Is Christianity Intolerant?
Tolerance Out of Control
Tolerance, according to a popular dictionary is: "The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with." To tolerate simply means you accept the existence of different views: to recognize other people's right to have different beliefs or practices without attempting to suppress them.
Some have called Christianity intolerant simply because we believe in absolute truth and that there is a universal morality that should apply to everyone. That absolute value system applies to everyone because all mankind was created in the image of a holy God and He is the judge of what is right and wrong.
Others call Christianity intolerant because of our belief that there is only one way to heaven. Jesus has said: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except through me" (John 14:6). Most other religions teach a form of works salvation, in order to become good enough to make it to whatever eternal state they believe in. Christians believe that no man can work his way to Heaven. It is only by God's grace, through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8,9).
However, do these beliefs make a person intolerant? Or has the definition of intolerance changed over the past few decades? Let us examine this.
I. Tolerance Redefined
In our "politically correct" culture, the word tolerance has taken on a whole new meaning. Instead of simply recognizing other people's rights to have different beliefs without suppressing them, even though we don't recognize them as truth, now we have to accept their "truth" as equal with our own. We are in a society in which all truth is relative. Right and wrong change according to public opinion. Now all values, all beliefs and all lifestyles are equal. And if you don't accept them as such you are intolerant.
So under the new meaning of intolerance, any religion that espouses absolute truth would be seen as an intolerant religion. But these people are self-refuting. And their logic is skewed. For if all belief is equal, then a Christian believer has just as much right to speak about and practice his religious beliefs as anyone else. I like what Josh McDowell had to say in an article he wrote: He tells us:
" If these 'tolerance' advocates reject Christianity, then they are not treating this belief as 'equal'. So, in practice, to paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, all beliefs are equal, but some beliefs are more equal than others. The result is extreme intolerance towards Christianity from people who talk so much about tolerating all views. In short, they are intolerant of intolerance, so logically they should be intolerant of themselves!" (From an article entitled: The New Tolerance by Josh McDowell).
II. Intolerance in Disguise
Such is the plight of all evangelical Christians who believe all truth comes from the God of the Bible, and who believe that He has created the universe and set the rules. The Judeo-Christian beliefs that once were used to govern our society, that have lead to one of the most free, powerful and prosperous societies that has ever existed, are now being belittled dismissed and maligned.
The truth is that nearly every lifestyle and belief system under the Sun is tolerated except Christianity. The Bible has been taken out of the public schools and kids can't even say "Bless you" without being docked points in at least one classroom in California. That is equally true in some workplaces. One woman was fired for saying: "Have a blessed day" to customers. Other schools and businesses are banning students and workers from saying: "Merry Christmas."
Further, there are various groups trying to get all religious symbols, particularly Christian symbols, out of public places all together. For instance, a group called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have advocated that things like crosses and other religious symbols be banned.
While we should not conclude that Christians have never been intolerant, in the traditional sense of the word, neither should we stand idly by and let the "new tolerance" movement paint us into a corner with their views and their seeming agenda against us.
We believers need to repent of the times that we have not recognized and allowed others to have an opinion, wrong though it may be. The same free country that has allowed us to have our freedom of religion for more than two centuries should indeed allow it for everyone.
However, we must also do all in our power to make sure the freedoms we have known continue for centuries to come, if the Lord tarry. In order to do that, we must realize that we are where we are at this time in history because our nation has drifted away from the God who brought us into existence and has given to us this great republic. Let us who call on the name of the Lord pray for repentance and healing of this great country of ours. And may the Lord, in His mercy, save us from the new intolerance that is now sweeping our land.