Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On Being Intolerant

We live in an age that is opposed to any kind of intolerance when it comes to beliefs or behavior. Far from being tolerant, this view is incredibly intolerant toward those who are not as tolerant as it is. This is rooted in the idea that truth and morality are relative and that whatever works for you is acceptable. But does this view make sense? If truth is relative, then it is impossible to know if I am sitting in front of my computer in Salt Lake City, Utah, walking on Waikiki beach in Hawaii, looking down on Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, or all three at the same time. We do not believe truth is relative on the practical level. Would you ride in an airplane built based on this principle? If this makes no sense in the physical realm, why do we think it makes sense in the spiritual and moral realm? 

Now Christianity is based on the idea that there is one God, who alone is to be worshiped (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Isaiah 43:10-13; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). That Jesus Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). That there is a definite plan of salvation that we must put our faith in to be saved (Galatians 1:8,9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-20; Romans 1:16,17). That while God forgives sin, there is a clear-cut moral standard for defining right and wrong (Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 7:12-25; James 2:8-17). All of this runs against the grain of our whole modern mindset. But it also fits in with what we find in the rest of life. If I get up in the morning and put the key in my car’s ignition and turn it on, I expect it to start. If it does not, I take it to the auto mechanic to be fixed. I do not simply shake my head and say, “Hey, no big deal; it does that sometimes.” 

The truth is, if we honestly look at ourselves we will find out we fall short of fulfilling, not only the standard of God, but even our own moral standards (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). Further, we live in a world full of trouble and heartache (Romans 8:18-25; John 16:33; Revelation 21:4). Now if we believe that we and this present world are great just the way they are, then relative truth is the thing most likely to see to it that things remain just the way they are. If truth is relative, then there is no basis for advocating any kind of change, for all conditions of the world are equal. But if we are going to change things, then we need a definite idea of what is good and what is bad. We need to understand what the universe is like and what it should be like. Otherwise, we are simply spinning our wheels.

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