Dan’s Online Diary 

# 5.11.03 by Dan
[Religious Tolerance]
Read this, and then read the following :
Dear Ms Misa,

In reading your column this morning, I get the distinct impression - please excuse and correct me if I am wrong - that you believe that being a Christian should equate to being tolerant.

A quick skim through the Bible should show that this is not the case, by any means.
In the first instance, the God of the Bible does not tolerate nor overlook disobedience to his Word in the slightest. Even among his own beloved and chosen people.

Jesus Christ, who is God himself, although he came to earth as a servant in meekness, humbling himself before humanity, even unto death on a cross, was not tolerant.
John 2:12-14 shows Jesus scattering coins and overturning the tables of those selling cattle and changing money in the temple at Jerusalem.
Jesus was intolerant to the point of saying to one of his disciples and closest friends, Peter, - "Get behind me, Satan!"(Mark 8:31-33). If you read the passage, Jesus had been trying to tell his disciples that he had come to be rejected by mankind, and to ultimately die at their hands. Peter received the above rebuke when he said to Jesus - "No - that will never happen".

But, as you quoted Kristof in your column, there is a division between intellectuals and the religious America (assuming Christianity is implied here).
And this has always been the case, and always will be.
You see, Peter, in his intellectualism, in the wisdom of man, thought that Christ's death would mean that everything he believed in was in vain. And so he rebuked Jesus for talking like that.
But Christ has the wisdom of God, and knew that He needed to die, as the perfect and once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sins of his people.
And as it has been since the time of Adam and Eve, right through to the present, and so it will continue on into the future, the wisdom of the world (the wisdom of the intellectuals) is always at odds with the wisdom of God (the wisdom that Christians pertain to).

A Christian is called to godliness, to be more Christ-like. This means a Christian should not be tolerant of anything that is contrary to God's law and command.

This intolerance however, should not be exercised for the sake of division, for the sake of creating oneself a holier-than-thou attitude, for the sake of advancing oneself. This intolerance is in the over-arching context of love. Love for ones neighbour, even love for ones enemy. For while we were His enemies, God sent his only Son to die for us.

I believe that a Christian who attempts to integrate with the intellectualism of mankind can only do so at the expense of godly wisdom, and is thereby rendered ineffective.

Being a Christian, 'High Level' or otherwise, is not about abstaining from the pleasures of life, for God has created all things, and these for our enjoyment when used according to His will.
Being a Christian is not striving for a degree of piety.

The 'good works', the helping of widows and orphans, the selfless giving of time and money to others etc etc - all these are side effects of an effective in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit within a believer. They have 'put on the life of Christ' and are acting 'as Christ to the world'.

Being a Christian is not about 'doing' anything. It is about acting in response to what has already been done for us by another, namely Christ.

Also, the incident in Sodom is merely one place in the Bible where sexual impropriety is mentioned. Read the first chapter of the book Romans - it says there that the wrath of God against the wickedness of man is worked out through God allowing man to be turned over to their own sinful desires. At the top of the list that is subsequently quoted is "women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
You can see that this is much more than a dispute over the translation of the place-name 'Sodom'.

Disobedience to God brings serious and dire consequences, many of which are becoming increasingly apparent in our society and culture, both globally and here in our own local communities. To ignore this fact is to turn from the wisdom of God to the wisdom of man - hence the polarisation you comment on - and reap the wrath of God.

I hope that this can help you understand why some Christians appear to be intolerant, but I hope also that you might see that their intolerance comes from a motivation of love, and a desire that others may not be turned over to their own sinful desires, and in doing so, face the wrath of a mighty, powerful and yet just God.

Thank you for having the concern to raise these issues in your column.
I would love to discuss this with you further. Please feel free to respond to this letter by return email.

Kind Regards,

Daniel Willis,