February 6, 2006

Tolerance

Bono, from the rock group U2, spoke at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Here are his remarks. You can also read another article at Christianitytoday.com.

Some see Bono as the latest rock and roll Christian prophet. He speaks out on issues of justice and poverty. Scripture seems to be the basis upon which he gets his call to see justice in a world gone wild.

Others see Bono and others from the postmodern/emergent church as nothing more than tolerance-preaching, wishy-washy people who want nothing more than to water down the Gospel.

So the question is, “What is tolerance?” As many would define it, tolerance is accepting every opinion and religious belief as equally valid. They place Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and other world religions on the same playing field. Bono sparked these remarks when he called for everyone of all faiths to work together to speak to the poor.

But for me tolerance simply means allowing people of other faiths and ideologies to exist at the same time. To be tolerant does not mean that I accept their view as the “Truth.” But because I believe God is Truth, I allow them to exist freely and peaceably. (By this I do not mean that the alternative is to destroy the other.) Being tolerant does not mean I syncretize their beliefs into my own. It does not mean I accept their beliefs as Truth.

On a side note, in our American culture if we as Christians try to limit the free speech and existence of other groups we are actually paving the way for others to limit us. When we try to limit the rights of others, we are setting things up for others to limit us.

To be tolerant is not in opposition to my beliefs as a Christian; it is because of my beliefs as a Christian. Sinful human nature says that the “other” cannot be allowed to exist in opposition to me. It says that anything that contradicts me should be excluded and abhorred. Sinful human nature destroys anything that is unknown and unaccepted.

But Jesus says to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt and use us. The example of loving the neighbor, for the Jewish audience, was a hated Samaritan. Many have vilified those who want to allow the “other” to exist. Agreeing to work together with other religions toward a world of peace is seen as treason to the Christian faith. This should not be.

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