Guest Post: Tolerance is Overrated
This is a guest post from Dr. Terry Dorsett, director of missions for the state of Vermont. It is reposted here with his permission. The pictures and headings have been added to his original post.
We’ve Been Known as the Baptist Boycotters
For many years churches were known for what they were against. This negative position often turned off non-believers. Many people felt being “against” stuff was partly responsible for why some churches were no longer growing. Such churches were accused of being intolerant of others and since intolerance has become the greatest “sin” of our postmodern culture, churches became “bad” in the minds of many people.
People often know what we are against. What are we For?
In the last ten years, many church leaders have seen the weakness of only being known for what they are against. Many Christian leaders have restyled their message in a positive way. They look for ways to talk about what they are for instead of what they are against. Instead of being “against abortion,” churches are now “for” adoption and helping single moms. Instead of being “against’ alcoholism, they are “for” helping people celebrate recovery. Instead of being “against” same sex marriage, churches are now “for” traditional marriage. Instead of telling their parishioners to boycott a particular company, they tell them to buy chicken sandwiches from a specific fast food chain.
This positive way of expressing a biblical viewpoint is beginning to impact how people “in the middle” think of the church. Many people have not thought through the issues themselves and rely on someone else to tell them what to think. Because most people prefer to be for something, instead of against something, that group in the middle was not attracted to the negative positions that many churches previously offered. Now that many churches have changed the way they talk about the issues, the massive middle finds that it actually agrees with the church on many issues after all. The positions themselves have not changed much, just the way those positions are expressed.
Those Who Espouse Tolerance Have Zero Tolerance for Tolerance
Though the people in the middle may appreciate the church’s more tolerant way of expressing their views, the radical left does not. If anything, it has made those on the far left even more angry and hateful toward Christians. Perhaps those on the far left realize their positions are weak and self-focused. They only way the radical left could promote their weak ideas has been on the back of someone whom they made the “enemy.” Now that the enemy has become the hero, the radical left must become even more vicious in order to draw an ever shrinking number from the middle to their bizarre views.
In a recent exchange with a friend on the far left, I expressed surprise at how bigoted and intolerant his views were about Christians. After all, for years he has told me to be “more tolerant.” But in a clear case in which he was showing bigotry toward Christians simply because they were “for” a cause he did not like, I pressed him on his own lack of tolerance. His response was, “Tolerance is overrated.” Thus revealing his true feelings about tolerance.
The far left has no plans to practice toward others the tolerance they have preached for so many years. Instead, they will increasingly become known as Christo-phobic, anti-Christian, anti-god, hate mongers. I say, let them win the “anti” war. We already know all that will gain them is a loss of the middle and a marginalization of their ideas. To my friends on the left, “hate” away. I am still for all things good and wholesome.