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Our culture says it values tolerance, but does it? Let's talk.

Tolerance of other religions

Postby Heyday » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:49 pm


As far as I understand christianity is mostly based on altruism, loving your neighbor and so on.

Other religions, especially Islam (as far as I understand, but I'll gladly be teached on that), don't tolerate other beliefs, even going so far to telling people to erase them.

How does christianity unite those two things? On the one hand christians obviously believe their religion is the "right" one, but on the other hand you are supposed to respect and love everyone else as they are.

Re: Tolerance of other religions

Postby jimwalton » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:21 am

Christianity is mostly based on holiness, grounded in truth, expressing itself in love, joy, peace, patience, and goodness. "Loving God" is the most important pursuit in life, and "loving your neighbor" is one important way we should our love for God.

The word "Islam" originally referred to that strength which characterized a desert warrior who would fight to death for his tribe if need be. Through the centuries it has come to refer to the peace that comes from surrender to God. "Muslim" now refers to someone (anyone) who submitted himself to God.

The Qur'an, however, tells a different story. 64% of the contents of the Qur'an is driven by the question of what to do with *Kafir*—unbelievers (not just defined as those unaccepting of Islam, but as "evil, disgusting, and the lowest form of life"). The Kafir have no human or civil rights. Any non-Muslim can be killed, sold into slavery, sexually abused, raped, mistreated, dismembered, or mutiliated.

In total there are over 100 verses in the Qur'an enjoining Muslims to fight, kill, torture, rape, pillage, and conquer in the name of Allah against the Kafir. Surah 2.190-196, 216; 5.33-35 are a few of the many references. The Qur'an is largely a repetitious, rambling rant against anyone who is not a Muslim, describing how Allah the Merciful will punish and destroy them and send them to hell.

So what do you mean by "How does Christianity unite [those] two things?" As Christians we are commanded to love everyone, even our enemies (Matt. 5.43-48; Romans 12.14-21), even people who persecute us. And so we do. The fact that we believe our religion is right gives us no cause or justification to be intolerant of others.

So let's first talk generally about tolerance. I think we can all agree that a person has no need to be tolerant of something unless they object to it. I don't tolerate something I accept or I'm indifferent to, because it requires nothing of me. If I agree with it, I don't need to tolerate it. Muslims don't need to tolerate Muslims, since they have no objection to it. So also Christians with Christians. Tolerance comes into the picture when when I come across a person or an issue that I have disagreements with.

If tolerance, by definition, requires an initial objection, then Christians are probably the world's most tolerant people. We find ourselves in a culture and society where tolerance has to be continually practiced, since the Bible tells us to love our enemies, to co-exist, and not to judge those outside of the church (1 Cor. 5.12). The least tolerant person is the person who accepts everything, because they don't have to overcome any internal objections to show respect. The most tolerant person finds a lot to which they object, but they show respect anyway.

So if tolerance requires an initial objection, it also implies withheld power. If I would stop something if I could, but am powerless to do so, I am not tolerant, merely impotent. True tolerance means I could exercise power to stop it, but voluntarily withhold that power. Christians do this all the time. We don't shoot people who disagree with us; we don't run them out of office; we don't burn their stores. We hold back, as we rightly should. Otherwise we would be like ISIS, burning, looting, and killing everything in our path that disagrees with our theology or "sacred" lifestyle.

Relativism takes the position that we have a multitude of views, values, and practices all around us, and draws the conclusion that there is no justifiable way to choose among them, because truth is merely opinion. Tolerance, by contrast, objects to those views, has the power to (possibly) stop it, but withholds that power out of respect for the right of the other person to hold that position.

No moral person tolerates everything. There are issues around us—racism, human trafficking, rape, child sexual abuse, economic injustice, exploitation of women—where freedom of expression and justice collide. Given that everyone (I hope) agrees that some things should NOT be tolerated, the real issue should not be whether one is tolerant or intolerant, but what's included on one's list.

Thus conservative Christians may possibly be the most tolerant people in our country, because of the objections Christians have to the direction and expressions of the culture, and yet Christians show considerable respect for those who hold those positions, despite their disagreement. Our commission is to love one another and make disciples, not to judge.

Christians, then, are not guilty of intolerance due to the nature of our own ideology. We subscribe to truth as it is revealed in the Bible, and think that those who believe otherwise are holding on to falsehood, and yet we live next to each other in harmony all across the nation. Christians do have the public and social force to protest more than they do, and yet they most often withhold that action.

Observe Jesus's example. He was incredibly tolerant of anyone outside the kingdom of God. He ate with sinners, cavorted with tax collectors, tolerated the company of prostitutes, and even conversed with women!! And Samaritans! And GENTILES! Jesus seemed to have no rules when it came to sinners. He was extremely tolerant, friendly, loving, and willing to associate, but he always had an agenda: LOVE and TEACH them into the kingdom. This wasn't just party time, but the king on a kingdom mission.

Judgment of the ungodly is God's business at the final Throne. Our job is to love and teach. Jesus hung out with these people are rarely rebuked ANYTHING about their behavior, thoughts, or anything. Think of what he knew, and think of how much he NEVER said.

I hope that helps get the conversation started. Talk more if you want to.

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