Subject: True Tolerance means Loving All People without Compromising Your Faith
Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
This past Sunday morning at Abundant Life Church, Lee’s Summit school district acting superintendent Dr. Emily Miller, and PR Director Kelly Wachel, opened the service by apologizing to the church for the media backlash after the LSR7 district cancelled its annual convocation event at Abundant Life Church. Dr. Miller told the church body that there always has been, and will continue to be, a strong bond between the school district and the church, as Abundant Life has been a partner in ministering to area students over the years.
The church’s stated mission is “To see lives changed by Jesus as we strive to be living proof of a loving God to a watching world.” With such a statement of love towards all people, what ‘media backlash’ would prompt representatives of LSR7 to speak to the church? The Kansas City Star’s August 5th article, entitled ‘Lees Summit teachers protest required district meeting at Anti-Gay church’, portrayed Abundant Life as haters of anyone identifying themselves as homosexual. If the newspaper had visited the church to speak to Senior Pastor Phil Hopper, they would have verified the church’s mission to love all people. How does the church’s mission to love people get so twisted by the media? It comes down to how people define truth.
In his article ‘How to Represent Christ in a Postmodern World’. Michael Patton, President of Credo House Ministries, explains the situation we live in today, where tolerance for each other’s beliefs is masked by an intolerance for anyone who holds opposing beliefs. Here are excerpts of his article.
“Our world is going through a major cultural shift. We have moved from a world of objectivity to one of relativism and tolerance. The greatest commandment in American culture today is this, thou shalt tolerate one another. Tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated. You may have your religion, and believe it, but you have no right to try to persuade another of your belief. Why? Because what you are saying is that your belief is superior to their belief. This is the supreme act of intolerance.
Because people are more skeptical today of objective truths, relativism is their creed. It is the idea that truth is contained in the eye of the beholder. To the relativist, all truth depends on the situation, culture or language. With relativism, a moral truth can be true and binding for one person, while for another it is not.
This has set up a head-to-head clash of relativism with objectivism, which claims that truths do exist in and of themselves. Objective truths do not depend upon the situation, culture or language. They are true even if nobody believes them to be true. An example of an objective truth is that the sun shines. These are truths that exist independently. They do not need anything to affirm them for them to be true.
The existence of objective truths is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. It is because of the objective truth of the atonement that we can have access to God. It is because of the objective truth that God created us that we exist. There is no room for relativity in these matters. We defend these objective truths at all costs.
The only truth that the relativist believes is that there is no truth, or at least no objective access to that truth.
Whatever our conclusions are, they are merely our opinions, and our opinions are no better than those of another. To the relativist, all of us are imprisoned behind the unbreakable walls of this subjective reality, and we must all “tolerate” each other. But what do the relativists mean by “tolerate”?
Do they mean the same as the American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of tolerance: “To allow without prohibiting or opposing; to permit”? Do they mean that if my neighbor adheres to a belief system other than mine, I should live at peace with him, not prohibiting or oppressing him? If this is the case, I agree.
But by accusing Abundant Life Church of being ‘anti-gay’ and ‘preaching messages of hate’ because they adhere to God’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, the media is not asking the church to tolerate opposing beliefs. They want the church to compromise their beliefs. They want the church to concede that others’ beliefs are just as true as theirs, to surrender their view of objective truth.
This would render a death blow to anyone’s belief in the Bible. What they are implying is that we should not stand up for our beliefs, if standing up for them means stating that our beliefs are objectively true. By tolerance, the relativist means that we compromise the objectivity of God’s Word. By tolerance, they want us to stop reaching out to others with the Gospel. By tolerance, they demand we approve of their lifestyles. By tolerance, they are essentially asking us to give up our faith. This we cannot do.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.