if in some way we can call something not a sin (some of the key topics of our age are about defining what is and is not sin), then there is no problem, is there?
I think we forget one little detail though. It is not us that defines the boundaries of what sin is and is not. God, through His word defines right and wrong – not us, not our leaders, not our pastors, not democracy.
2 Peter 2:4–10a (ESV)
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
God does love us – even in the verses above, which would count as a pretty harsh tirade against sin, love shines through (isn’t it interesting how we oft will quote the part about the Lord knows how to rescue the Godly from trials – but fail to mention the rest?). But there still remains, and always will remain, the certainty that at some time in the future, a time when no one can predict, God will judge.
If you are not comfortable with the fact God will judge (and lets be honest, it’s not a comfortable topic!), I suggest you read more. Read more about Who is God – you can do that here and in many other places. Also know that God is not ALL about judgement – there is more to God than judging the world – God is patient, God is Merciful, God is Righteous and Just. God is now skewed like our perceptions, but constant, true, unchanging and reliable. Before you jump on the Bigot Bandwagon, make sure you learn more first!