A Reasoned Faith

When Tolerance is not Tolerance

There are those who view the Christian Faith as intolerant, even narrow-minded, because of the exclusive message of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet those who see Christianity as intolerant have simply not understood the message. Often the very people who point a critical finger at Christianity are actually guilty of the same thing they criticize… intolerance. But they would not see intolerance as a two-way street… after all, they are the open-minded ones, right?

It’s useful to examine some of the arguments of those who think Christians are intolerant or narrow-minded.

Jesus can’t be the only way to God… There are many different religions in the world, all followed by many intelligent educated people.

So the presupposition is moral relativism, that whatever beliefs people follow makes them all equally valid, as there is no objective truth. But does choice of belief make those beliefs valid in themselves? The moral relativist would likely say that it’s irrelevant whether we think those other beliefs are invalid. However, one would have to be willing to not think critically, in order to ignore the contradictions in each belief system. If truth is relative, and each belief system teaches things about God which are contradictory to the other, it becomes illogical to say they are all right. Moral relativism will easily implode on itself when examined.

Miracles can’t happen… The world operates according to observable laws of nature meaning that miracles simply cannot occur. Regardless there is no evidence to suggest either that they do or that they ever did.

A presupposition here is that miracles have to fit within particular observable natural laws, but that they can’t… based on, what? This is circular reasoning. Somewhat similar to saying “the earth is round, so it’s not possible for pigs to fly”. The reasoning that ‘observable laws of nature’ defy miracles does not quantify anything. Sounds more like the skeptic simply does not want to believe a miracle can happen. Where’s the open-mindedness here? The tolerance for other possibilities?

A good God wouldn’t send people to Hell… An allegedly omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God has seemingly freely chosen to sentence most human beings to hell. Why? Should such a God (if he exists) be trusted?

The presupposition that God’s character (if He exists) should be based on what we personally think is a definition of ‘good’. Should God let rebellious, blasphemous, immoral people into His glorious kingdom? Yet Christians are intolerant to believe people need to repent of their sins and receive redemption in Christ to go into eternal life?

The God of the Bible is a moral monster and restricts human freedom… God, particularly as depicted in the Old Testament, is a vengeful, genocidal… megalomaniac who does not act morally. Furthermore his restrictions on such things as sexual behaviour, abortion and euthanasia are undermining of human autonomy.

The presupposition is that humans should be free to make our own choices, whatever that leads to, without question or consequence. This is another form of moral relativism, but is actually outright anarchy. Also it’s intolerant of Christians to want to preserve the lives of the vulnerable (unborn babies, those with disabilities)? It’s intolerant of Christianity to teach self-control in our sexuality and expect that of others? If society followed the Bible’s moral standards, it would mean a significant drop in cases of STD’s and abortions… and euphanasia (assisted suicide).

Having an objective moral standard is seen as intolerant. Having a subjective, “whatever feels good for me” standard is seen as good. But which is really the harmful approach when examined? We are told in the holy Bible:-

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

Going our own subjective ways keeps us in darkness.

Following the One who said “I AM the light of the world…” guides us on the straight path of true enlightenment. As Christ-followers, loving Jesus – who teaches us to love our neighbour as ourselves, we should always be tolerant of people who choose not to believe as we do… Jesus forced no one to follow Him.

But we should never be so open-minded that we leave our ability to reason behind, and end up with a shipwrecked faith. If we truly love our neighbour, we can’t honestly pretend that whatever one believes doesn’t matter. It’s like a particular church which decided to host a celebration of the ‘prophet’ Mohammed’s birthday. To celebrate a person or belief system which denies that Jesus was crucified for our sins, in order to be seen as tolerant of all beliefs, means that church has lost the understanding of the significance of who Christ Jesus is and why He came. It makes no sense for the thinking, Bible-reading Christian.

Let’s not leave our God-given brains by the wayside.

7 thoughts on “When Tolerance is not Tolerance”

  1. Agreed, and with your ending statement of acquiescence to the ‘prophet’ Mohammad who declares that Christ was never crucified (contrary to widely undisputed historical evidence) fails to stem the leak on outright fraud and lies by going one degree to far on the tolerance scale, and thus laying seeds of confusion to those who are seeking truth.


  2. Tolerance? Umm. I’m reminded of a book I read at school called Animal Farm. In the story the Animal over took the farm from the farm owners hoping for their own Utopia. However, two pigs battled for the farm. The ‘capitalist’ pig and the ‘marxist’ pig. The Marxist pig wins. His famous words ‘we are all equal but some of us are more equal than others’. My point is – how can society cater for everyone’s needs without offending another group. All ‘groups are tolerable, but some groups are more tolerable than others’ – I guess that’s where we’re heading. And that’s the problem with moral relativism. Everybody is right. But that doesn’t make sense. We can’t all be right. So instead of focusing on tolerance, we need to focus on Truth. Truth only found in the Bible. Moral relativism will eventually lead to anarchy. And the only way to control anarchy is to have some sort of restrictive political regime such as communism. A society built on Truth from a Christian world view perspective is what we need.


  3. Very strong arguments, especially around the idea of our concept of ‘good’. Never understood why someone who doesn’t believe in God, nor want to worship Him continually would want to go to heaven.


  4. I liked this post but did not agree with the last paragraph. Did you know Muslims do believe in and have much reverance for Jesus? He serves as an example of faith to them as well. His life and death are noted in the Koran. A book that also is based on the Old Testament.


    1. Hi. Thanks for your comments. On the surface it may seem that way but not if you carefully look into what Islam does actually teach. Persecution of converts to Christ Jesus happens a lot in muslim-majority countries, even to the point of death. Look at Iran, Pakistan, Egypt etc. You won’t find much tolerance for those who decide they don’t want to be in Islam any more. Islamic teaching is clear on that. Happy to discuss what it means to live for Christ in a pluralistic world, but I don’t have a romantic view of any religion. I appreciate you taking time to comment. Please look out for new posts in due course.


      1. This is true but that is not all Muslims, so it is not right to generalize as followers of Christ. Every person must account and will account for their deeds. We must lead by example and choosing to look down on another entire group based on actions of some members is not the way in my opinion. I do agree that anyone using violence to assert religious dominance is wrong. The Christians being killed in the Middle East is heartbreaking. But it’s not all. Remember the Crusades did the same horrendous deeds and they were done by Christians. Thank you for the reply.


      2. Hi ‘Dinnovative’. I refer you back to the main point of my blog post. It was never about focusing on Muslims, so please read it again. I simply used an example to make a particular point towards the end of my post. My purpose is to neither sympathise with different religions, or to attack individuals personally. Jesus calls us to follow Him and make disciples…. and I wrote about some of the challenges followers of Christ do face from those who view the Christian faith as narrow or intolerant. Please don’t lose the main point of my blog because of your personal sympathies. I am happy to post any future comments you make which stick to the focus of my posts, but you are going way off topic in this case and commenting on what I am not saying. If we are Christians in the true sense – followers of Christ Jesus, we will want to be obedient to lovingly win others to Christ from all religions and the non-religious, despite the opposition we can face. God bless you.


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