Worshiping the god of Tolerance: Tolerance is one of those words like “love” that has a variety of meanings. Some okay and some not so okay. Tolerance is a virtue when one means listening quietly to another’s opinions, not necessarily agreeing, but without bigotry or prejudice. It is a vice (code word for sin) when used as Isaiah (5:2) did - “when we call evil good and good evil”. Is the latter a problem in our society? Charles Colson thinks so and I quote from his book, Faith, Zondervan Press, pp 68, 69. “When the God of the Bible is rejected, people choose a new god. The postmodern age has anointed secular tolerance as its god. Tolerance once meant listening respectfully to all points of view, freely discussed in our common search for the truth. But the creed for the new god of tolerance is that knowing truth is impossible. So everyone is free to think and act as he likes, with one exception: those who have the audacity to believe they know the truth, particularly if they think God has revealed it to them, are not tolerated. The result is that those who crowned the new god of tolerance have become the absolute arbiters of culture. The new god of tolerance becomes, in the guise of liberalism, an absolute tyrant.”
Is it really happening in our society today? Before you answer that think about the following: our society condones, even legalizes in some cases, a whole litany of sins under the guise of being tolerant. Same sex marriage, murder of the unborn (abortion), the legal use and availability of drugs for recreational use, sex education of the very young in public schools, and the acceptance of foul language by our media are some of the more prominent sins that have come about in the wake of our emphasis on being tolerant or politically correct.
A second cousin to this sinful kind of tolerance (calling “evil good and good evil”) is the sin of judgmentalism. The two - toleration of sin and judgmentalism - always have a tendency to occur together. Recently our pastor (Steve Delay, Faith Bible Church) delivered a series of sermons challenging our church for the year 2011. One sermon was entitled “Being a church of love not of judgment”. He emphasized that we are mandated to be between good and evil and in fact “discernment” is one of the gifts of the gifts of the Spirit. See I Corinthians 12:10. We are also to be lovingly respectful of the opinions of others. We are not called to pass judgment on whether someone’s heart is right with god or not, or how they raise their kids, or spend their money, or their motives, or how they interpret Scripture, etc. These twin sins - condoning evil and judgmentalism - are grievous sins in God’s eyes, and are blatant perversions of the biblical standards of morality. Jesus had some very stern words for the legalists of His day, the Pharisees, concerning judging. See Matthew 7:3, 4.
So is this god of tolerance worshipped only in our anti-god secular humanistic society? Unfortunately, not! Colson pointed out with “postmodernism” their is diminishing of moral standards and of absolute truth in our society. Is this mind set existent in our churches today? I believe the evidence answers that in the affirmative. How often have you heard some otherwise benevolent person tell you “That’s just what you think” or “you can’t impose your biblical views on others” or, even worse, in discussions their becoming personally hostile in expressing their disagreements.
Does society (and the church) need to repent of these sins - toleration of evil and judgmentalism. Most definitely. Do we as believers need to orchestrate this? No! We don’t and we can’t. Our responsibility is the “keep the weeds out of our row of corn” and to proactively walk more obediently and closely with God each day. Most of us are acutely aware of what God requires of us in order to be in intimate fellowship with Him: regular personal worship, effectual fervent prayer, serious Bible study, and being “salt and light: in our corner of the world of within our sphere of influence, making certain that neither of these sins gains a foothold in our lives.
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Paul Williams is a retired veterinarian, having practiced in Indiana for 41 years, lived in Drummond Island, Michigan for eight years and in Marietta for seven years. He and his wife, Pat, attend Faith Bible Church in Williamstown. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. To participate call 376-5446.