Hearing About Tolerance Often? Read This!

toleranceTolerance is the orthodoxy of our pluralistic, consumer-driven culture of today.  Nobody has linked the contemporary view of ‘tolerance’ with consumerism better than Lesslie Newbigin.  He writes:

Different religious traditions lose their capacity to be the binding elements of societies and become instead mere options for religious consumers to select for their own private reasons, reasons which are not to be argued about.  Thus “democratized” , religions enter the marketplace as objects of subjective choices in much the same way as brands of toothpaste and laundry soap. *

So what is better than tolerance?  Love.  And Christian love is far different than the anything-goes kind of love which is popularly promoted today. Listen to Paul Louis Metzger, in reflecting on his friendship with a Buddhist monk, write about his preference for Christian love over today’s tolerance:

I for one would rather be loved than tolerated.  With this point in mind I am so thankful that John 3:16 does not read, “For God so tolerated the world that he chose not to send his Son.”  I am so grateful that it reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”  Tolerance allows for the opportunity to remain at the far end of an outstretched hand; love requires embracing the other.  Tolerance does not entail having to get to know the other; love means being hospitable, which would include welcoming the person into one’s home.  Tolerance and love alike do not entail having to agree with someone; tolerance and love entail heart attitudes and behaviors that involve making space, and in the case of the latter, cherishing the other even when there is radical disagreement concerning such vital matters as faith claims.**

*  Lesslie Newbigin, “Religion for the Marketplace,” in Christian Uniqueness Reconsidered:  The Myth of a Pluralistic Theology of Religions, page 152,

**  Paul Louis Metzger,  Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths, page 182.


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