We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tolerance: the Good, Bad, & Ugly

In a recent posting entitled, "Tolerance: The New American Religion," a Christian Post commentator takes to task Christians who believe in what he believes to be the secular, unfaithful new religion of tolerance.  He assigns their tolerant attitudes to ignorance of scripture, fear, and idolatry.  he concludes, "Tolerance is not love, the Cross is. I think it is time we let God define love and stop relying on Man’s worldly definition."

If anything, the author sounds like a liberal—in the sense that liberals criticize people of his persuasion in pretty much the same way he criticizes them.  Progressive Christians feel that fundamentalists in particular and evangelicals in general are ignorant of the true meaning of the gospel, practice a fear-based religiosity, and turn the Bible and faith into idols.  Liberal Christians have even coined the word, "bibliolatry," to make that last point.

There is no question.  The author of this posting has virtually no clue how those of us who advocate openness to others and a non-dualistic approach to faith understand our faith.  But, that's not my point here.  My point is that both of the warring camps among Christians today tend to treat those in the other camp the way this author treats people of a progressive faith.  Until that changes, postings like this one and any rebuttal of it are a waste of time and energy.  They change nothing.  They may serve to "gin up the base," but that only promotes the failure to understand each other within Christian circles, which brings us so much discredit in society at large.  All too often, we are our own worst enemies.  We are obstacles to the work of the Spirit rather than channels.

There is one point in the author's article on tolerance, however, that I would like to take exception to here.  He is incorrect in his statement that, "The problem with Tolerance is it doesn’t lead anyone to repentance." If we truly value a Christ-like tolerance we are led led precisely and exactly to repentance. Far too often, we fail to practice what we value and what we preach to others, and we do need to repent.  Amen.