2014-05-09 Is tolerance a good thing
ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
May 11, 2014
This is a letter to our friends –
Is tolerance a good thing?
“TOL´ERANCE, n. … The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring. … [Little used. But intolerance is in common use.]” [Webster’s 1828 Dictionary]
In 1828 ‘intolerance’ was in common use. Times have changed! Now ‘tolerance’ is supposed to be virtue! Today we are told, “There are no absolutes. Nothing is asolutely right or wrong. We should be tolerant.”
Well – I choose not to tolerate bank robbers, murderers, and those who commit treason against our nation. There is a longer list of things, but you can get the idea – some things are just wrong – absolutely!
If everyone is created free to decide what is right or wrong, how can anyone be absolutely sure of anything? Just try living as though there are no absolutes. Begin by driving the wrong way on a freeway!
Next – We are given the ability to observe and reason. “Even a dumb dog don’t kiss a hot stove twice!” If an event consistently produces good or bad results, we reason it is either right or wrong. Thoughtful observation and reason shows us that there are rules of action to govern everything that exists. Staying within those rules produces growth and peace. Wandering outside those rules produces chaos.
Men are slow learners. It took God 1620 years to make a Pilgrim! In His (God’s) compassion for us, I believe He inspired individuals to write His words in the Bible. Everyone is free to make his own decisions about God and the reliability of Bible teaching. If Bible rules consistently produce good results, we may reason that the rules are right. Not to do so would be foolish.
Your choices are given to you by God. No one has the authority to demand that you choose one way or another. Your choice is your property. Granted: choices have consequences – but – your choice is yours alone! You choose what you will tolerate!
I believe God is doing everything He can to teach you how you were designed to live. That is – To love God and love others. There is, I believe, nothing more He can do without violating your liberty to choose.
The best definition I have found for ‘love’ – To unselfishly want the very best for the loved one. [see John 3:16] Observation and reason tells us that is right. Observation and reason also show us that human nature is not ‘loving’. Selfishness is wrong.
Human nature is prideful, we like for people to agree with us! Sometime we attempt to force people to agree with us. Agreement cannot be forced. Church history has three categories of understanding –
- Either agree with us, or you are wrong.
- We have found truth. Let us teach the truth to you.
- No one has a monopoly on truth, come discover truth with us.
“Agree with us or you are wrong” has caused some bloody wars.
“We have found truth. Let us teach truth to you” I believe defines the “puritan” philosophy.
“No one has a monopoly on truth, come discover truth with us” I believe defines the “pilgrim” philosophy.
William Bradford’s manuscript, “The Plymouth Plantation” describes the planting of the seed of “pilgrim” philosophy in the colonial “puritan” society. That philosophy appears to have spread throughout New England. What appears to me to confuse many historians – Those who adopted the “pilgrim” philosophy retained their “puritan” name tags!
If I tolerate other religious philosophies, it would seem that I have the right not to tolerate them. Rather, every person must be left free to discover and grow his individual relationship with God. That in turn, will determine his relationship with others.