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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Tolerance is a virtue - for those who have no convictions." G.K. Chesterton

To judge another religious group to be false can seem a pompous undertaking, especially in a culture that preaches tolerance for everything. Tolerance is the banner that unites much of our culture, and anyone who points a judging finger at someone or something is often ridiculed.

But Christians are told in the Bible to separate themselves from the sinful practices of man and to expose error. A distinction has to be made between Christians and those who label themselves as such who clearly are not. God’s word tells us to examine all things and hold fast to that which is true (1 Thessalonians 5:21), so we do.

How can we then examine without judging what is right and wrong? Jesus judged the Pharisees as hypocrites. Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira as liars. (Acts 5:3,4) Paul judged the Galatians as fools (Galatians 3:1).

Something can be said to be right or wrong because the Bible has laid out before us a moral and doctrinal standard that is clear. It is wrong to lie, so we are able to say to someone who lies, “what you are doing is wrong.” That is making a judgment. Of course, a Christian already realizes they are sinners saved by grace (recognizes the log in their own eye first), and is therefore not perfect. But, that doesn’t mean that we should have an ‘anything goes’ attitude for fear of being seen as “judgmental” and ignore sin when we see it.

Christians are commanded to be able to give answers to everyone and to contend for the faith. If we do not fight for the faith, the faith will be lost. If we do not expose the errors of false "Christians" and cults, then the cults and false teachers will move unchecked in the world and lead even more people into eternal destruction.

To make a judgment means we must recognize that there are absolutes. In a world that worships relativism, absolutes are not welcome and the cults that espouse their demonic doctrines beg tolerance.

The true Church stands for the truth of God’s Word, not a compromising collection of beliefs that changes as people’s whims change. The false religions are false because they deny the true God, add works to salvation, and corrupt a multitude of biblical truths. Their end and the end of all who follow them is damnation. To do anything other than warn people about them would be unloving.


  • Actually, you may be surprised that I agree with you :-)

    The question, for me, is whether absolutes are all that exist - indeed, whether absolutes are achievable at all for us in this world. For example, God is Love. God is so identified with Love that it is the only such description in the Bible (we never read that "God is wrath" or "God is justice" - quite different from "God is wrathful", "God is just" or even "God is loving"). The quality itself is identified with God. The absolute God and the absolute quality.

    But for human beings, we cannot be Love, we can only be loving. We cannot be justice, but we can be just. So, when we exercise our judgements, we must always bear in mind our own partial revelation.

    "Christians are commanded to be able to give answers to everyone and to contend for the faith."

    Interestingly, this is exactly what I've been arguing for on another thread here - that we must have answers. This means far more than being able to supply a biblical quotation. We must know what it means, why it means that, and why and how it applies to the current situation.

    Of course, this is part of why I enjoy this blog. It's a place where answers get checked out, and questions get stretched.

    (Top marks for quoting Chesterton, BTW - he's one of my favourite authors!)

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/19/2006 06:10:00 AM  

  • I just have one thing to question, as my opinions on progressive Christians, moral relativism within Christianity, and cultural secularlism controlling Christianity is evident in the post on false converts.

    Is the Christian Church doing what God has told it to do? "Judgment begins in the house of the Lord,"
    (1 Peter 4:17).

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/19/2006 02:48:00 PM  

  • I have this theory that all sane people have the same basic morals and our differences come more from the order we put them in. I'm guessing you believe in tolerance yourself, it is just that other morals trump tolerance. I have morals that trump tolerance as well (honesty, for example) but tolerance is higher up my priority list than yours.

    But tolerance isn't easy and it is a conviction in its own right.

    By Blogger Mark, at 7/19/2006 03:08:00 PM  

  • Mark, Can you please explain your comment "Tolerance isn't easy"?? With tolerance there is no disagreeing with anything, so how is that not easy?

    Can you also explain how its a "conviction in its own right"? I don't understand what you mean- do you even?

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/19/2006 08:09:00 PM  

  • John, Are you sure you're reading the same Bible I'm reading?? The entire Bible attests to God's holiness and there are innumerable mentions of God exercising His wrath on sinful humanity, as well as warnings to "flee the wrath that is to come" (that is, to repent and turn to Christ). Yes, God is love, but that doesn't equate to "God is 'nice'" as many would like to think. A loving God does and will demand justice for sin, and to preach only a God of "love" (all loving) is to lead sinners down the path to hell.

    Of course we should be able to always give an answer to anyone who asks us a question about our faith. However, it is not weak to quote from the Bible or if you don't know an answer (and sometimes there might not be one!)to say, "because the Bible says so." God does not need anyone to defend Him. He is our shield and defender, not the reverse.

    I don't think "absolutes are all that exist." There are gray areas in life that aren't specifically defined in the Bible that can be debated. For example, is gambling a sin?? (A topic for future debate) However, there are also moral absolutes (the Ten Commandments) that are given to us in scripture and are also written in the God given conscience of every man.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 7/19/2006 08:34:00 PM  

  • Tolerance doesn't mean agreeing on everything! We humans always disagree on a wide variety of issues, everything from ethics to music choices. Tolerance means putting up with people you don't agree with! That is hard! In fact, you could say it is in direct conflict with human nature. Yet, as society as advanced we have become more tolerant and live each among each other much easier than any generation.

    Traditionally, each religion, even each slight variation within a religion, lead to bloody conflicts and persecution. It is only though liberal tolerance you are allowed to worship as you like. That's why Joey was able to leave the Catholic church and find one he agreed with.

    Pop quiz: in all of human history, in which period were you least likely die by the hand of another human in either war or murder? Answer: right now.

    By Blogger Mark, at 7/20/2006 04:07:00 AM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "The entire Bible attests to God's holiness and there are innumerable mentions of God exercising His wrath on sinful humanity"

    Please, read what I wrote. We read that God is wrathful - we never read that God is Wrath. We do, however, read that God is Love (not just that God is loving). That's directly from the Bible. If you cannot understand that "God is Love" does not equate to "God is nice" then the problem isn't with me.

    The entire message of the apostle John was that "God is Love". Indeed, he reputedly said little else during his final years than "my children, love one another". When asked why he said nothing else, he replied, "If you do this, it is enough."

    "to preach only a God of "love" (all loving) is to lead sinners down the path to hell."

    I quite agree - God's love is without limit, but God is also just and holy and righteous. But to preach a God of wrath and hate is to preach a God not found in the New Testament. God is Love and therefore God wants us to love one another and to love God. Therefore God wants us to act lovingly, in accordance with the will of the God who is Love. That doesn't mean accepting anything, or just being nice. It can mean saying the hard things - but always in love.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/20/2006 04:40:00 AM  

  • Re: Tolerance

    Tolerance can mean two things, which often causes confusion. It can mean that we don't worry about differences and say that they don't matter. Or it can mean that we think that differences matter a lot, but that we needn't hate one another because of them.

    The first of these is what Chesterton objects to. The problem is that it's the second that many Christians would claim to be a real virtue, and the one that Mark was talking about. The problem comes when objection to the first sort of tolerance (which is really apathy) becomes objection to the second sort (which is really love).

    Getting the two confused is a mistake.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/20/2006 04:44:00 AM  

  • To change and debate issues that are secondary non-essentials-ie: not direct teachings from God (marriage is a direct teaching/sexuality) is perfectly appropriate.

    These non-essential teachings are not directly tied to salvation, or a walk with Christ, but rather methods of worship, religiousness of a church, etc.

    However, to suggest allowing or promoting activites that are diametrically opposed to the Biblical teachings of Christ, suggest nothing but apostasy.

    Tolerance, in the way it is utilized today, means one thing-promotion. For Christians to "tolerate" certain sins means much more than accept the people committing them, which we are all required to do. Tolerance (see links in mrshammer's false convert posts) seeks to promote anti-christian views, that will then permeate the church.

    I have a new post on my blog about apostasy. It is more exhaustive than I wanted to get into here. However, it is hard to say that any deviation from the essential and secondary essential teachings are anything less than apostasy.

    Quiz, which period in history was the most biblically aligned with apostasy to promote homogeneous beliefs in Christianity, and "less divisivness" which is biblically said to be quite important in Christianity when seperating fact vs fiction, and heresy vs sound doctrine.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/20/2006 10:40:00 AM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "Tolerance, in the way it is utilized today, means one thing-promotion"

    No, promotion is quite different to tolerance. Promotion is saying "This is good, go and do it". Tolerance is saying "Even though you do this thing that I dislike, I will put up with you".

    Most particularly, though, if someone tells you what they mean when they use a word, don't tell them that they actually mean something else! That's both disrespectful and pointless - no one knows what they mean better than they do.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 7/20/2006 11:20:00 AM  

  • No disrespect intended, John. One can look at the links mrshammer provided-Churches standing under the name of Christ, like the Methodist church, likely list those sites as promotions to "aid tolerance."

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 7/20/2006 03:20:00 PM  

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