Religious Objections–2


I’d been a member of a particular writers critique group for some time. Nice people. I began to feel at home, even though all in the group didn’t share my religious beliefs. At one of the meetings, I’d submitted a piece about my walkabout in SW China with three Christian friends. Two of the other writers in the group objected to my “judgmental” comments about Buddhists … said I was being intolerant. A pause while everyone looked at me.

I said, “Aren’t we supposed to be evaluating the writing—not the content, unless it’s incoherent?”

“Well … yes, but you’re being negative. Some people might be offended …”

“You mean I don’t have a right to my opinion?” My forehead began to throb, ever so slightly. “Well, I do believe Christianity is superior to Buddhism—for many reasons. That’s my opinion. I’ve said nothing about the occasional coarse language in some of your manuscripts because that’s how you portray your characters. But some of it has offended me …”

I don’t recall what was said next but I do remember one person later apologized. Not that I needed an apology. But the incident stuck in my mind. Tolerance—again raised as a supreme virtue.

My idea of a single “right” belief system flew against politically correct views of tolerance and “fairness.” I’d seen these pc views gain ascending currency in my workplace over the previous years, so it wasn’t a complete surprise.

But was my claim of Christianity as the only true faith so bad? Why can’t I believe in the God of the Bible without being told that my religion is “arrogant and narrow … intolerant.” The problem, I knew, is Christianity’s exclusivity. Jesus is The Only Way. Why shouldn’t I believe that?

Critics say that claiming my religion is superior to others is ethnocentric. Yet that very statement is ethnocentric. Our culture’s idea of tolerance is itself a very particular set of assumptions about what is then used as criteria to decide who society will or will not tolerate. Since when have the citizenry gotten a vote on what is true and what is not?

Truly, truth is the first casualty of this tolerance thinking. The idea that all points of view should receive equal treatment, regardless how absurd, is an example of the absurdity of unbridled tolerance. To put a finer point on it—tolerance is accorded a status of higher morality than morality itself. Then it is used to exclude and regulate.

John Locke was probably the first champion of this pernicious philosophy. He wrote in 1689 that “No opinions contrary to human society … are to be tolerated.” The problem, of course, is who decides which opinions are contrary to human society.

For those of us who reject tolerance as a guiding principle but depend on biblical standards of truth, we can expect intolerance from the self-appointed tolerance police. We are seen as “over-attached” to our religion or culture and thus beyond rational line of reasoning.

We will discuss more of this in future postings.

And, dear souls, to what idea(s) are you over-attached?


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Risking change/changing the risk and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Religious Objections–2

  1. Doris Minard says:

    Do you practice tolerance?
    Do you expect it?
    The Apostle Paul stood up for truth, but was gentle and respectful to those who were without.
    A hard road, demanding a thick skin. A narrow way but a blessed one.

  2. “The idea that all points of view should receive equal treatment, regardless how absurd, is an example of the absurdity of unbridled tolerance.”

    Hitting the nail on the head has always been a talent admired by those who can’t and by those who can. You hit the nail on the head with the above sentence.

  3. Glen Kirkendall says:

    I appreciate the summary statement you included while sharing your thoughts and beliefs. “Truly, truth is the first casualty of this tolerance thinking.” There are many who know and will continue to stand firm in the truth!

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Glen. Tho that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 is usually considered as the saints mentioned in Chapter 11, I believe it could well include others of this day who are encouraged by individual stalwarts standing for the truth. We are mutually supported by others joining with us for truth.

  4. Violet Whittaker says:

    The peoples of the world, since time began, have each decided what they want to believe about life’s values. They call themselves tolerant for their degrees of acceptance. They are “tolerant” (to be popular in the culture) about everything everyone should believe except Christianity itself (which is God’s truth). Isn’t it ironic that “tolerant people” are unable to accept the truth? It would certainly change their lives to a proper understanding of themselves.
    Never back off from the truth, Sam. They are the ones who need to learn the Truth.

    Violet Whittaker

  5. Tollerance is a two way street. These people have an agenda against Christianity. They are supposed to be liberal but they are not liberal. We put up with them but they won’t put up with us. Christianity has more to offer when it comes to the love and acceptance of everyone. We pray for them and are long suffering.

  6. Kathleen Oyler says:

    Christ was hung on the cross for his teachings. Why should we expect any different in our time?

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