Category Archives: Aplogetics

The New Definition of Tolerance and The Christian

A predominant word used in today’s politics and legal circles is “tolerance.” Tolerance is defined as:

“the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

What does it mean to”tolerate something?” It means to:

allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.”

To tolerate different opinions should be in the heart of every American who understands that this country arose from the ashes of religious and civil intolerance in Europe.  The desire of the settlers of America was to create a nation of tolerance and acceptance because of their experience with intolerance in the “old country”.

During the Reformation era, as the Bible became more and more the source of faith for individual believers. it conflicted with the teachings of the powerful church in Europe and persecution soon followed. The followers of Jesus and the Bible during these tough times desired freedom of conscience and to worship without being claimed a heretic and facing death.   But, the ruling class and the powerful Roman Catholic church forbid any thoughts different than its own dogma and tradition.  Throughout, its history, the papacy leveraged the state to enforce its will upon the masses.  Millions died who were not “tolerated” by the church/state.  These people were not “allowed to exist” because of their Biblical views.  The history of persecution and death from the papacy over the controversy of who should be the final source of truth (Jesus or the Pope) is the classic definition of intolerance.  Millions of dissenters from the church were destroyed because the Pope did not want them to exist.

“From the birth of Popery in 606 AD to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existence of popery.”

— “History of Romanism,” pp. 541, 542. New York: 1871.

The founders of America wanted a nation without a pope or a king.  Why?  Because they desired all views to be tolerated or allowed to exist, particularly Christian Biblical views.  

Of course, to have a nation like this, the Christians would have to live by their own words and “tolerate” other worldviews they did not agree with and allow their existence and practice in this new nation.

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Does Disagreement With Someone’s Religion or World View Necessarily Mean They are Intolerant?

If we understand the word “intolerant” and the history of “intolerance” we know the answer to this question to be “No.” The deciding factor to turning the answer into a “Yes” is the actions taken by those with the power to force the dissenter to either not exist or to persecute them in some way.

The Christian who believes that Jesus is the only truth and does not accept a different view is not intolerant in their beliefs any more than the Muslim who feels the same way about Mohammed, but it becomes intolerance when one of the groups persecutes the other.

The apostle Paul expressed the concept of “tolerance” in the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 when he said,

“Love suffers long and is kind….endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13: 4,7

To disagree with someone’s religion or political views is not intolerance unless they persecute. Without a doubt, a follower of Christ must be tolerant, but at the same time, there is put within the heart of the Christian to make known the truth as found in Christ.


“♦…today a new definition of tolerance is systematically being foisted upon the minds of all people.  As an example, Thomas A Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, states, ‘The definition of new tolerance is that every individual’s beliefs, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal…Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative.”

So the modern historically uninformed college student who is encouraged to erase and rewrite “bad history,”  seeks to adopt an exaggerated form of tolerance where all philosophies and word views are equal. I can’t help but think of the words of a classic rock song,

“Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”-Buffalo Springfield, For What It’s Worth.”

It the context of an equal and relative truth these lyrics could also read,

Nobody’s wrong if everybody’s right.

But, here is the immediate danger in this new definition of tolerance….the real truth, becomes lost or eliminated if we obtain truth by our feelings and whatever we desire it to be.  Under this thinking of relative truth, everybody is right!

♦The misconception about relative truth assumes that truth is inclusive, that it gathers under its wings claims that oppose each other. The fact, however, is that all truth is exclusive---at least to some degree---for it must exclude as false that which is not true.

For instance, it is true that Washington D.C. is the capital city of the United State of America. This means that no other city in the United States is that country's capital. In fact, no other city on planet Earth or anywhere in the universe can lay legitimate claim to being the capital city of the United States. One city and one only fits the bill and that's Washington D.C.

Simply because just one city is the United States' capital does not mean that the people who affirm this truth are therefore intolerant.  They may like scores of other cities and even live in different cities themselves.  They may even live in different countries and prefer their country to America.  Accepting the exclusive truth claim about Washington D.C. does not make a person tolerant or intolerant---it simply makes him or her correct about what the capital city of the United States is.

The same is true about Christianity.  If the claims of the Christian faith are true---and many people accept them as true---these people are no more intolerant for their belief than those people who accept Washington D.C. as the United States capital. They are either correct or mistaken about how God has revealed Himself in the world.

The main problem with the all-inclusive view of truth is that it also stifles the follower of this philosophy to seek the truth. The Christian will tell you that the source of truth is found in God’s word and in the life of Jesus.  To test this or any other claimant of truth must have a starting place.  That origin of entry for truth must be historical with eyewitnesses accounts and proof that the truth works on a practical plain.

For more information, the study of different philosophical claims of different religions, click here: Will the Real God Please Stand Up?-An Overview


Jesus claimed,

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6

He made many other claims. He clearly stated  that the Tanakh (Old Testament) was about Him:

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

John 5:39

He explained to the uninformed and misunderstanding disciples how the Tanakh “testified of Him.”

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

Luke 24: 44, 45

But many people are afraid to “Search the Scripture” to see if what He claims is true or not.  Why?  The only reason can be FEAR.

Fear of being wrong. Because of pride, people resist admission of having the wrong idea, philosophy, or worldview.

Fear of Change or lifestyle.  They reason their life won’t be as fun and enjoyable.

Fear of Accountability.  Things they practice may have consequences.

Fear of Losing Friends.  Accepting truth may push away friends and family.


It was these types of fears and misconceptions about tolerance that kept the people of Noah’s time from getting on the boat and saving their lives.  In the end, failing to pursue truth regardless of what one might think to be truth will keep many from eternal life as promised by God and Jesus Christ.

Nothing has changed since the days of Noah.  People continue to avoid pursuit of truth because of fear.

And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:

Luke 17:6

To conclude this short discussion on tolerance and its relationship to truth, an appropriate story (from the book, Great Controversy) about the pursuit of truth comes from a man called Gaussen who was influenced by the prevailing truth of the day (18th and 19th century) i.e. rationalism.  It is defined as:

a belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response.

But, he studied about Jesus and the prophecies…then his life changed.  He wanted to tell the adults in his part of the world about what he discovered in the Bible but found them resistant, so he taught the children to see if they could understand the information.  The results were unexpected.

Many today claim to be tolerant and have an open mind.  There is no human with a mind more open than a child.  Jesus knew this when he said,

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3

♦As he (Gaussen) pursued his investigation of the prophecies he arrived at the belief that the coming of the Lord was at hand.  Impressed with the solemnity and importance of this great truth, he desired to bring it before the people; but the popular belief that the prophecies of Daniel are mysteries and cannot be understood was a serious obstacle in his way.  He finally determined—as Farel—had done before him in evangelizing Geneva—to begin with the children, through whom he hoped to interest the parents.

“I desire this to be understood,” he afterward said, speaking of his object in this undertaking.  “it is not because of its small importance, but on the contrary because of its great value, that I wished to present it in this familiar form, and that I addressed it to the children. I desired to be heard, and I feared that I would not be if I addressed myself to the grown people first.”  “I determined, therefore, to go to the youngest, I gather an audience of children; if the group enlarges, if it is seen that they listen, are pleased, interested, that they understand and explain the subject, I am sure to have a second circle soon, and in their turn, grown people will see that it is worth their while to sit down and study.  When this is done, the cause is gained,” I. Gaussen, Daniel The Prophet, vol. 2, Preface

The effort was successful.  As he addressed the children, older persons came to listen.  The galleries of his church were filled with attentive hearers. Among them were men of rank and learning, and strangers and foreigners visiting Geneva, and thus the message was carried to other parts.

The understanding of God’s word is simple— provided the person is willing to pursue truth no matter where it leads and with an open mind free of preconceived ideas.  Fear will be replaced with joy and confidence.  But a person will never know unless they start…they will never receive from God if they desire their own pleasures.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James 4:3

The new definition of tolerance (all ideas are equal and true and therefore should be accepted) is false.  To believe the truth found in God’s word and the exclusive claims of Christianity is not intolerance.   A true follower of Christ will demonstrate acceptance of the person in love but reject what they know to be false and dangerous to that person.  They will encourage the pursuit of truth out of love and no other reason.

In modern America, the country of religious freedom, it is the founders of tolerance (Followers of Jesus) who are now being forced through legal actions to accept the beliefs of people they know to be in error.  The courts want to control the beliefs of Christians regarding sex and their worldview. This is persecution. No other religion is being sued and harassed as are Christians.  So, I end with this question.  Who are the people who are intolerant?  Who hates those who don’t accept their beliefs? Who desires for the other group to not exist?

Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.

Luke 6:22

The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil

John 7:7

The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell

 

 

 

Common Misconceptions About Christianity-BLIND FAITH

“Grow up!  It is silly to believe in the man-in-the-sky  stuff!”

“Your belief is based on myths, the human need for comfort, and blind faith.”

“There is no evidence for your faith.”

How many times have Christians heard this?  In this series, we are going to explore the misconceptions associated with Christianity and the reasons and evidence for belief in Jesus Christ.

I have learned over the 40 years, as a believer in Jesus, that people who make derogatory statements like the ones above are simply uninformed. But even if they are informed, it does not guarantee an acceptance of the truth about Jesus and the word of God.

Benjamin Warfield from Princeton University put it this way,

“We are not absurdly arguing that *Apologetics has in itself the power to make a man a Christian or to conquer the world to Christ. Only the Spirit of Life can communicate life to a dead soul….But we are arguing that faith is, in all its exercises alike, a form of conviction, and is, therefore, necessarily grounded in evidence.”

*Note: Apologetics (in the Greek language apología) is not about "aplogizing" in the modern sense of the word, but rather a reasoned defending the faith.

As Christians, we are directed by Peter (one who was an eyewitness to the life of Christ) to:

….always be ready to give a defense (apología) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

1 Peter 3:15

We are also told by Paul, another eyewitness and major player in the growth of Christianity, that

 faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

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Unprepared for the world’s attack.

Herein is the problem with the great loss of faith by our young children who enter college and face mature men and women armed with questions and doubts determined to convert their minds into their own agnostic/atheist beliefs.

We raise our young children in almost sterile environments complete with band memberships, Christian socials, and fun things, which are OK.  At night we tell them nice Bible bedtime stories, also good,  but we don’t give them the evidence, substance,  nor the reasons for their faith in Jesus.  Many are ignorant of the Bible itself and its faith-giving prophecies.  Perhaps even more crippling is the absence of a personal experience with and dedication to Jesus.

Even us adults may find ourselves in a state of doubt and an anemic  Christian experience because our faith is not based on facts, but rather feelings and family tradition.

Faith is not blind, it has substance and evidence. I agree with those who say, “my heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects.” God invites us to think and use our minds, not just our heart (feelings)

Jesus quoted from the Old Testament when he said,

“…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 

Mark 12:30

The Christian experience includes the mind (reasoning) and not just the emotion.  God asks us to “reason together” with him (Isaiah 1:18). Reasoning involves communication and this communication is performed through prayer and the opening of the heart to what He has already revealed to us in scripture. But, it also involves having “facts” for faith in Jesus.

The order of the three “f’s” in Christianity must occur in this order: Facts, Faith, Feeling.  The facts about Jesus give you reasons for your faith (trust in Jesus), and all this give you the peace and all the feelings that come from the promises of God’s word.

An experience that starts and based only on feelings is destined to wither under the heat of life’s events.  Faith cannot be mustered up by mental exercises. The faith and feelings will come only by the facts.  This is what Paul stressed when he said,

 So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

As one evangelist, I knew, said,

“Little time in God’s word equals little faith, but much time in God’s word equals much faith.”

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Not Blind Faith

When Jesus Christ and the apostles called upon a person to exercise faith, it was not a ‘blind faith” but rather an “intelligent faith.”  The apostle Paul said,

I know whom I have believed”

2 Timothy 1:12

Jesus said,

You shall know (not ignore) the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:32

For me personally and many like me, I could not exercise blind faith about Jesus, I needed substance and evidence. I found it in three sources:  1.)  The prophecies about Jesus, 2.) History, and 3.) Eyewitness accounts.

“*The Christian faith is an objective faith; therefore, it must have an object. The Christian concept of ‘saving’ faith is a faith that establishes one’s relationship with Jesus Christ (the object), and is diametrically opposed to the average ‘philosophical’ use of the term faith in the classroom today.”

“Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it” (Paul Little)

For the Christian, historical facts are critical.  Paul drives home this point when he described the historical fact of the resurrection:

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty…And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”

1 Corinthians 15: 14, 17

The Stories of the  Bible Are Not Myths

“Critics sometimes charge, ‘Events such as the virgin birth, the resurrection and ascension, Jesus’ turning water into wine and walking on water didn’t really happen. They were inserted to elevate Jesus to the status of a divine figure, though, if he lived at all, he was no more than a mere mortal.” “A professor of a world literature class to which I spoke asked the question, ‘What do you think of Greek mythology?’ I answered with another question, ‘Do you mean, were the events of the life of Jesus, the resurrection, virgin birth, etc., just myth?’ He answered ‘Yes.’ I replied that there is an obvious difference between the events recorded about Christ in the Bible and the stories conveyed in Greek mythology that bear a vague similarity. The similar stories , such as resurrections, and others, of Greek mythology were not applied to real flesh-and-blood individuals, but instead to non-historical, fictional, mythological characters However, when it comes to Christianity, these events are attached to the historic Jesus of Nazareth who the New Testament writers knew personally, the professor replied, ‘Your’re right, I never realized that before.”

The Bible Contains Eyewitnesses Unlike Mythology or the Writings of Other Religious Works

Peter was an eyewitness who refutes the events as fables:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

2 Peter 1:16

John saw and touched Jesus:

 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested (made known) to us—  that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 1: 1-3

Luke, an educated physician put together a narrative from a “perfect understanding” of the events.

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled  among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,

Luke 1:1-3

Luke followed it up with “infallible proofs” as Jesus was seen by many for “forty days” after the cross.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,  until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Acts 1: 1-3

Paul saw Jesus after 500 people saw him “at once” ( a congregation of people), then James and all the apostles saw Him.

After that, He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that, He was seen by James, then by all the apostles Then last of all, He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

1 Corinthians 15: 6-8

John was an eyewitness to Jesus’ miracles and signs, most were not even written down! 

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this bookbut these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name….And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

John 20: 30-31, 21:25

Luke states they were all witnesses even His death, resurrection, and having meals with Him afterward.

And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom theykilled by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the deadAnd He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

Acts 10: 39-42

Peter witness not only His sufferings but also looked forward to the second glorious return as taught by Jesus before he died!

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

1 Peter 1:5

His followers listened and watched as Jesus ascended to heaven as promised.

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

Acts 1:9

Peter discloses to hecklers to the Pentecost that they also saw and know the actions and events of Jesus life

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know

Acts 2:22

After Festus called Paul mad, Paul discloses that all that Jesus did was in the open and King Agrippa must have known about it. Further, Paul appealed to King Agrippa’s knowledge of the prophets and the fulfillment of their words in Jesus.

Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention since this thing was not done in a cornerKing Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

Acts 26: 24-28

Conclusion

The Christian beliefs are not based on blind faith nor myths and fables. They are based on substance and evidence. Like all historical characters, there were eyewitnesses.  Faith is based on substance and evidence, but even the evidence is not enough to convert a person.  That person will only be convinced and converted if they yield to the encouraging the work of God’s Spirit which brings conviction about sin and its ultimate results.  Once the person goes “all-in” with Jesus, they will discover a life of peace, real joy, and hope in the coming events proclaimed by Jesus and God’s word.

Next time we will continue our study on misconceptions about Christianity.

*Much thanks to Josh McDowell and his book The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Volume I and II