Recently I’ve had a lot of exposure to Christian intolerance through the news, friends, etc. Due to this, my thoughts about Christianity have been a bit confusing. So, I decided to do a Google search for Christianity teaches tolerance. One article in particular caught my eye. Note: sections taken from the article will be indented.
The definition of intolerant: Not tolerant, especially:
- Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.
- Opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different from oneself, especially those of a different racial, ethnic, or social background.
- Unable or unwilling to endure or support: intolerant of interruptions; a community intolerant of crime.
The really remarkable thing about the definition of intolerant is that those who say we Christians are intolerant and should not express our religious beliefs are the ones who actually fit the definition. Tolerance is not about accepting every one else’s beliefs, but merely being willing to listen to those beliefs. In contrast to many other religious beliefs, evangelical Christians rate quite high on the scale of being willing to discuss religious beliefs on a moment’s notice.
Evangelical Christians are more willing to discuss beliefs, yes. But, this article says tolerance is about being willing to listen. Therefore, would I conclude that if you’re not willing to listen to an evangelical Christian talk, then you’re considered lacking in tolerance? I wonder what happens to this rule when roles are reversed…
Christianity is the prime example why all religions cannot be true. Virtually every other world religion, other than Christianity, teaches that a person can become acceptable to God on the basis of their actions in life. In contrast, Christianity teaches that no person, no matter what they do, can become acceptable to God through their own actions. In Christianity, acceptance by God is based upon the completed work of Jesus Christ, through belief that His sacrifice makes us acceptable. Therefore, Christianity and other religions cannot all be simultaneously true, since they teach opposite ideas about how one becomes acceptable to God. A Christian cannot accept other belief systems as being true and still maintain his own belief system, since they are directly contradictory.
If Christianity is the prime example, then would it not then be prudent to think that another religion would be more suitable? I’m also confused as to how one is to be accepted by God through Jesus Christ if Christianity bases acceptance on something other than one’s actions; this paragraph implies that even if I do accept Jesus Christ, which is an action, then I am not acceptable by God. Also, if the Bible is up to interpretation, how can anyone be sure what one’s own Christian belief system should be? How do you know if you are in contradiction with the strict guidelines laid out by a book of poetry that has been written and rewritten and interpreted and re-interpreted by Man inspired by God and not directly by God??
The Christian is most often claimed to be “intolerant” when he refuses to accept and speaks out against “alternative lifestyles,” such as cohabitation or homosexual behavior. Again, this is an improper use of the word “intolerant.” Tolerance does not require acceptance of all ideas as being true, but merely a willingness to hear alternative beliefs. Those who say that Christians should not express their beliefs are actually the ones who are being intolerant, since they are unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression to Christian beliefs.
Again, this paragraph causes further confusion, yet helps to support the point I made earlier about intolerance. Additionally, I do not recall any of my gay friends or friends who are living with their lovers begging me to accept them as living with the correct lifestyle. For most people, their lifestyle is correct for them and not for anyone else. Just as one’s religion is private and only for that one person, so is anyone’s way of living.
The supposed intolerance of Christians is a direct result of the teachings of its founder Jesus Christ, who, today, would be described as one of the most “intolerant” people to live. Although Jesus was loving and associated with all kinds of people, He was not “tolerant” of their “alternative lifestyles.” Jesus confronted immoral behavior directly, and even had the audacity to tell people to stop practicing their sinful behavior. In addition, Jesus commanded his followers to “make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,” and “preach the gospel to all creation.” Jesus did not say to accept other religions as being true. In fact, He made one of the most “intolerant” statements that any religious leader has ever made:Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. (John 14:6)This statement alone reveals that all other religions and religious ideas cannot be true. No religion other than Christianity claims that Jesus is the only way to God. Therefore, either Jesus was telling the truth and He is the only way to God or He was a liar and Christianity is false.
It is highly ironic that this article would put so much emphasis on Jesus as being king of intolerance, when no one has any real idea what he did for close to 20 years of his life. It may be recorded that Jesus confronted others about their sinful behavior, but it was also recorded that he defended those who would be punished for their sins (see John 8:1-11). He may have made the quoted statement, but can we trust something that has been rewritten more than any other religious account? If that statement reveals the falsehood of every other religion, how are we to truly believe in the Bible when even the Old Testament conflicts with the New Testament? If the one true religion is Christianity and that religion follows the teachings of Christ, why is the Old Testament even included?
If Jesus is not a liar, then it is altogether possible that his words were embellished, added to, even downright made up by those in power, including King James who, though a fool who was terrible with money, was the first to get an English copy of the Bible approved. There is no knowing of how much was changed from the original.
We must all be tolerant of other ideas, not beliefs. One cannot be closed to the possibility of anything that could have happened during Jesus’s teens and 20’s that isn’t recorded in the Bible. For all anyone knows, he could have spent it studying with Monks in Tibet, as many historians speculate. Look here, here, and here. Notice I’m including not only information that supports this idea but also information that points out discrepancies. I see that no where in any of the so-called “Christian” web sites today.
If tolerance means being blinded by one’s own self-righteousness, shutting your ears to ideas that oppose your own, and spouting your own personal truth to others using one person’s interpretation of a religious text to back up your argument, then yes, some Christians I know are tolerant. However, my version of tolerance includes patient listening, the desire for knowledge no matter where it comes from, and, most importantly, the freedom to decide what I will believe and will not believe according to that research. I am sad to say that I cannot apply this comment to many others of the Christian persuasion.
Having said all this, I do know many Christians who are very loving people. They are tolerant of others, they “do their homework” and search for answers using non-Christian based sources. Some of them are homosexual, believe in abortion, are Democrats, oppose war in the Middle East, or plain don’t believe in the Jesus portrayed in the Bible. Because of any one of these facts, others would consider them sinners. But, as Jesus said, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”