Jun 2, 2009

The New Tolerance: Implications for Christianity

By Dr. David R. Reagan

Christianity has been heavily impacted by the "New Tolerance." Let's consider some of the ways:

1) Hatred — For one thing, the "New Tolerance" is turning society against Evangelical Christianity. In fact, I would put it even stronger than that. I would say it is fueling outright hatred and persecution of Evangelicals.

The reason, of course, is simple. Evangelicals stand on the Word of God as their authority for all things, and because they do, they feel compelled to speak with moral indignation against the sins of society.

And society responds by shouting, "Bigots!" Evangelicals are written off and publicly denounced as "Bible-thumpers," "red-neck zealots," and "self-righteous prudes."

Consider, for example, the response of the press and the general public to the decision by Southern Baptists to boycott the Disney Corporation. The Baptists were castigated in the harshest possible language for adopting the following resolutions:

  1. That there should be a right to display the Ten Commandments in all government offices, court houses, and schools.

  2. That Bible publishers should refrain from accommodating their translations to contemporary cultural pressures.

  3. That Christians should boycott the Walt Disney company for its flagrant promotion of homosexuality, adultery, infidelity, and violence.

  4. That the United States government should take sanctions against foreign governments that promote religious persecution.

What is so terrible about these resolutions? Why did they result in a firestorm of criticism? The answer is simple. The resolutions make moral judgments.

But do you see a double standard here? Think of it — It is okay to bash Christians, but it is morally wrong to criticize homosexuals. It is okay to put a crucifix in a jar of urine and call it art, but it would be totally unacceptable to put a rainbow pin in the same jar (because it symbolizes the New Age Movement). And it is okay to boycott an American corporation that pollutes the atmosphere or exploits foreign workers, but it is totally unacceptable to boycott a corporation that promotes gross immorality.

2) Dilution — The second way the "New Tolerance" has impacted Christianity is that it has been adopted by many mainline Christian denominations, and this has resulted in diluting their stand against the sins of society.

John 3:16 has been replaced as the central verse in these churches with Matthew 7:1 which says, "Judge not, that you be not judged."

The result is, as Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, has often pointed out, there are tens of thousands of silent pulpits in America today because pastors are unwilling to denounce gambling, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, pornography, or any other societal evil.

Someone needs to point out to these preachers that Matthew 7:1 applies to motives — not to words and actions. God alone knows motives, but we can certainly judge words and actions against the standards of God's Word. And, in fact, we are required to do so. The Bible tells Christians to test all things, ourselves included (2 Corinthians 13:5 and 1 John 4: 1). And Jesus Himself commanded us "to judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

3) Apostasy — There is a third way the "New Tolerance" has impacted Christianity. Again, this has happened primarily among the mainline, liberal denominations.

What I'm referring to is the growing attitude of acceptance of other religions as legitimate avenues to God and salvation. This attitude dominates both the National and World Councils of Churches.

The attitude is usually expressed in the following manner: "There are many roads to God because He has revealed Himself in many different ways." Because of this apostasy, many Christian leaders are now taking the position that it is wrong to send out missionaries because they violate the cultural sensitivities of foreign peoples and because they communicate the idea that there is something superior about the Christian message.

All of which makes a liar of Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me" (John 14:6). It also makes a liar of the Apostle Peter who proclaimed in Acts 4:12 that "there is salvation in no one else [but Jesus]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

In the final part of "The New Tolerance," we'll look at its prophetic implications.