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March 02, 2012

Comments

You have to define tolerant.

I'd define tolerant as, even though I don't agree with you I have no objection to you thinking or doing what you please and have no intention of taking any action to stop you.

In the politically correct world, tolerance seems to mean that I accept your view as completely equivalent to my own in all respects and if there is any conflict I will disavow my own beliefs and champion yours as superior without ewxpecting you to make the same declaration.

Actually American Christians aren't tolerant of those who disagree that charity can be a part of church's expression of rejection of capitalism and embracing of the pure communism that the first century church practiced when they sold their goods and shared with those in their Christian community that were in need. But to suggest that the word "communism" carries any other meaning than that of the twisted perversion that Marxism made it into, is something to be tossed out on its ear over the threshold of the church. To suggest that there was ever a pure first century church communism that included a loving God who came to rescue humanity is to almost be branded a heretic. To suggest that such a thing is even possible is to paint a bull's eye on your back as a target for Christian intolerance. There is a reason for this and that is because we Christians have become far more attached to the affluence that Capitalism offers than were the first century Christians who were far more interested in laying down their lives for the faith than padding their coffers with worldly goods. Christian, if it is time for full disclosure to the mind of that which lies in your heart regarding where your treasure lies. Isn't it time to see "It's the best system we have because the others are so much worse." as nothing more than what it is...an excuse that is refuted by first century church practices?

Trent,

By that reasoning, does persuasion or political implementation count as "taking an action to stop you"?

So for instance, if I try to persuade someone that they should be tolerant, is that very act intolerant? Or if I support policies that impose a standard of tolerance, is that very act intolerant?

Amen to the Christian obligation to not be intolerant.

I wonder what Melinda has in mind concerning the censorship issue, however. She says that Christians are censored from even expressing their opinions. Censored by whom and by what means?

I certainly agree with this. Non-negligible segments of the culture are pretty suspicious of what Christians are really up to when expressing some of their opinions, and this may impose a social stigma on Christians expressing these views. The example that comes to mind is, of course, homosexuality. The topic of homosexuality is a large and complicated topic covering a multitude of issues all worthy of discussion. All of the following, for instance, come to mind:

(a) The causes of homosexual orientation in men as opposed to women. Are there differences or not?
(b) The harms and burdens that homosexuals endure in religious environments as opposed to non-religious environments.
(c) The religiosity of homosexuals and how they relate to religion in America.
(d) What unaided natural reason tells us (or doesn’t!) about issues in sexual ethics raised by homosexuality.
(e) Whether or not an accommodationist theology tells us something about the wisdom behind some of the recommendations Christians who disapprove of homosexuality give to homosexuals.
(f) Whether or not extending the rights and benefits of marriage to gay couples raising children would benefit those families.
(g) The role of the Bible in American public discourse about homosexuality. What does the Bible say about the issue, and how has it influenced public discourse about it?

Despite the fact that these are all worthy topics of discussion, usually when evangelicals talk about homosexuality it is only in order to say the following:

(h) We are strongly opposed same-sex marriage.
(i) Whether or not homosexuality has in part a genetic basis, we consider homosexual behavior evil.

I’ve never turned on Christian radio and heard (b), (d), (e), or (f) discussed. The only thing I hear is (h) and (i). Of course, this is anecdotal evidence, so take that for what it’s worth.

I think it is hardly surprising that if, in the overwhelming majority of cases, evangelicals talk about homosexuality merely in order to say (h) and (i) while remaining silent about the multitude of other issues relevant to the topic , then evangelicals are going to develop a reputation for being far more concerned about their own cultural influence and highly disputable religious dogmas than they are about being sensible about issues surrounding homosexuality. I mention “cultural influence” because it is hard to not think that in many ways conservative evangelicals are noticing that their cultural influence is waning and so they are doing what they can to stop that or at least slow it down. It seems to me that homosexuality gets so much ink in evangelical circles because they view it as a huge loss for them in their culture war. But if evangelicals seem to care so much about homosexuality because they are chiefly concerned with retaining the cultural power and influence they’ve had in the past, then their discourse about homosexuality will not seem motivated by an informed and intelligent concern for homosexuals but will seem defensive, strategic, and self-serving. Once they develop that reputation, then of course non-negligible segments of the culture will be suspicious of what they are really up to when discussing homosexuality. Once that suspicion becomes deep-seated, then of course that kind of evangelical discourse will be mocked, satirized, and stigmatized. But by that point evangelicals will have earned those stigmas and suspicions, and will certainly have no right to play the role of the blameless innocent victim who through no fault of her own has to live in a culture suspicious of her motives.

Malebranche,

You say: "evangelicals are going to develop a reputation for being far more concerned about their own cultural influence and highly disputable religious dogmas than they are about being sensible about issues surrounding homosexuality."

Can you give some sort of argument for that? For instance, what if Evangelicals answer the question in the following way:

(a) No one knows yet. Right now it's not an important issue.
(b) Many of the "harms" homosexuals receive from religious environments are illusory.
(d)[You haven't stated this clearly, not sure what you mean]
(e) It doesn't.
(f) It wouldn't.

Would those answers give us a reputation for being sensible in those areas? Or will we ultimately need to give a certain kind of answer (e.g., (f) It would)?

To think that Evangelicals merely need to speak on those issues, irregardless of the content of that speech, is a bit naive, don't you think? And it seems that if Evangelicals speak on those issues (I have heard them do so before) the public most likely wouldn't like what they are saying, because their underlying presuppositions and source of authority is different.

You said: "It seems to me that homosexuality gets so much ink in evangelical circles because they view it as a huge loss for them in their culture war."

It seems to me homosexuality gets so much ink in evangelical circles because homosexuals and homosexual sympathizers are pushing the issue so hard in the public square. Seems to me, evangelicals were talking about homosexuality just as much as they were before courts overturned things like Prop. 8. ...unless you have some evidence to the contrary.

You said: "But if evangelicals seem to care so much about homosexuality because they are chiefly concerned with retaining the cultural power and influence they’ve had in the past, then their discourse about homosexuality will not seem motivated by an informed and intelligent concern for homosexuals but will seem defensive, strategic, and self-serving."

This just seems like a twisted perception of why evangelicals talk about homosexuality. The person espousing such a theory (you) would need to give some evidence of the charge. Evangelicals claim to be opposing homosexuality because Scripture opposes it and because it is being pushed by non-Christians and liberal Christians in the public square. What reason do we have to impute nefarious power-grab motives to them?

Louis,

Yous said: "charity can be a part of church's expression of rejection of capitalism"

I'm not sure what this means, unless you think charity is, in its essence, somehow opposed to capitalism.

But that would be a very strange view of both charity and capitalism.

Malebranche,

While looking down the blogroll just now I saw this:

"The editorial board of the New York Times can't understand how anyone could, or why anyone would, oppose homosexual "marriage" (hint: it's called justice), so it resorts to impugning motives. This shows the desperation of progressives." (from keithburgess-jackson[dot]typepad[dot]com)

Seems your suggesting they take the same tactic, impugning motives.

But if they do this, they won't be taken seriously by evangelicals, they'll just see it as an act of desperation.

;)

Jonathan,

Are you intolerant of my view?

Louis,

Have a care not to equivocate between "community" "communal" and "communism". There's a great difference between an in-ground of brothers and sisters living together for their shared good, and a bunch of unrelated people being forced into a false egalatarianism under a priveleged set of overlords.

Obviously the communal (as opposed to Communist) ideal works with Christian communities. What do you think monastaries and nunneries are?

Anyone who doesn't agree with Barack Obama, homosexuality/same-sex marriage, and a host of other hot topics in our culture is automatically labeled "intolerant".

It's just name calling to shut you up. Don't fall for it!

Jonathan
"I'm not sure what this means, unless you think charity is, in its essence, somehow opposed to capitalism.

But that would be a very strange view of both charity and capitalism."

First of all thank you for not pouncing on me right off the bat. I think that says a lot about your character. I think that capitalism can oppose charity by directing focus away from it. Christianity focuses squarely on it. In a way, when one becomes a Christian, he does take a step away from it, but more, he steps toward monarchy with God as sovereign and I think that step was a form of Christian Communism. Though it is under monarchy that charity achieves it's full bloom(with God as sovreign) and I think that the first century church discovered this very early on, but with theocracy being done away with they adopted something else, and as a result had all things in common when it comes to possession. It was not the kind of communism that is imposed by a totalitarian human dictator, but was driven by compatibalist dictates of the regenerated hearts of the believers. I accept that this may seem strange to you, but that is hardly surprising as first century church was considered by outsiders to be odd in their beliefs and practices. It is simply at odds with what most American Christians have been brought up with as the best possible model for Christian living. I don't think that capitalism is that model.

Bennett

"Have a care not to equivocate between "community" "communal" and "communism". There's a great difference between an in-ground of brothers and sisters living together for their shared good, and a bunch of unrelated people being forced into a false egalatarianism under a priveleged set of overlords."

If we take a look at the practices of the believers it is clear that the ideal parallels the ideal of communism in the first century church, but with a central difference that it was not false egalitarianism under conditions you describe. My slightly earlier post points out that difference. That difference is critical for preventing the kind of perversion of the concept under Marxist regimes.

Louis,

Indeed. I think you'd have an easier time selling the idea if you looked at G.K. Chesterton's notion of "Distributism", which is more elegantly reasoned, more practical, more suited to social norms and mores which have developed in recent millenia, and also doesn't have the loaded language of "socialist" or "Communist" attached to it, which instantly calls most people to think of atheistic, totalitarian regimes.

When I think of christian intolerance I think of death and rape threats towards a 16 year old girl

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/02/01/high-school-atheist-wins-unsurprising-court-case-gets-death-threats-why/

It is nice that Christians are supposed to be tolerant, but a good number of them are not no matter what definition of tolerance you are using.

Also, to those complaining that as a christian you are censored, atheists are not permitted to put up a billboard, no matter how inoffensive.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/02/those-radical-offensive-atheists/

"When I think of christian intolerance I think of death and rape threats towards a 16 year old girl"

And when I think of Christian intolerance, I think of ice cream and root beer. One of has a psychological problem. Shall we continue comparing autobiographies, or did you have some data to mix in with these anecdotes?

Trent wrote: "I'd define tolerant as, even though I don't agree with you I have no objection to you thinking or doing what you please and have no intention of taking any action to stop you."

I'd alter that slightly to read: Tolerance is disagreeing with somebody, but still treating them with respect and courtesy and consideration. I certainly wouldn't deprive myself of the right to speak out against somebody's deadly beliefs or opinions just because I'm going to be labelled intolerant.

I do agree that some people have redefined tolerance to mean accepting whatever anybody else believes as if it's perfectly valid and good. That's not tolerance. That's stupidity.

I always tell people that, when I speak out against abortion or homosexuality or promiscuity or any other sin, I am indeed being intolerant. I am, in fact, intolerant of anything that keeps people from connecting with God and living an abundant life with him in this world and forever with him in the next. May I always be intolerant of those things!

Shall we continue comparing autobiographies, or did you have some data to mix in with these anecdotes?

uhh, I provided a link. This just happened like a month ago. I'm confused by your comment.

I'm aware it happened. What does it prove about the other 2.1 billion Christians? The most that your link could prove is "Teenagers behave immaturely toward one another: react with immaturity," which is a dog-bites-man headline if ever there was one. And really, a single incident doesn't even inductively prove *that*, although it certainly is plausible.

There's a certain logical inconsistency between acting like a jerk and being a Christian. It's a bit like being an optimistic nihilist, or a gallant misogynist. You must choose one or the other.

Certainly there are churchgoers who act an embarassing fool, but they're proving themselves un-Christian in so doing, rather than providing evidence of much of anything for or against the truth claims and moral tenets of Christian Theism.

Just because you "don't get it" doesn't mean it's BS. I'm sure you've thought about these matters a lot, but shallow, repetitive thinking is like half-hearted, repetitive exercise. It just makes you more efficient at a silly movement that isn't actually improving you.

Also, this is really what I think of when I think of intolerant Christians. Not that people are actually like that, but just that sketch

http://www.hulu.com/watch/4151/saturday-night-live-church-chat

It does us all some good to realize that our own mental associations may have nothing to do with whether a thing is true in most or all cases. I live in the Bible Belt, and have yet to run across anyone in my (rather large) church who has ever threatened a teenaged girl, or anyone else, with death for *anything.*

And just as side note, Hausdorff, "freethoughtblogs" is not exactly an unbiased news source to use as a citation. It wouldn't fly in a university classroom, and it certainly won't fly in the comments section of a Christian philosophy website. You do yourself no favors using op-ed pieces to get your news.

Think for yourself.

Bennett

"I think you'd have an easier time selling the idea if you looked at G.K. Chesterton's notion of "Distributism", "

You are far more insightful than you realize. You have put your finger on the fact that I lack the "salesman gene"(if there is such a thing) or even an inclination in that direction. I'll see if I can dig up some info on Distributism by G.K. and see how it squares with my views. I appreciate your posting the reference.

Intolerant: Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions,practices,or beliefs[especially religous beliefs].

Tolerate: To allow the existence,occurrence,or practice of [something that one does not necessarily like or agree with]without interference; Accept or endure something or someone unpleasant or disliked with forebearance.

Tolerant: Inclined or disposed to tolerate; showing tolerance.

First,I'd like to take my hat off and solute the wholehearted honesty of mary Lou who seems unafraid to state the obvious. That's a step in the right direction if we should gain any success in really getting to the bottom of the issue of the Christian tolerance/intolerance issue.

Why are we trying to change,transform,or compromise what intolerance or tolerance is as if we have to justify or hide the fact that a majority of the Christain population are intolerant concerning certian issues(homosexuality,abortion etc.)? I don't mean outwardly,but in our hearts. Don't be fooled. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Unfortunately, it's when we act hypocritically nice and loving to,let's say the gay community,and then talk horrendously behind their backs and cruelly condemn them that we may incur problems upon ourselves before God. The only reason why we as Christians can't,or apparently will not,do much to change the rules and regulations pertaining to controversal religous and moral issues is because we hardly have the legal political access to protest without running into the threat of doing jail time for dtanding up for our rights. I guarantee it that if we had that access and permission,most of us would not waste another second more. That's why we share our bottled up feelings of intolerance in various Christian blogsites.

I submit that we as Christains can't wholeheartedly be tolerant of everything which is contrary to our beliefs or opinions,so why deny it? If we weren't intolerant especially in our hearts,we wouldn't have countless blogs posting and displaying our utter disgust at those things. Of course there is no doubt that we do show OUTWARD tolerance for people and endure cultural and religous differences,but let's not be hiding the inner disgust and utter contempt and inner intolerance that we have for the obvious practices and things deemed contrary to our beliefs. God looks at the heart. If I can't tolerate something that a person is doing,I can be loving but still very vocal, and if given the permission,I'd probably go to a certain extent or means to stop it. That's real talk. But,this is far from what Christ commanded us concerning love...

Continued from my last comments...

Of course,Christ did not like sin,but He truly tolerated sinful people from the deep depths of His heart because He always knew what the end would be for them and the sin itself. The heart that our Lord Jesus has did not dwell upon the present condition of the sinful people but on their future transformation and reconciliation to God. Yet,in many instances in Scriptures,we do find that Christ actually displayed both outward and inward intolerance concerning certain issues of His day, but what were those issues? Those issues were hypocrisy,blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,and His disgust at the descecration of His Temple. Ultimately,He focused on the issues OF THE HEART and not nececessarily on the controversal issues that we have today.

I would certainlly lean towards the 60/40 split between Christians being both tolerant and intolerant(too nice??)--with the 60 percent displaying intolerance. We may be outwardly tolerant,but I don't belive that most of us in Christendom display much tolerance from the heart.

It surely sounds like Melinda's post is indicating that there's something apparently wrong with being intolerant,and she may be trying to justify or deny the intolerance altogether. I don't think that there's anything wrong with being classified as intolerant towards certain controversal issues,yet it's more sufficient for our faith that we as Christians do tolerate certain things(staying within the context of the definitions I stated earlier)just like how our Master and Mentor,Jesus Christ,did without an ounce of hypocrisy from His heart. Some of us Christians need to go back to Christ's School of the Spirit again to re-learn how to see more into the glorious prophecied future that He has for us instead of dwelling and complaining on today's horrendous issues. Jesus said that we would encounter opposition,tribulation,persecution and intolerant worldly behaviours. What did He encourage us to do? "Fear not" because He has OVERCOME the world.

We shouldn't be surprised at the high level of immorality in our present world. I'm not saying that we should just sit back and do nothing,but we should be MORE UNDERSTANDING to why controversal things exist,and be awaiting the day for when Christ will put an end to all the controversy of sin instead of us always complaining and getting riled up over what God has ultimately intended,predestined and placed in His own power according to His sovereign will.

Let me reiterate: I'm not saying that we should sit back and do absolutely nothing. We should still stand up for what we believe YET BE MORE UNDERSTANDING AND NOT HYPOCRITICAL towards the differences of opinions or moral issues of others. If we as Christains are indeed intolerant,let's not try to justify or lie about it. If we as Christians are truly tolerant,let's make sure that we mean it from our hearts because at the end of the day,God is looking only at our hearts. That's real talk.

Hausdorff
Do you really believe that a majority of Christians are actively engaged in intolerant acts against atheists or other religions or homosexuals?
WHERE?
You really need to dig deep or get quiet "historical" in order to hold that view.
....but just go to the next "gay-pride" event and hold up a sign like "homosexuality is a sin" or "the Lord can set you free". You will end up in jail and get charged with a "hate-crime".
Tolerance is not something we should expect or demand. Tolerance is something we should first and foremost give.
I am a christian. I love and tolerate my friends and neighbours, no matter if they are atheists or muslims or live together unmarried or are in samesex relations.
....but you would be surprised how many of them stopped talking to me when I put up my "Yes on Prop.8" sign. Can you tolerate a conservative and christian worldview? Or do you just expect us to tolerate yours??
Is it "hate-speech" when people mock christianity and/or the bible? Can you tolerate that old Cross on the mountain? How many people do you know who are actively engaged in intolerant acts against christians and/or their beliefs? Are you asking them as well to be more tolerant?

You gotta love the comment section.

Someone writes 2 paragraphs exhorting us to love and pray for our enemies based on scripture.

Melebranch writes another novel on homosexuality and the comment thread goes wild.

Hausdorff

I can't find it now, but CARM had a link on it's facebook page to a story about a 14 year old girl that made a statement against same-sex marriage and got comments ranging from her parents should be exterminated, asking for her murder as a birthday present, and hoping that her married parents rape her.

Where is the tolerance here?

That is a bit extreme.

Disagreement does not equate to hate. But that’s what people would have us believe today. Why? Because our grounds for disagreement are PERCEIVED as unscientific.

Think about it.

• We believe in a literal 6-day creation; which scientists have ‘conclusively proved inaccurate’. Therefore Christians are intolerant bigots.

• We don’t agree with AGW scientists. So we’re seen as unscientific. Therefore Christians are intolerant bigots.

• We don’t agree with gay marriage, which science is perceived to have adjudged as kosher. So we’re seen as unscientific. Therefore Christians are intolerant bigots.

• We believe that porn is harmful; which social scientists have deemed quite innocuous. Therefore Christians are intolerant bigots.

• We believe in The Bible as the Word of God, even though it’s ‘replete with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, contradictions, sexist attitudes and violence’. Therefore Christians are intolerant bigots.

So while the world understands that disagreement does not equate with hate, the world believes that we have no valid grounds for disagreement. Hence it labels us intolerant.

There is nothing we can do except be faithful to the teaching of the Word - without compromise and without fear; and pray that the Spirit would use that to bring souls to faith. And yes, it would help to encourage upcoming generations to excel in the sciences so that they can be a powerful witness within scientific communities as to the truth of The Bible.

We need more Lennoxes and Polkinghornes. Along with heaps more MacArthurs and Sprouls.

We need more lives submitted to Christ.

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