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Please keep in mind Matthew 5:39 NIV

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

I was searching for something to write a blog post about, when I stumbled upon this site which mentioned things I found offensive

From this site

You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects denominations [sic] - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

However, thinking of an answer to this, I found myself stuck. What are the characteristics of Christianity that make it tolerant? Which denomination has a history of showing toleration or is toleration not a Christian attribute? To be clear, I am looking for documented cases in the bible which fit a historical example.


I define tolerant as, "showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with." However, should there be another definition that fits the Christian use of the word "tolerant" please define.
Here's an example of how Christians are expected to practice tolerance

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Flimzy, I thought I was clear, "What are the characteristics of Christianity that mke it tolerant?" –  The Freemason Oct 22 '13 at 16:53
    
Specifically: Christianity does claim to be loving (Love your neighbor as yourself). I'm not sure that Christianity claims to be tolerant, however. Christianity is very harsh toward sin. –  Flimzy Oct 22 '13 at 16:53
    
I don't think that question can be answered, because I don't think Christianity is "tolerant" (according to the most common modern usage of that word). –  Flimzy Oct 22 '13 at 16:54
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I am surprised at the objections here - the basic idea of the question seems reasonable. I don't see a sense here that Christianity does or should "tolerate" everything, but only that Christianity has in the past supported such things as the separation of church and state, open debate, lack of legal sanction on heterodoxy, etc. –  James T Oct 22 '13 at 17:57
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I think some of the objection to the exclusivity of Christianity comes from folks who view themselves as decent people trying to be good (vs. Romans 3). Hell becomes incredibly unjust idea. But it's ultimately fault of poor Christian preaching. –  pterandon Oct 23 '13 at 2:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here is an example of tolerance in the bible:

1 Cor. 9:19-23 NIV

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law [non-Jews], as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

The context here is that Paul the apostle will make himself a part of their culture (Jewish or Gentile) in order to win them over to Christ. "But under the law to Christ" means he will do so without compromising the biblical law of faith and the moral tenets in the bible that reflect love, compassion, and respect for other persons. Missionaries who go into foreign cultures often take on the clothing and cultures of the people for this same reason, to show them how a believer lives before Christ, and thus win them to Jesus.

We can participate in many of their seasonal traditions, knowing that they cannot influence us for good or bad, such as Christian Jews eating meat offered to sacrifices, which was once forbidden under the law of Moses.

For the Christian, evil is not to be tolerated in the believer's life. And Christians have been involved in stopping many evil practices, as seen in the organizations that battle drug use and pornography, that set sex slaves free, and so on.

One basis for tolerance (among mature Christians, anyway) for differing viewpoints is the fact that all of us were born without Christ and without hope; only through the gospel can people be won to the truth of Christ. In humility we acknowledge their viewpoint as from a fallen world that we once shared and that once enslaved us; in humility, too, we share the news of Christ with the hope that the Spirit will convict their hearts and open them up to salvation.

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Tolerant of what? "Tolerance" is one of those words that people overuse yet never define. It generally carries the assumption that a person is only as good/strong/important as his ideas - if you reject a person's idea, you must be rejecting that person as well.

You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs... will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant"...

"You believe that you know the truth and that this truth isn't happy for all people, therefore you hate some people." This is an emotional argument with no grounding in rationality. (He doesn't seem to realize that any person who accuses another of intolerance, is by definition, the pot calling the kettle black.)

Christianity has always accepted people without tolerating their sins. All people, whether Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc, are created in the image of God Almighty. To hate a person is to hate the One who made him (1 John 4:20). "Tolerance" is a cheap substitute for the love we (Christians) have been called to show all people.

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Very nicely put! –  Wikis Oct 24 '13 at 19:42

[Protestant perspective]

When it comes to faith, belief and dogma, Christianity is not tolerant at all. Christianity will never agree that the belief and philosophies of other religions are true, unless there is a common ground. For instance, a Hindu has no problem to accept that Jesus is the Son of God. A Hindu will gladly include Jesus to the existing list of 330 million Hindu gods and goddesses. In contrast, Christians cannot do the same. Christians will never accept that Jesus is another incarnation of Krishna.

However, Christianity is highly tolerant (or most tolerant to emphasize) against blasphemy and mockery. If a man blasphemes a Hindu god in public, or desecrates their sacred places, he is sure to get beatings from the Hindus who saw him. It get worst when someone blasphemes the Muslim god Allah, they will pay it with their lives. In all these cases, Christians will not act out in violence, or in vengeance, because Jesus taught us not to take revenge but to accept it gladly and pray for them instead.

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My tongue is bleeding from biting it :) Conquistador, Crusaders, Catholic / Protestants, puritans (Salem witch trials) etc thank you for forgetting that they acted out in violence. Your statements are exactly what I thought before I thought about it further and posted this question. I was on the same page as you. –  The Freemason Oct 22 '13 at 20:09
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@SomeFreeMason Some errors were done in the past by people who claimed to represent Christianity, but it doesn't change the truth written in the Bible. Most of the violence were caused by ignorance or the religious authorities manipulating the laymen for their own benefits. So, NO, I am not on the page you think, I'm much ahead. –  Mawia Oct 23 '13 at 8:03
    
@SomeFreeMason Please read up on the Salem witch trials, OK? They were based on evil women wanting revenge on their enemies, and they found a foul way to do so through a gullible judge. It was Christians who put a stop to it, not Christianity that started it. –  Steve Oct 23 '13 at 12:47
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@SomeFreeMason let us also remember that not everyone who "talks the talk" walks the walk. –  Kyle Willey Oct 24 '13 at 20:07

This is an interesting question, indeed. The person you quote finds Christianity to be "intolerable", while Christianity is completely tolerable of other opinions and beliefs, as you defined tolerance. Christianity does not impose its beliefs on others nor does it vilify people that reject Christianity. However, the person quoted does vilify Christians.

This comes back to the definition of tolerance, which some today claim means that no one can ever say that anything or anyone is ever wrong about anything. They claim it is wrong to claim that something is wrong. Of course, this is illogical, but even if it weren't, merely making such a claim does not mean it is true. One is free to believe that it is wrong to believe that anything is wrong. One can believe that there is no absolute truth and be absolutely sure of it, despite the logical fallacy of such a belief, but that does not make people who acknowledge absolute truths to be intolerant.

Christianity, therefore, is completely tolerant. We do not impose our beliefs on anyone, but merely attempt to persuade. C.S. Lewis said it this way,

God does not ravage -- He must woo

The fact that Christianity does, in fact, believe that there is both a heaven and a hell and certain people will go to each place does not mean that it is intolerant at all. It is just a belief that is held. It tolerates other opinions, but it does believe that its own opinion is true--just like everyone else believes that his or her opinion is actually true.

Tolerance does not preclude anyone from believing certain things. It merely precludes them from forcing everyone to believe a certain way. Thus, Christianity is not at all intolerant. The person who vilifies Christians for their beliefs is the one who is intolerant.

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<Unconstructive comments removed.> –  El'endia Starman Oct 22 '13 at 21:41
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I think this answer engages in too many platitudes without enough citation. –  pterandon Oct 23 '13 at 2:25

I think Mawia has a good foundational answer. Regarding your good point about the Crusades, Catholic persecution, dark ages, etc...

We need to remember that Jesus said

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Not by profession but by fruit is a true Christian determined. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is following Christ. Also the persecution and violence during the dark ages is found in Bible prophecy.

Regarding "spending Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering" I completely agree that this would not fit a crime of say 16 years of sin. The reality is hell is real, but the punishment is not infinite. To prove that a good site about the truth about hell can be found here. Hope that helps!

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Nice addition. I actually use Matthew 7:21-23 when people attempt to say that Freemasons are not Christian even if they claim to be (or something along those lines). One paradox is this, Man has created religion (inspired by God, yes). Man has not created God. Religions can be wrong gasp but God cannot. That's why we see religions change over the years. –  The Freemason Oct 25 '13 at 12:39

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