, has discovered that “Nearly nine out of ten young outsiders (87 percent) said that the term judgmental accurately describes present-day Christianity.” An outsider is just that, not a Christian and outside the church (of another faith tradition or no faith tradition at all). This group goes from late teens to about thirty. Now what is obvious is that Christianity has an image problem….but are we intolerant? Is it a good thing if we are?
Depends on what you mean by intolerant. There is some confusion and equivocation on the terms today—though intolerance is "public sin number 1." Here is an observation by Dallas Willard
that will bring this confusion into sharp relief:
“Tolerance has suffered a great deal recently in our religious and political and educational areas. And tolerance, because truth has been pulled away from it, has slipped over into the idea that everything is equally right. No longer is tolerance a matter of saying, “I disagree with you and I believe you’re wrong, but I accept you and I extend to you the right to be wrong.” That’s not enough. We’re now in the situation where everyone must be equally right, where you cannot claim that people are wrong and still love them.”
The new tolerance is that everything must be equally right or true.
The classical view of tolerance means, I disagree with you, here is why, and I treat you with dignity respect (i.e., lovingly communicating truth).
As Christians we can’t help but make truth claims (because God has and revealed them to humanity in His word), but if we are obnoxious, hateful, arrogant, condescending, etc. then shame on us!!! But claiming that everything can’t be true at the same time is not intolerant. We are Christ’s ambassadors and we need to remember that (2 Cor. 5:20).
Check out these resources to learn more:
- The Case for Civility by Os Guinness
- The Truth about Tolerance by Stetson and Conti
- True for You but not for Me by Paul Copan