Too Much Tolerance?
Tolerate. To recognize and respect the rights, beliefs, practices, of others. To allow without prohibiting or opposing. To put up with or endure. Tolerance is the subject I've heard on just about everyone's top ten list lately. Everyone wants his or her beliefs to be tolerated.
To me, it sounds a little silly. Would you take it as a compliment if a friend walked up to you and said, "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I tolerate you"? I wouldn't. I'd be more apt to give them a sideways glance and say, "Gee, thanks." Complete tolerance is impossible. Everyone is bound to not respect something someone else believes.
You may wonder why I care enough to write about this. This is where I mention that I'm a Christian. Don't groan and say, "Not one of THOSE people again." I'm speaking for myself like a lot of people do in a column, and not for any of the Christian organizations on campus. I'm asking you to read what I have to say, without simply "allowing it without opposing it" as if it had nothing to do with you. I'm not asking you to start a riot either. I'm asking for your side, because we all have one. Blitz me, argue with me, write a response, but don't ignore me.
In other columns in the D, I've read about how hypocritical all Christians are. How proud we are that we're saved and those poor pagans aren't. How intolerant we are to other religions and lifestyles. I'd like to address some of these concerns. Personally, I feel sorry for the people who list themselves as Christian but don't follow what God outlines for us in the Bible. What purpose does it serve to say you believe in a loving, righteous being who came to earth, died for our wrongdoings and conquered death, but not to act the way He would like us to? There was a time I acted this way, but it was because I didn't understand what I believed in. Now I do, and I finally realized what I was missing. I hope the hypocritical Christians you know discover this as well.
Next -- the pride issue. This is also a stereotype of Christians and how we act. If I noticed that I was acting better than someone else, I would pray and ask God to forgive me. Christianity isn't about being smug -- it's about choosing whom we believe is the one true God. It's about being humble in the face of that God and acknowledging that compared to his power and goodness, we are nothing. It's about accepting the gift of His love for us. It's about letting other people know about that love. Believe it or not, our goal is not to make you realize your life is miserable so that we can convert you. It's about spreading what we believe is the truth. We don't want you to go to hell. At least, I don't.
Drumroll, please. The section you've all been waiting for. Are Christians intolerant? In my opinion, atheists are more intolerant that we are. I believe that there are some truths to other religions, but I don't believe that they are all completely true. Atheists reject all religious beliefs. To be a little more serious, I think we need to look at a bigger question to figure out whether Christians are intolerant because it involves our belief system. That question is Is the God that Christians believe in intolerant? Some people would say yes, because He obviously rejects the possibility of any other religion being true. In the Bible, Jesus Christ claims that God so loved the world that He gave His only son (Jesus), so that whoever believes in him will not die, but have everlasting life. Jesus also claims that he is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can get to the father (God) except through him. (References to the New Testament Book of John, Chapter 3, verse 16, and Chapter 14, verse 6) These statements leave no room for doubt that God knows the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Hence, all other religions must be false.
I want to challenge you to discover for yourself whether the God of the Bible is intolerant instead of listening to what you hear from other people. There's an academic lecture tonight, 8 p.m., Silsby 28 on whether God is intolerant or not. I'll be there. Will you?