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Friday, December 02, 2016

Always Intolerant

Christians these days are often accused of being intolerant. Of course, they don't mean "intolerant." They mean "unwilling to embrace as good what we think is good." Which, of course, is not tolerance. Tolerance requires that you ... you know ... tolerate something, not embrace it. Tolerance requires that you disagree with something. No one tolerates what they already agree with.

An interesting piece by Tim Keller points out that this problem is not new. In the Roman world into which Christianity emerged, everyone had their favorite gods. There were Roman gods and Greek gods and even household gods. There was the god, Caesar. And everyone was fine with that. "You believe your gods and we'll believe our gods. We'll honor yours and you honor ours. It's all good." The conflict wasn't that Christians had a different God. The conflict was that they refused to honor the other ones. They were even accused of being atheists. "You don't believe in our gods," they were told. See? Atheists.

Times haven't changed. We are still unable to submit to the gods of the day. There are lots of them. Humanism, materialism, science. And, of course, a host of other religions. And we're required to say, "Sorry, but yours are false and only ours is true." We're required to say it because Jesus said it and the rest of Scripture confirms it. We cannot embrace their false beliefs. By today's definition, that makes us intolerant. It doesn't win us friends.

Instead we are to lead lives of sexual purity and hospitality and generosity. We are to be multi-ethnic (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11). We are to submit to husbands and love and honor wives, forgive enemies, and share in a Christian identity over all others -- national, cultural, even family. We offer a personal relationship with God predicated first on admission of guilt and repentance with salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

Some things change. Some things never change. They were considered intolerant then. We are now. It is to be expected when following Christ whom the world hated.


Danny Wright said...

We're even supposed to be tolerant of intolerance, as in tolerating Islam, which is just as intolerant of most other religions except that it is intolerant in a violent way. It is to be tolerated,and embraced as you say, even though it embodies every evil thing Christians are accused of.

Stan said...

Interesting point, Danny. Interesting because when I've pointed out that those who are complaining about our "intolerance" are themselves being intolerant, they often tell me, "We're only intolerant of intolerance." But, you're right. Not all intolerance. It looks like it's only Christian "intolerance" (in quotes because their use does not fit the actual definition).