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I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Athiest, Part 3

Our next post in the series against IDHEFTBAA (which is an incredibly annoying acronym to type out, but at least it's shorter than the title of the book) can be found here, and it takes a step back into the foreword of the book, written by David Limbaugh.  In it, Limbaugh speaks out against the hypocrisy of the "tolerance" preached by the left, claiming that it is not, in fact, tolerant at all, but often downright hostile toward Christians.  And, this time, our Professor actually has a very good point.  If Christians are going to claim tolerance for their views, they're going to have to tolerate other people's views as well.  In other words, if we demand tolerance for ourselves, we must be prepared to tolerate other views that conflict with ours.  Both Limbaugh and the Professor agree that tolerance does not necessarily mean accepting other beliefs, but allowing others to believe them without fear of harm as a result of that

Yet the Professor misses the point of LImbaugh's argument.   The point, which is clear to any Christian reading it, is that Christians are not always welcome, and their beliefs are not always tolerated.  While lip service may be given to the idea of tolerance when speaking of Christian views, because Christians are called to spread the Gospel and preach the Truth and therefore cannot simply "live and let live," often our views are not tolerated.  Ask any Christian you meet, and they will tell you that there have been times when, realizing that the Truth would not be tolerated, have kept silent when we should have spoken.  It's a common failing - and while the early Christians were willing to be ridiculed and even killed for these beliefs, we in America have become so complacent, so isolated from the war which Christianity is fighting against Satan, that we are not willing to suffer a little bit of humiliation because of our beliefs.  I'm as guilty as anyone else.  As vocal as I am here, in the safety and distance of the internet, I'm a wimp in real life.  If someone confronts me on my beliefs, I tend to back off and be submissive, not wanting to start a confrontation.  It's one of my biggest failings, and as much as it bothers me, as much as I struggle with it, I can't seem to do anything to change it.  I know that's something I need to work on.  But part of the outrage that we feel at being labeled "intolerant" is because, in the act of labeling someone thus (in the context of the connotation that word has taken on in our modern culture) is rather intolerant, and hypocrisy bothers us just as much as it does anyone else (unfortunately, it also infects us just as much as it does anyone else, but that's another story altogether). 

Actually, though, Christians are intolerant, when you think about it.  There are some things which should not be tolerated, and those are the things that are sinful.  Murder is one of them, and one on which everyone agrees (until you get so far back into the life of a person that he's not born yet - then for some reason people get this "out of sight, out of mind" mentality and assume it's suddenly ok to kill him... but again, that's another argument for another day).  And then there are things like homosexuality, which, according to the Christian world view, is sinful, and therefore should not be tolerated.  So of course we are against tolerating homosexual marriage.  It's sinful, and sin is not to be tolerated.  The problem I have with tolerance is not so much that Christians are not tolerated (that's to be expected) but that people actually think that tolerance is a viable way to run a society.

Think about it.  There are some things that are simply intolerable.  Murder, rape, theft, and arson are among them.  Society is worse off if those things are tolerated, and not even the tolerance advocates would disagree with that.  And yet, if you subscribe to the theory that individual preferences should be tolerated, who is to say that those things are exempt?  That's a very arbitrary distinction that you seem to be making on personal preference, and arbitrariness is not a good base on which to build society.  In fact, tolerance is something of a cop-out.  Rather than undertake the difficult process of discussing alternatives and deciding what is tolerable and what is not, or what a society can permit and what it cannot, people would rather take the lazy way out and "tolerate" all sorts of conflicting opinions.  It's an excuse to be lazy, quite simply - a way to escape thinking about difficult subjects, instead of tackling them.

So, I suppose my objection is to both the Professor and to Limbaugh - both are operating on the assumption that tolerance could somehow work as a viable means of running a society.  And, in the long run, it simply can't.



Ah, tolerance...

And, in the long run, it simply can't.

I think there's a false dichotomy being created here. On the one hand, the Christian says to the homosexual, when asked:

"Jesus said homosexuality is wrong, so you should turn from your sin, and repent to Him. I'll pray for you to do this, but in the mean time, I TOLERATE you."

Tolerate in this sense means while I disagree with you, I'll still love you, serve you, etc.

The homosexual, on the other hand, says:

"No decent person would actually think that Jesus is God and He's right and everyone else is wrong...IF you open your mind and drop this Jesus thing, I'll TOLERATE you."

Here, the category for "I'll disagree with you but I'll still love you" simply doesn't exist.

There's a profound difference, and it's what separates tolerance from the New Tolerance, which is tolerant of everything except intolerance.

If you get down to it, it comes back to the Imago Dei - only Christians, really, have reason to love people unconditionally as image bearers of God, so I suppose only a Christian really could be 'tolerant' in the truest sense.

Don Carson lectures on this idea a lot, someone taped it once and put it here (

Sorry for the long comment.


Re: Ah, tolerance...

No, that's good - I didn't think of it that way.

Actually I'm not terribly happy with this post at all - there was a lot I wanted to say but didn't remember, or it didn't come out right - but it can stay up anyway, because I'm too lazy to take it down. :)