In Good Faith
To answer this question we first need to define who a Christian is.
A Christian is a disciple of Christ as one who submits to Christ as their Lord. We also need to understand what tolerance means. Webster defines it as ‘a willingness to accept there are feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different than your own.’
Synonyms for tolerance are forbearance, mercy and patience. Unfortunately, that’s not how most people view tolerance today; rather, the ‘politically correct’ definition of tolerance means to consider everyone’s beliefs, values and lifestyles as equally valid. The difference is the beliefs are ‘equally valid’, which creates a great problem.
First, it defies reason, because it suggests all beliefs are equally true. If you believe two plus two equals four and your friend believes two plus two equals five, one of you is wrong. Second, being politically correct assumes people have a right to not be offended. Yet, truth is always offensive when it stands in opposition to a lie.
So is Christianity intolerant?
If we use the ‘politically correct’ definition of tolerance, yes indeed. In fact, today, it is very intolerant to say Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; and no one can get to God except through Him (John 14:6).
It is also intolerant to state that there is no other name under heaven other than Jesus by which a person can be saved (Acts 4:12). It is intolerant to say that there is only one true God (John 17:3). Jesus was intolerant of hatred when He said, “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27).
Jesus was intolerant of prejudice when He gave the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
Jesus was very intolerant of religious hypocrisy and false teachers. He was intolerant of pride, rebellion, sin, covetousness, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, fornicating and murder.
On the other hand if we use a dictionary definition, then Christianity is also very tolerant.
The Bible teaches Christians to be very forgiving (Matt. 18:21-22), to be patient and kind (Gal. 5:22-23), and to be honest and wholesome (Phil. 4:6-8). Jesus taught us to love and to be examples of kindness and truth in the world. Jesus, Himself, demonstrated the greatest love and patience with those who were guilty of all the things He is intolerant of, even submitting to the death of the cross as a payment for sin He was intolerant of. Yet, Jesus never condoned sin but would rather say, “Go and sin no more!” (John 8:11)
Whether or not Christianity is intolerant lies in who Jesus is, what He claimed and what He did. If what Jesus said and did is true, then Christianity isn’t intolerant at all. It is simply truth!
Truth is, in its definition, intolerant of falsehood; just as light is intolerant of darkness.
If Christianity is not true then Jesus is not God, He didn’t do miracles, He didn’t die and rise from the dead after three days and He will not come again to judge every person by His truth. If He did do these things as He has told us, Christianity is true and Christians must follow Christ as the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
Maybe we should ask this question, “Are non-Christians, who preach tolerance and accuse Christians of intolerance, by the very point of their message intolerant themselves?”
Doesn’t this suggest a message of intolerance to truth itself or anyone who values Christianity as truth? As a Christian I believe Christ is truth and He said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
Scott Dibbet is pastor of the Lacombe Free Reformed Church.