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4 Bumps

"Everyone's beliefs are valid ... except yours"

Intolerable Tolerance

by Robert Rothwell

One of my seminary professors had a true story that he would tell in order to illustrate the false humility of postmodern relativism. While he was a professor at a state university, he had a student who was an evangelical Christian. One Sunday, this student was visiting a liberal church in the downtown area of a big city. The pastor, who had embraced relativism with enthusiasm, was preaching a sermon that began with the statement “all religious beliefs are true,” and it went downhill from there. Minute by minute, the preacher told the congregation that all faiths were equally valid and that salvation was available to all, no matter what his or her belief system was. The student who was visiting the church could not take such nonsense and got up to leave as the pastor was bringing his sermon to a conclusion. As the student was leaving, the pastor called out to him. Desiring to use the young man to illustrate his point, he asked the student what his religious beliefs were. The student turned and said “Sir, I believe you are preaching another gospel, and that you are in danger of going to hell.” Needless to say, the pastor was incensed at the student and began mocking and berating him. So much for all religious beliefs being equally valid.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “It does not matter what you believe, as long as you believe it.” “All paths lead to salvation.” “No one who is sincere will be left out of the kingdom.” The pastor in the above story clearly held this view, and it is the prevailing sentiment in American culture. It is yet another example of the postmodern emphasis on the relativity of truth. All sincere beliefs are true, no matter if they contradict the beliefs of another.

These ideas are promoted in the guise of tolerance: “We cannot judge another person.” “We must accept anything another person believes.” “We cannot tell them they might be wrong because to do so would be intolerant.”

But it is laughable to suggest that these ideas are tolerant. As the story above demonstrates, all religious beliefs are tolerated, as long as they do not claim any exclusivity for themselves. As soon as someone holds to a religious belief that claims exclusivity, that person’s belief is no longer accepted. The moment someone claims truth or universality for their belief system, that person loses all credibility in our culture.

When people say “it does not matter what you believe, as long as you believe it,” they are displaying false humility. They do not really hold to this statement. They certainly do not accept it in “non-religious” settings. No one lives their life consistently believing that the only thing that matters is sincerity. If they did, they would encourage others to drink poison if those others sincerely believed it was not poison. They would tell others to go ahead and run red lights if those others sincerely believed a red light meant go. They would not make fun of scientists who held to intelligent design as opposed to Darwinian theory if it really did not matter what a person believes.

No, to say “it does not matter what you believe, as long as you believe it,” applies only to religious matters. But as we have seen, even that idea applies only to certain religious beliefs. Tolerance only goes so far.

This statement is the height of arrogance. Mankind will do whatever it can to avoid the claims of an exclusive God. They will ignore the logic they use in “non-religious” areas of life and attempt to violate the law of non-contradiction by assuming that the contradictory beliefs of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, atheists, et al. are all mutually compatible. But when they denounce the exclusive claims of Christianity for the sake of tolerance, they embrace the law of noncontradiction in order to uphold their real allegiance to the god of religious relativism. For them it is exclusively true that all religious beliefs are true. If this were not so, they would not hate us for claiming otherwise.

It is easy to see how the god of religious relativism permeates the secular culture. For example, we often hear the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, while judges who claim that there exists a universal natural law by which all societies should be governed are immediately held suspect. Less readily apparent, however, is that the god of religious relativism is making inroads into the church. Since Vatican II, some Roman Catholics teach that sincere belief is adequate to get into heaven. Even some “evangelical” churches are filled with people who think unbelievers who have not heard of Christ will be going to heaven.

Our age is filled with those who would try to downplay the laws of reason. We encounter people everyday who live their religious lives as if the law of noncontradiction does not matter. But the God of Scripture is an exclusive God; there is none other beside Him. And Jesus is the only way to Him (John 14:6). But when the culture embraces postmodern relativism, these claims are set aside. And if the church does the same, she too will deny her Lord.

 
-Eilish-

Asked by -Eilish- at 5:28 PM on Jun. 3, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 28 (33,578 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (32)
  • You are the one who gets stuck believing that your way is the correct way and there is no other way. I am open to other definitions of things. However, when speaking within certain disciplines, I amazingly like to stay within those disciplines. You, on the other hand, seem unable to do that...unless it comes to religion. You seem believe your way is the only way...once again, and thusly only stay within your very small parameters.
    purpleducky

    Answer by purpleducky at 6:10 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • MamaK88

    Answer by MamaK88 at 5:48 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • That's quite a deceptive title. What it really should read according to the text that follows is, "Everyone's beliefs are wrong...except mine." And really, this belongs in a journal not the Answers section.
    KelleyP77

    Answer by KelleyP77 at 5:59 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • You seem to have this mistaken idea that "valid" means willingness to submit and adhere.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 6:35 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Better yet what is your question? I see nothing more then you spreading the word of your god. Put this is a journal.
    mommy_of_two388

    Answer by mommy_of_two388 at 5:42 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Universalist paths of thought are not fundamentalist. Therefore, in universalism, one can accept that all religions are valid in that they have the same goal and similar basic tenets. It doesn't require belief in all aspects of the religion's dogma or belief that its religious text/s are 100% accurate and/or literal. So rejecting certain aspects of some religions is not excluding them as a whole.
    KelleyP77

    Answer by KelleyP77 at 6:30 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • NP, she does more than invent her own definitions. She also states that all psychology and sociology textbooks are wrong. Apparently she is smarter than learned scholars.
    purpleducky

    Answer by purpleducky at 9:32 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Again. You have not the foggiest what tolerance actually means.
    ObbyDobbie

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 5:33 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • Quite well. It is what I have for you.
    ObbyDobbie

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 5:48 PM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • " you can't claim religious inclusiveness unless you include the exclusive religions too. Because as soon as you give the exclusive ones the boot, you become religiously exclusive yourself. "

    Please explain how not wishing to have one disrespect me by TELLING me how wrong I am, instead of just respecting our beliefs are different giving one the boot? That is ridiculous. One can have their beliefs, and embrace them and be strong in them without it being contingent upon disrespecting others. There is something called mutual respect and it in no way implies intolerance of anothers beliefs. I do it every single day I see my christian friends and they see me.
    sahmamax2

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 6:18 PM on Jun. 3, 2011