Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Backlash of New Tolerance

For any of you who don’t know what I mean by new tolerance, I would encourage you to go here

Hindsight is always 20/20 and there have been several articles that have been brought to my attention that are upsetting and troubling to me and I believe that this has largely to do with the effects of new tolerance on our society. Essentially, new tolerance works so long as you never talk about what you believe or assess the world and situations through the lens of your particular worldview.

To list a few examples, Tim Tebow (whom I know little about, admittedly) had an article written by a sports illustrated columnist (not in SI) where the author suggested that he wanted Tebow to fail in the NFL (he was recently drafted) and the reason(s) he listed had absolutely nothing to do with football or the young man’s athletic ability. It had to do with the fact that Tim Tebow is a Christian, now the author of the article didn’t have a great grasp of the Christian faith but even if you don’t take that into account, the basic claim is ridiculous. I’m sure there are several NFL players who are Christians, yet don’t talk about their faith and they never get any backlash, at least not publicly, but the second one of them starts talking about what they believe….watch out! Article here

The even more confusing, to me at least, situation is the one which is centered around the Christian Legal Society (CLS) on the Hastings College of Law, University of California. This particular campus has a non-discrimination policy and claims that CLS violates this policy by makings its leaders hold to its core Christian ideals (ie. against homosexuality, believes in the core doctrines of Christianity, etc.). I find it odd that anyone finds it surprising that the leaders of a Christian organization are expected to be Christians that hold to Christian ideals and doctrines. One of the Supreme Court justices marked the irony that not only would atheists have to be admitted, but they would also have to be allowed to be leaders and would then be leading bible studies. This would be similar to a collegiate democratic group being forced to allow republicans into their leadership, it makes no sense. The campus removed the standing of CLS and left it with two options, either leave campus and retain your ideals, or stay on campus and cease to be Christian, essentially. I decided it was best to run this scenario through a person who doesn’t share my religious convictions just to check my logic, and he didn’t understand how a “specialty group” was running into this problem. Also, that same logic should then be applied to every single group on campus which addresses any sort of special interest at all. Conservative Christians as leaders of a Gay/Lesbian group, a “radical” Muslim as a leader of the Atheist society, etc…again, just doesn’t make any sense. The Supreme Court will be hearing this case this summer link here

Now why do I relate this to what I call new tolerance? I hinted at it a little bit earlier but hopefully I’ll expound and better explain that here. Seeing as you have to respect everyone’s beliefs as equally true, and the goal here is to not offend anyone, that means that you can’t talk about your beliefs, and if you do, you have to make sure it doesn’t offend or disagree with anyone else’s beliefs. What is the problem? After all, that sounds nice doesn’t it? The problems are many, but I’m only going to cover a main one. The obvious one is that the belief is self-refuting or hypocritical because what happens when someone doesn’t buy into the same idea of new tolerance that someone else does? That means that this person will voice their opinions for whatever reasons they want to and are willing to hurt someone’s feelings or disagree with them in order to do so. Now, the person who believes new tolerance would have to cover those types of people who don’t inside their blanket of tolerance too in order to be consistent with their view….but that doesn’t really do a whole lot when you’re trying to just….what, be quiet and hope they go away? Opinionated people rarely do. So how do you deal with that? Legislation, at least that’s what’s starting to happen. Naturally, seeing as I’m a Christian, stories which involve people of similar beliefs (or at least who claim to have them) will draw my attention faster. As a Christian, I have certain convictions about the world and feel the need to tell people about Christ and about the way I live life and view things…….however…….that makes me a dreaded * fundamentalist!* or maybe even bigoted, narrow minded, ect. Now, if I am against something and feel strongly about it, I am going to express those views, and under freedom of speech, I should be allowed to do so. I absolutely do not want people who disagree with me to be silenced! I love dialogging with people who disagree with me, that’s how you come to the truth of issues! Wait a minute…did I just say truth? There’s the catch…..that doesn’t matter, because under new tolerance, there is no such thing. If opposing viewpoints have to both be held equally as being true, which one is right? The answer is both, and it will work just fine so long as nobody publicly says anything.

This reminds me of a quote from the movie V for Vendetta “He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.” and while that’s not aimed by me at any particular individual, it is aimed at society in general, and I’ve got news for you: those of us who don’t buy into new tolerance, and particularly Christians have been around for over 2000 years…..we’re not going anywhere no matter how much you circle the wagons.

Christianity: A Religion of Mutes

There are trends in Christianity today that are incredibly frightening and frustrating to me. We have lost our voice in the public square and it is not because it has been forcibly taken from us; we have simply given it up freely. There are those that are speaking out loudly against Christianity, yes, but they are not solely to blame; it is the fact that we do not have an answer. Charles Malik wrote in 1980 “I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism” and he could not have been more correct. People in general no longer read, think critically, or know why they believe what they believe, and thus do not stand up for anything. Christians have sacrificed truth for nicety, and in so doing have witnessed the fall of the Church.

I don’t believe there is a person on this earth who legitimately likes confrontation with other people, however confrontation is a natural part of human existence and is something that we have to deal with whether we like it or not. The problem is that we have taken our natural revulsion to confrontation to the extreme of avoiding it at all costs. What are those costs? The loss of the Gospel, the blurring of the lines of the truth of the Bible, the willing intellectual takeover of our universities and public squares by those who are opposed to Christianity etc. Is the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings really worth their eternal soul? It would appear that so.

What happens when books like The God Delusion and movies such as The Davinci Code come out? Panic. Christians everywhere boycott the books/movies with a vengeance and force their children to stay away from them. Is this because they present new ideas which shake Christianity to its core? Absolutely not, but if you have spent your whole life reading “the love chapter” in the Bible and only listening to preaching that makes you feel good about yourself, while simultaneously trying to be nice to everyone and not hurt anyone’s feelings even though you know what they are doing is wrong….what do you expect? Do I believe that we need to be loving when we share the truth? Absolutely, that is the way the Bible instructs us and I think that is the best way. Here is the problem; we have gone too far in that direction. I understand that part of the way this started was a move away from being legalistic or dogmatic, but at this point we have gone too far. We have bought into society’s new, postmodernistic version of tolerance and now agree with people who are anti-Christianity in saying that those who take a hard position on anything are bigoted, intolerant, and narrow minded. Do we not understand that our voice has been stolen from us?

A phrase that Christians like to use is that Christianity is not a religion, but it is a relationship, meaning that if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then that is enough. I don’t think this phrase in itself is a bad one, except that we have replaced 2000 years of Christian teaching with it. A quote that I recently found is rather enlightening on this issue and it is from Jason Gray, who writes “All Religion Ever Made Of Me Was Just A Sinner With A Stone Tied To My Feet, It Never Set Me Free. Its Gotta Be More Like Falling In Love Then Something To Believe In. More Like Losing My Heart Then Giving My Allegiance.” This is my interpretation of that quotation; Religion tells me the things I do are wrong and that there are consequences for my actions, and that makes me uncomfortable. I would rather find something that makes me feel good than have something which is true and which I need to submit to.
Do I believe that we should have a personal relationship with our Creator and that He wants to have that relationship with us? Absolutely, but I also know that the Bible tells us that we need to have an answer for the hope that is within us for anyone who asks, and I know that the Bible tells us that we need to go and make disciples of all nations and to teach them to obey everything that Jesus taught. The ways of God are NOT the ways of the world. Do you think that may offend some people? Do you suppose telling people that Jesus loves them and that they need to have a personal relationship with Christ will work with very many people in this anti-Christian country that we live in? Let me say that again, WE DO NOT LIVE IN A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY, at least not anymore. I do not expect everyone who calls themselves a Christian to be an excellent debater. God has called all of us to do different things for His kingdom. However, I believe we have neglected a large part of our job as Christians in general. We need to love God with all our heart, soul, STRENGTH, and MIND.

All across our country we have pastors confused because they don’t know whether or not they should perform homosexual marriages, we have gay/lesbian people being ordained into the ministry, the Gospel is being parceled out to only include the love of God and His forgiveness. We have churches splitting over issues that are black and white in the Bible because they have bought into the lie that the teachings of Christ and of the Bible are outdated dogmas that do not apply to the times in which we live.

I believe society as controlled by postmodernism has done severe damage to several areas. I think the new atheists are gaining an immense amount of ground in the universities, the media, and in the public square, but they are doing so because they are not being met with resistance. They do not present new ideas, nor do they present claims which are irrefutable, but they certainly appear that way to many people because they have never been confronted with someone who is not like themselves in that they will avoid confrontation and remain quiet whether they disagree with someone else or not. I think one of the large problems is that society in general and Christians in particular no longer read. The most common statements I encounter when I bring up this point in conversation are that reading is too hard, or they don’t have the time, or they don’t have the attention span for reading things which are boring to them. I will say that there are some people who are more inclined to reading than others, but this does not mean that those people don’t have to work at reading. It is a skill, like anything else, and takes time and effort to develop. However, what most people don’t understand is the extreme importance of reading. In the Enlightenment, people put knowledge above all else in society. If you were well read and well learned, you were well respected because knowledge was the greatest thing that humans could achieve. In more modern times, knowledge is…somewhat handy when it is convenient. I will always support 100% the reading of the Bible, and encourage all Christians to read theirs everyday, but do you understand the Bible? Do you know how to apply Biblical doctrine and teaching? Do you know how to explain to others what certain verses mean? Do you know which writers or teachers to listen to or read? Do you know what to say when people come to you and claim that the Bible is not the word of God and was simply written by men, has been changed over the years, and is full of contradictions? Yes, reading takes work; it takes time, effort, and perhaps even a bit of frustration but it is entirely worth it. The internet is a wonderful resource when it comes to reading, but I believe it has gone from being a convenience to a dependence. People expect everything instantly because that is the speed at which society travels. It is far faster to read an article on a book or perhaps the cliff notes on a book than read the entire book itself, and don’t you get the same effect? Not at all, especially if you are dealing with books of any sort of depth. However, I find that people don’t even have the patience to read a couple pages of summary, let alone an entire book which may contain hundreds of pages (gasp!).

When people like Richard Dawkins tell the world that children being brought up in Christian homes, and therefore are being raised with Christian ideals, are being subjected to childhood indoctrination, how do Christians respond? When someone says it is ok to call themselves Christian while still going out and getting drunk, or by being a practicing homosexual, how do Christians respond? The answer to both of those questions more often than not is that they don’t.

Evolution is taught in schools as a fact, yes it goes under the guise of a theory and some teachers/professors will speak with an air of fairness, but if ever someone brings another idea to the table it is shot down instantly. Take the theory of Intelligent Design for example. This movement is gaining quite a bit of ground, but if you watch the movie Expelled with Ben Stein, you see just how strong a grasp there is on the academy as a whole. There are several credible scientists, and even some who are atheist that believe that the theory is a stronger one than the theory of evolution and these people are simply dismissed on the notion that they have a “creationist, fundamentalist Christian agenda”. An atheist with a Christian agenda? So long as the status quo is maintained. A scientist is someone who has an incredible amount of clout in the minds of most average people, and certainly if you devote your life to studying science you are bound to have a good amount of knowledge that most people don’t. However, Albert Mohler points out that scientists are not as objective as they claim, and that even in the realm of science, there are still biases and worldview lenses that the scientists themselves work through.

All of that to say this; as Christians, we have lulled ourselves to sleep over the last couple decades and we are paying for it dearly. We need to have a clear, cogent voice in the public square and anywhere that discussion is taking place. We need to know what the Bible says and how to relay that to people. We need to know how to defend our positions and present the Gospel to a world that is hostile to the very notion of Christ. We need to know how to respond to people that are speaking out against the ideas and teachings of Christianity. It is going to take a lot of work on all our parts to even gain respect in the eyes of the rest of the world, but I believe that it is infinitely important that we put in the time and effort to do so. We need to regain our voice, not only to one another but to the world at large so that we are no longer a religion of mutes.