Thursday, September 8, 2011

What is Tolerance?

In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.

Dorothy Sayers

We are encouraged to be tolerant in schools, at work, with people that we don't even know.  But what does it mean to be tolerant?  They (whoever "they" are) would have you believe that it is similar to acceptance.  That as a Christian I must tolerate or accept someone showing disregard to God or to my faith.  That I should tolerate or accept people who claim to be Christian's, yet they thoroughly insult soldiers who have fought and died for them.  In our society tolerance is valued over truth.  It would be absolutely horrible if someone felt uncomfortable or had their feelings hurt.

Tolerance is not acceptance, it does not mean that I endorse your world view or agree with you.  It doesn't mean that I can't criticize what is going on around me.  I can make judgment's about what it good and true and still be tolerant.  Tolerance is NOT a virtue.  If my friend was athiest, being tolerant to her would mean that I am kind and charitable towards her, but I could still tell her that she is mistaken regarding God's existence.  Of course I would do so with humility and civility.

I came across several quotes that discuss tolerance more eloquently than I ever could.

"Once upon a time tolerance was the power that kept lovers of competing faiths from killing each other.  It was the principle that put freedom above forced conversion.  It was rooted in the truth that coerced conviction is no conviction.  But now the new twisted tolerance denies that there are any competing faiths; they only complement each other.  It denounces not only the effort to force conversions, but the very idea that any conversion may be necessary.  It holds the conviction that no religious conviction should claim superiority over another." John Piper 
"A new Decalogue has been adopted by some of our day, the first words of which reads, “Thou shalt not disagree,” and a new set of Beatitudes too, which begins, “Blessed are they that tolerate everything, for they shall not be made accountable for anything.”  It is now the accepted thing to talk over religious differences in public with the understanding that no one will try to convert another or point out errors in his belief.  Imagine Moses agreeing to take part in a panel discussion with Israel over the golden calf; or Elijah engaging in a gentlemanly dialogue with the prophets of Baal.  Or try to picture Jesus seeking a meeting of minds with the Pharisees to iron out differences.  The blessing of God is promised to the peacemaker, but the religious negotiator had better watch his step.  Darkness and light can never be brought together by talk.  Some things are not negotiable.A.W. Tozer

As a Christian I am a lamb living in a world of lions.  Don't miss an opportunity to show someone God's love because you are afraid that doing so would make you intolerant. 

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