Sunday, July 24, 2005

On Tolerance

Does any word disarm an evangelical Christian more effectively? Scene: As a Christian who takes seriously the Great Commission, you might be looking for an opportunity to share the gospel with someone. The subject of faith comes up, and you might be thinking, "Here is an opportunity." Then someone makes the comment, "I think it is important to be tolerant of all religions and creeds." At which point, the evangelical is tongue tied. O, to find the right tactful words of truth to communicate in love!

Well friends, getting caught off guard by that line (or a similar line) once or twice is somewhat understandable (but not excusable). However, to continuously be caught by that line without finding a way to contend for the faith is to bow our knees to the idols of postmodernism.

We need to have a proper understanding of the word tolerance. We need to understand that there are two types of tolerance: one which is holy and patient and loving and kind - which leads a person to repentance, and the other which is dead set against all Christian creeds.

First of all, all readers need to understand that I promote the intrinsic value of all people. All people have been created by God in His image, and are therefore valuable, regardless of anything and everything they ever do and say. Therefore, we all ought to love one another. We ought to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We ought to love our neighbors. We ought to love each other, even though at times, we are all unlovely. In this sense, we ought to be patient and tolerant with each other, trusting that as we show each other the kindness and tolerance of God, then God will lead us to repentance, faith, and salvation.

However, we need wisdom as we exercise this tolerance. It would be intolerable to tolerate any and all wickedness. Indeed, the whole point of having law and order in society is to resist (not tolerate) those who are bent on doing evil. We ought to stand up forcefully for righteousness, truth, and justice. If someone has skewed ideas about these, then we ought to contend for that which is noble, true, just, beautiful, and right. We should patiently and forcibly make our case, and preach the message of the cross with faith that God will honor the preaching of His Holy Word. Anyone who does this will encounter plenty of resistance and persecution. Jesus said we would. He also said that we are blessed when we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

In America, we have a really screwed up idea of freedom. Many would agree with me on one hand, but then on the other hand, they would argue that in America, everyone has the right to believe whatever he wants, and no one should interfere with that. The idea here is that a person has freedom in choosing to believe whatever he wants.

My friends, this is not so! Anyone who sins is a slave of sin. Anyone who believes a creed or an ideology that is contrary to the Holy Scriptures is not free; he is deceived and in bondage. Christ grants freedom to His disciples - that is those who embrace the discipline of following Christ. Freedom goes hand in hand with discipline. Without discipline, there is no freedom. Without law and order, there is no liberty. The idea that one needs to be sacrificed for the sake of the other is bogus. On the contrary, they go hand in hand.

Our rights are given to us by the one true Holy Creator God. To think that God would give us the right to sin, and to think that God wants us to defend the supposed right to sin, is to impune the Name and character of God. God is ready and willing to forgive all such foolishness and evil, but anyone who is holding to such ideas had better repent. A moral wrong can never be a civil right.

Proverbs 10:17 summarizes these ideas nicely: "He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray."


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