25 octubre 2006

A summary for "The new tolerance..."

A summary for

“The new tolerance: how a cultural movement threatens to destroy you, your faith, and your children”
by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler

In the past, tolerance was commonly understood to be the recognition and respect of others’ beliefs, practices, etc. without sharing them. In fact, there are many verses in the Bible that speaks about traditional tolerance. For example, Romans 12:16 “Live in harmoney with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” And Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” The list of verses continues: Romans 12:18, Ephesians 4:2 and 4:32, Galatians 6:10 amoung many. Traditional tolerance allows us to listen to and learn from other perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. It allows us to live peaceably alongside others, in spite of differences. And it allows us to accept other people, regardless of their race, creed, nationality, or sex. Traditional tolerance differentiates between what a person thinks or does and the person himself.

Unfortunately, there is a new definition of tolerance that states that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal. Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal and all truth is relative. Stanley J. Grenz writes in his book “A Primer to Postmodernism” the following: “Truth is relative to the community in which a person participates. And since there are many communities, there are necessarily many different truths.” And Don Closson states “Since there are multiple descriptions of reality no one view can be true in an ultimate sense... Since truth is described by language, and all language is created by humans, all truth is created by humans.” So in the end what we have is this: All “Truth” Is Equal.

Look at the differences between Traditional Tolerance and the New Tolerance

Fortunately, we know not ALL are equal. Look at these following examples: the Ku Klux Klan; any racial, gender, or ethnic supremacist groups; organized crime; nor anyone ambitious for power and uses it without regard to considerations of morality. Even the Bible states not all are equal. In Jeremiah 10:10 it reads “But the Lord is the true God..” and Deuteronomy 6:18 says “Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight.”

What does “All “Truth” is Equal” mean? What does it imply? Read the following phrases commonly used in new tolerance lingo.

“Let people live the way they want to live.” In other words, we all decide our own personal right and wrong, and we leave everybody else alone.
“What is wrong for one person is not necessarily wrong for someone else.”
“You must agree that another person’s position is just as valid as your own.” In other words, YOU MUST GIVE YOUR: approval, endorsement, sincere support, and participation to their beliefs and behaviors.
“There is no Absolute Truth.” [Definition of Absolute Truth: a right and wrong that applies to all people, all times, and all places]

The last statement “There is no absolute truth” is extremely dangerous. Without absolute truth we cannot distinguish from right or wrong, thus we are unable to resist temptation and choose right. The question is, will we choose to follow the crowd? Or will we believe there is a right and wrong and let the world “think it strange that we do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and [let them] heap abuse on [us]?” I Peter 4:4

What can we do?

First, we need to “understand the times” like the men of the tribe of Issachr, who then knew what Israel should do, beecause a problem well-defined is half solved.

The basic premise of postmodernism and the new tolerance is that there is no difference between who a person is and that person’s beliefs, behavior, culture, or lifestyle.

Who I AM = What I Do

So, if we were to judge a belief, behavior, culture or lifestyle, we would be judging the person. But the Bible says differently. We are created in the image of God to be individuals, not cultures or communities. The Bible also states that our behaviors and beliefs, although they do not define us, do affect us: “But your iniquities have seperated you from your God” Isaiah 59:2. The verse reads “iniquities” not “you,” showing a clear distinction between the acts and the person. Look at what happens with the new tolerance of postmodernism, when all “truth” is equal or “truth” does not exist:

truth dies
virtue disappears
justice perishes
conviction disappears
faith is silenced
the individual becomes tyrannical
human rights disintegrate
feelings become dominant
nature is exulted
extremes become the norm

Postmoderism states that logic and linear thought are Western and therefore oppressive. It is necessary to believe two or more contradictory things at the same time. And following the pattern of George Orwell’s 1984

Nonagreement is Phobia
Nonconformity is Hate
Conviction is Fanaticism
Christian Creeds/Prayers/Symbols are Discriminatory
Selective Segregation is Justice

What is an effective Christian response to a culture steeped in the postmodern doctrine of new tolerance?

A More Excellent Way = The Way of Love

Love as Christ loves you by recognizing, remembering and relating to each person as a human being created in the image of God and as a person for whom Christ died (Romans 5:8).

Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40) which is defined as making the health, happiness, and spiritual growth of another person as important to you as your own. In Ephesians chapter five, we see sacrificial love (:25), great commandment love specific to marriage (:28), and love that nourishes and cherishes (:29). What does Nourish actually mean? To bring to maturity. To care for and contribute to the health and vitality of the whole person: mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally. And Cherish means to protect from the elements and from harm: physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Christian love actually seeks to promote the good of another person (I Corinthians 13:6-7).

The new tolerance “Live and let live” is actually indifference, not love! Christlike love
does not just “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” but it also seeks to prevent the suffering and pain that evitably accompany disobedience. Max Lucado states “disobedience always results in self-destruction.” What real love does is grieves over the inevitable results of wrong behavior.

We also need to understand what love does not do

Love won’t ignore the truth: Hate is not the true opposite of love. Indifference is.

Love won’t minister condemnation. It won’t leave a person feeling condemned but will offer hope of forgiveness and restoration (John 3:17). We must consciously and consistently distinguish between the person and his/her beliefs, behavior, lifestyle and truth claims.
Aggressively live in Love: “You are my brother or sister, worthy of my loving acceptance and respect as an unimaginably valuable human being created in the image of God, a priceless soul for whom Christ died.”
Humbly stand for Truth: “Because I love you, I will humbly point to the truth about anything that threatens your happiness, health, and spiritual well-being.”

Always remembering that we cannot personally determine truth, we can only humbly point to what God says on the matter.

Love won’t neglect people’s needs, but looks beyond their sin and seeks to meet their needs (attention, acceptance, respect, etc.). Our mission here would be to seek out the lost and invite them into our homes, eat with them, exercise with them, sit with them when they are sick. While every sinner does need the Savior, we must not neglect the deep relational needs that must often be addressed before a non-Christian can even respond to Christ’s love and grace.

A look at the new tolerance and the church

57% of churched youth do not believe an objective standard of truth exists
53% of Bible-believing, conservative Christian adults do not believe in absolute truth
84% of first year Christian (university) students cannot intelligently defend or explain their beliefs
2/3 of 70% of Americans who say it is important to follow the teachings of the Bible reject moral absolutes

There are three places where the new tolerance is entering the church: in leadership, in the seminaries, and in the pews themselves.

Leadership: January 1998, Bishop Frank Tracy Griswold, the spiritual leader of 2.4 million Episcopalians, stated that the Anglican tradition possesses “a unique capacity of diversity... there are different dimensions of truth.”
Seminaries: A dean of a mainline divinity school said “each culture develops [its] own reality or truth” and when asked, replied that he does not believe in absolute truth. And perhaps more incredible is when he went on to say that he believes that what Hitler did was right in his culture but wrong in ours.
Church goers: Stress acceptance of differences, tolerate uncertainty, have a strong commitment to individulism, and accept that variety in truth claims is inevitable. Not only that, but they also are becoming more reluctant to make claims of ultimate authority for Christianity, few agree that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, and few agree that Christ is the only source of absolute truth!!

As soon as Christ’s kingdom comes to terms with the world, Christianity is abolished.
Søren Kierkegaard

By the Book: meaning vs. Significance

The meaning of a text never changes.
The significance of that text to me and others is flexible.

The problem is when we confuse significance for meaning, when the reader “creates meaning.” This reduces the Bible to a self-help manual and takes away its authority and power.

Some things we need to do:

Examine our own faith and practice. Do you regard the Bible as God’s inspired word? Remember, there is no substitute for a familiarity with and knowledge of the Bible.
The question is not “What does it mean to me?” The questions are “What does it mean?” and “How do I apply it?”
Resist attempts to decide what a text means but try instead to discern the meaning. Know the rules of Bible interpretation.
Parents: Do not delegate the Christian education of your children to the church. It is your responsiblity.

When the new tolerance threatens to destroy your church, remember that those in the
church are susceptible to the same needs as those outside: for acceptance, for affection, for approval, for attention, for support and for respect. We need to make the most of every opportunity to demonstrate that real Christian love trumps “tolerance” everytime, remembering that humility is the recognition that we all are no more than sinners saved by God’s grace.

In Conclusion...

It is good to always have in mind that Jesus answered his critics by dying for them as well as for his followers. As his followers, we can do no better than to selflessly love and bless those who oppose the church and the gospel.

Jesus did not only send the gospel
He did not just preach the good news
He became flesh
He came down to our level
He experienced humanity
He lived amoung us
He hurt with us
He cried with us
He laughed with us
He gave his life for us.

Since Christ lives in us, we have the power to live our lives such as to impart the Word of truth relationally as well as with our words. We need to demonstrate that Christ is both evidentially credible and relationally relevant.

Develop Community – John 13:34-35
Show Compassion – Psalm 146:5-9, II Corinthians 1:4
Protect Creation – Genesis 1:28 and 2:15
Model Close Marital and Family Relationships – Ephesians 5:25-31
Offer a Compelling Personal Testimony – Revelation 12:10-11

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