Faith and Tolerance — Goes Together Like Frogs and Bicycles
Vol: 24 Issue: 8 Tuesday, May 8, 2018
”Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6) This verse has gotten Christianity into hot water with the world throughout the history of the Christian Church Age.
This verse was what gave the Romans their excuse for throwing Christians to the lions. It has served as the main reason for Christian persecution wherever it might be found.
This verse is the one that is behind the UN’s hatred of Christianity, and is the main reason that in Canada, the Bible has been determined, under certain circumstances, to be ‘hate literature’.
Jesus’ claim that He is the only way is what upsets the world. To the world, Christianity is ‘intolerant’ because it teaches the only one way to salvation is through Jesus.
To a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., that means that they are excluded, since they don’t worship Jesus as God. Therefore, Christianity is an ‘exclusive’ religion, and people don’t like to be excluded, even when they CHOOSE to be excluded.
It is absurd, really. Consider the premise for a moment. The ‘hate speech’ argument is based on Jesus not letting Muslims, Hindus, etc., et al, into His heaven just because they don’t believe in Him.
So, from the secular perspective, if the ‘mythical’ Jesus won’t let unbelievers into His ‘mythical’ Heaven, that is ‘intolerance’ and ‘hateful’.
Leaving aside why Jesus would exclude unbelievers for a second, one has to wonder why somebody who doesn’t believe in Jesus would want to go to His heaven in the first place?
Whether or not Christianity is intolerant depends on what the word ‘tolerant’ means. And in an age of propaganda, words are not very precise. Remember, in the name of ‘pro-choice’, it is a crime to offer a different choice that abortion within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.
‘Militant’ means any terrorist who isn’t for the moment, targeting YOU. Or it means ‘radical’, as in ‘militant feminist’.
So, ‘militant’ — depending on political worldview — can mean either a crazed terrorist murdering as many innocents as possible or, a group of angry women carrying signs.
“Tolerant” — and its derivatives — is a word like that.
From the perspective of Biblical Christianity, there is no more tolerant worldview than that of Christ. Christianity teaches the obvious truth that all men have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.
Even atheists recognize ‘sin’ — even if they rename it. Were it not for sin, societies wouldn’t need police protection. Nations wouldn’t need armies. Religions would have no reason to exist and no ‘hammer’ with which to keep the faithful in line.
Sin exists. All religions offer a remedy. Some require you to go out and knock on doors and proselytize new members as a means of salvation from sin. Others, like Islam, might require you to go out and blow up a school bus as a means of salvation from sin.
Some require you to keep certain church laws and regulations in order to be saved from sin, while others require an outward act of penitence.
Even secular society has a remedy for sin. When a convicted criminal serves out his sentence for a crime, he is said to have ‘paid his debt to society’. He can never be punished for that crime again under the law. There is nothing intolerant about the recognition for sin, or the existence of a sin debt.
Jesus offers all men the free gift of salvation for the asking. They need only accept the gift of Pardon offered and trust in His Shed Blood as full payment of their sin debt.
If they accept the gift, they are imputed with the Righteousness of Christ and have therefore paid their sin debt and are eligible for Heaven. Their ‘debt to Heaven’s society’ is paid, and like the convict whose sentence is served, they can never be punished for that crime again.
If they reject the offer of Pardon, then they stand before the Righteous Judge with that debt unpaid. Nothing intolerant about that.
Not too long back, Bernie Ebbers, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the Worldcom embezzlement scandal. Ebbers’ lawyers tried to mitigate his sentence by pointing out the millions of dollars Ebbers contributed to philanthropic efforts.
The judge was unmoved by Ebbers’ good works, and imposed what was tantamount to a life sentence for the 63 year-old executive. (Ebbers won’t be eligible for release until he is 85 years old.)
Was the judge intolerant because he refused to consider that Ebbers gave some of the money that he stole to charity? One would have a difficult time making that case, and Ebbers’ subsequent sentence proves it. Besides, Ebbers wasn’t being judged for what he did with the money. He was being judged for stealing it in the first place.
Ebbers tried to buy his pardon using stolen money that he gave to charity. The judge saw right through him. Standing before the Righteous Judge arguing our good works without paying for our bad works is equally transparent.
Jesus is Divinely fair in His judgement. His Pardon is based on the fact He has already paid for the crimes, and offers His payment on our behalf.
Nothing intolerant about that.
The Bible gives us a genuine basis to recognize hypocrisy and confront it for what it is. Because the Bible upholds the dignity of all persons as image-bearers of God, we have a basis for a genuinely diverse culture.
When faithful to the Scriptures, Christianity is tolerant in the appropriate sense of the term.
As noted, it all depends on the meaning one assigns to the word ‘tolerant’. When tolerance means that we are to accept all beliefs as equally true and valid, Christians must respectfully object.
The notion that truth is a social construct is what gives the world a reason to hate Christianity as ‘intolerant’ and ‘hateful’. To a Christian, truth matters. To the world, the truth is whatever they want to believe is true.
In the sense of ‘Christian intolerance’ the word ‘tolerant’ really means ‘pluralist’. ‘Pluralism’ is a curious philosophy, in that it holds that a number of simultaneous and conflicting truths can exist at the same time with each separate truth remaining equally true.
Pluralism holds that distinct cultural beliefs are true for that culture–but not for cultures that operate out of a different “paradigm” (like Christianity.)
Pluralists say that truth is a “social construction”. It is created through social consensus and tradition, not discovered in reality that exists independently of our beliefs. Truth is, therefore, subjective interpretation, rather than facts based in reality.
To the pluralist, all religions are equally valid and all religions lead to God. All gods are equally ‘god’, which is the logical equivalent to saying there is no God at all — and then making a religious worldview out of it.
Therefore, defining ‘tolerant’ as the semantic equivalent to ‘pluralist’ means that Christianity is intolerant because it stands or falls on that central truth that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him.
Under the Romans, Christianity was outlawed because it was ‘hateful’ and ‘intolerant’.
Under revived Rome, the Apostle John says the Tribulation saints will be persecuted and put to death for refusing to accept his universal symbol of religious pluralism, what we call ‘the Mark of the Beast.’
The Mark of the Beast isn’t merely an economic system, although John says that without it, no man would be able to buy or sell.
John also says that it will become a universal, pluralistic religious system saying that, he will “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:15)
Those who don’t accept voluntary inclusion into the pluralistic religion of the false prophet because of their faith in Christ will be executed for their intolerance.
(As a side note, the ‘Tribulation Saints’ are those who are converted by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists sealed by the Holy Spirit (Revelation Chapter 7) and not the Church Age saints. During the Tribulation, power is given to the antichrist (and Satan) “to make war with the saints, and TO OVERCOME THEM,” — something not possible with Church Age believers Personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.)
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome THEM: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
This is part of the continuously unfolding tapestry of Bible prophecy for the last days. Religious pluralism, in some form, is the universal religion of the antichrist.
Christianity is not the only faith that makes claims of exclusivity. So does Islam. So does Judaism. Exclusivity is a fundamental of each faith.
All three are currently engaged in a global war aimed at wiping each other out. Whether or not they succeed, there is little doubt that ‘fundamentalism’ is rapidly becoming a dirty word in these last days.
The false prophet is depicted by John as having, “two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” The Lamb is symbolic of Christianity, whereas the dragon is another name for Satan.
Logically, the pluralist religion of the antichrist will be some counterfeit form of Christianity that includes all other faiths under a single religious umbrella. We are getting closer, but we aren’t there yet.
The problem is, one cannot reconcile ‘tolerance’ with ‘faith’. ‘Tolerance’ (religious pluralism) dictates that there are many truths. The indwelt Church stands as an obstacle on the path to religious pluralism during the Church Age, until it is recalled at the Rapture.
The reason, in part, is because faith recognizes only one truth. One cannot have ‘faith’ in conflicting truths — the Bible says, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Each of us goes to work each Monday because we have faith that our paychecks will be there Friday. Not just that we will be paid, but how much we will be paid. If that paycheck was only there sometimes, and the amount reflected the whim of a different paymaster each week, who would keep showing up for work on Monday?
Our work is the ‘substance’ of things hoped for (our paycheck) and the fact we show up each Monday is the unseen evidence of our faith in payday. Do you follow?
One cannot be ‘tolerant’ of conflicting ‘truths’, any more than it would intolerant to refuse to go to work without faith in payday being the same ‘truth’ every week.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”
“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)
Faith and tolerance are polar opposites. That doesn’t make Christianity intolerant of the world.
It makes the world intolerant of Christianity.
Featured Commentary: Once Upon Elam ~Steve Schmutzer