The Hypocrisy of the New Tolerance

Posted: May 22, 2014 in Ethics, Uncategorized
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Image via 499716-oh-so-i-m-a-judgmental-hypocrite-how-so-very-non-judgmentally-hypocritical-of-you

It is becoming nearly impossible for Christians to express an opposing viewpoint in the public square, thanks mostly to the redefinition of a very important word in our society: “tolerance”.

The original definition of tolerance had three important statements:

“1) Permitting or allowing
2) a conduct or point of view one disagrees with
3) while respecting the person in the process.” (1)

This whole process assumes disagreement over an idea. It is amusing, as well as frustrating, to be attacked personally with ad hominem attacks by people who are proclaiming tolerance.

The new definition of tolerance basically means:

1) accepting and embracing
2) a conduct or point of view which one can never disagree with,
3) while never respecting the person who transgresses point 1and 2.

It was Peter Kreeft who penned this little ditty:

“Be egalitarian regarding persons.
Be elitist regarding ideas.”

As a culture, the “spiritual not religious” crowd has turned this statement on its ear. From simple observation, one gets the idea that we are to be elitist towards persons, and egalitarian towards ideas.

I realize there have been Christians guilty of personal attacks against individuals, but in this author’s humble opinion, most Christians are only guilty of being elitist towards ideas. We are very aware of how painful it is to be labeled by the intellectually-lazy. It’s easy to hurl personal insults. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to do the homework necessary to engage someone honestly and civilly with an opposing view.

At the center of this redefinition is moral relativism. There is no objective moral truth. All points of view are equally valid, unless you disagree that all points of view are equally valid.

The other word that is hurled at Christians who believe in objective moral truth is “judgmental”. We are constantly being labeled judgmental, simply for the fact that we consider certain ethical and moral precepts to be binding on all people. Most of the time, these same precepts were considered normative less than a generation ago. Simply telling someone they’re wrong is enough to elicit outrage. Chastising someone for lack of self-control, either in their behavior or their language is equivalent to physical assault. We are “shoving religion down someone’s throat” for pointing out that said someone is morally responsible to God and man for their behavior. Cultural totalitarianism is setting us up for governmental totalitarianism.

The group most guilty of this “reverse intolerance” are the dabblers in religion. These are the “spiritual not religious”, who like to partake of superficial tidbits of the various religions of the world, without committing to any particular faith. They love to quote religious platitudes, but refuse to wrestle with the truth claims of the various religions. They post religious memes, but denigrate religious creeds. Their religion is “kindness”, but their attitude towards those with objective morals is anything but kind.

In light of this, I leave you with a few quotes that communicate my point in a much more eloquent manner.

“Judgment works both ways… If love means never making a judgment, shouldn’t that go both ways? It’s impossible to be neutral on important ethical issues.”
-Melinda Penner, Stand To Reason Blog

“A judicial action, a factual assessment, a hypocritical arrogance — all are judgments. Only the third is disqualified by Jesus. The first two are actually virtues in their proper settings and therefore commanded by Scripture. Those are the scriptural facts.”
-Gregory Koukl, Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions

“Most of what passes for tolerance today is nothing more than intellectual cowardice, a fear of intelligent engagement. Those who brandish the word “intolerant” are unwilling to be challenged by other views or grapple with contrary opinions, or even to consider them. It’s easier to hurl an insult—”you intolerant bigot”—than to confront an idea and either refute it or be changed by it. In the modern era, “tolerance” has become intolerance.”
-Greg Koukl, “The Intolerance of Tolerance”,

“It is better to be divided by Truth, than to be united in error. It is better to speak the Truth that hurts and then heals, than to speak a lie that will comfort and then kill. It is better to be hated for telling the Truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the Truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. Better to ultimately die with the Truth, than to live with a lie.”
-Adrian Rogers

“These days it’s not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture today to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.”
-Ravi Zacharias

“It is fashionable these days to claim to be spiritual but not religious. And why not? The dictionary tells us that the word religion stems from two Latin roots re + ligare, the latter of which means to bind, to tie up. To be religious means to bind oneself to a particular body of beliefs of which one is not the author. It means to accept that one is personally bound to a way of life and faith to which one submits or, more scandalously, to which one has been committed by others, most notably by one’s parents or sponsors at baptism.

This binding character of religion is difficult for our contemporaries to make sense of, given the modern predilection for attaching personal obligations to the voluntary principle and the concomitant suspicion of all duties we have not freely assumed. We would prefer to go up to the spiritual smorgasbord, sampling a little of “the Quran, Black Elk, Lao-tse or Starhawk” without actually becoming a committed Muslim, Native Spiritist, Taoist or earth goddess worshipper. Many of us like to dabble in exotic spiritualities without having to identify with any one of them.”

1. Koukl, Gregory. “Gregory Koukl – The Intolerance of Tolerance.” Townhall, 14 Dec. 2006. Web. 22 May 2014.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams


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