Pastoral Perspectives

Christian Tolerence

Some of you may find it confusing after reading the article “Faith in Tolerance” (ST April 9 2011). Here’s what I’ve discovered. The article is descriptive of the practices of Freemasonry. This cult has played a major role in promoting religious syncretism, and its adherents have infiltrated most denominations within Christian churches by soliciting members for their organization. The fact that many of its members come from a Christian background helps to conceal some of the more unsavory aspects of that organization. Nevertheless, all is not as it appears. By teaching that all religions lead to God, Freemasonry contradicts Scripture by urging its members to value what is good in every religion and denies that those religions lead to hell. And by urging its members to worship with those of other religions it promotes idolatry (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Galatians 1:6-9).

      The greatest commandment in our postmodern society is this, “thou shalt tolerate one another” One writer wrote: “Tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated.” A person may have one’s religion and may believe it, but has no right to try to persuade another of one’s belief. Why? Because what you are saying is that your belief is superior to their belief. The question is: How believers are to react to a culture whose battle cry is tolerance? Are we to join in? Does the Bible have anything to say about whether we are to tolerate each other and in what ways?

      There is more to tolerance when it comes to looking at it through the lens of our faith. The Bible tells us in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge or you too will be judged”. Christians need to demonstrate love, and it can be done without being judgmental or putting conditions on that love. Being tolerant, according to this definition, is to be non judgmental. Tolerance has a fine line. Often times it is human nature to counter false beliefs by promoting equally false beliefs of the opposite extreme.

      There are ways to be tolerant of another’s viewpoints while holding onto your own beliefs and values. We can be honest if we disagree with a person by being respectful in explaining our views. We live in a society that says it is for free speech, but does not always like it when we exert that right. A tolerance that refuses to condemn and punish evil is just as evil as an intolerance that condemns people for the colour of their skin, or because they speak out against evil.  The Bible tells us that God not only condemned Sodom and Gomorra for tolerating evil, but also condemned other nations for the same reason (Judges 19:15-30, Genesis 19). The same God that condemned Eli, because he was tolerant of the vile behaviour of his sons, still condemns those who are tolerant of evil. We are not to tolerate it, nor are we to be intolerant of those who condemn it (1Samuel 3:12-13, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 3:18, 33:8, Isaiah 5:20).Tolerance become dangerous when there is such a great need for acceptance, that it becomes easier to sometimes tolerate the behavior than throw out our faith. The Bible tells us not to judge, but that doesn’t mean we sit back and let things happen. There are times when you need to make a judgment call, or that you have to judge the situation, not the person. As Christians, we know that God is the only one to judge us, so we need to live by His guidance. While it is dangerous to become overly tolerant, it is also a problem when we are not tolerant enough. Christians have been criticized over the years for their lack of tolerance. In some cases, that lack of tolerance has resulted in violence. Historically, the Crusaders and Inquisition were examples of religious intolerance. When intolerance turns to hate, that’s when people become increasingly dangerous. God does not call us to hate people. We do not have to like what they do, we can even speak out about it, but hate is a powerful and dangerous emotion. We must be careful not to allow ourselves to become so intolerant that we then become blinded by an emotion.

     Our society portrays all who condemn sin as intolerant, and that is where Christians must draw the line. Christians should join hands with our society in their cry for tolerance if tolerance means that we live at peace with those of other faiths, not prohibiting them from believing something unbiblical—that is God’s job. But, of course, this is not what they are asking. By tolerance, our society means that we compromise the objectivity of God’s Word. By tolerance, the world cries for us to stop reaching out to others with the Gospel. By tolerance, the world demands that we approve of their lifestyles. By tolerance, the world is essentially asking us to give up our faith. This we cannot do.  By doing nothing to restrain or punish his sons, Eli sent them to hell. Therefore, had he really loved them, he would have made certain that they not only knew that their behaviour was evil but regretted ever behaving that way. By failing to act in accordance with love, he not only lost his sons but also brought God’s condemnation on himself (1Samuel 2 and 3).   Some in our society would like to see all religions worship together, they want Christians to tolerate falsehood and condone those who contradict God’s Word. However, that would not be the loving thing to do, for the Bible makes it perfectly clear that there is no salvation apart from faith in Christ. (Acts 4:12). When the children of Israel first entered the land of Canaan, God ordered the people of that land destroyed because they were tolerant of human sacrifice (abortion), immorality, and false religion (Deuteronomy 20:17). The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian congregation because it tolerated fornication, and he pronounced a curse on those who pervert the gospel (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Galatians 1:6-9). Therefore, it should be perfectly clear that we are not to tolerate sin, God wants us to condemn sin, and He does not want us to be nasty to those who are guilty, as if we were more righteous than them. We should be tolerant of one another enough to listen and love one another despite our differences.

Ps Cheng Huat

May 1, 2011