Should Christians Be Tolerant Of Other People’s Religious Beliefs?
In this age of “Tolerance” this question is becoming more and more common in the church. The common place of this question is not a production of the church itself but rather the culture having its influence on the church. Let me try to explain what I mean.
The issue before us as we talk about tolerance towards other faiths is more complex than a simple yes or no answer. For example: What does the question mean to the individual asking it at that moment? To discover that, we must ask the questioner, “What does tolerance mean to you?”
Does “Tolerance” mean to tolerate? To put up with? To allow the freedom to exist? Or does “tolerance” mean to validate? To acknowledge the validity of? Or does “tolerance” go even further in the mind of the questioner and mean to embrace or see as equal?
So the original question again comes to us. “Should Christians be tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs?”
Our current culture in America tells us that absolutely we should be tolerant. We should embrace the other belief systems and see them as equally valid. Is that what the Bible teaches? Throughout the history of the people of Israel, God directed the Israelites to destroy the temples of the pagan Gods—Not Very Tolerant.
You see, the issue before us is not one of “love” and “acceptance” as the culture tells us it is. The issue does not even begin with what other religions believe. The issue is whether or not WE believe what the Bible teaches us about Christ.
Christ himself says in John 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Acts 4:12 says: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Do we believe Jesus? Do we believe the teaching of the Bible that Jesus is the only way to God? That all other religions are mankind trying in vain to reach up to God, but only in Christ do we find the chasm between God and mankind bridged by God sending Christ to die for mankind?
That is the real question before us. Do we believe? If we do, if we truly believe that those who do not know Christ are missing out on the one way to have an eternal relationship with their Creator—how then are we behaving?
How then do we view religious beliefs that point the people God loves in directions that take them away from Christ? How did Jesus himself react when sellers moved into the temple courts and made it difficult for people to worship God? (See Mark Chapter 11) Do we truly believe? The answer to this question needs to affect how we react to every person who doesn’t know Christ, religious and non-religious alike.
So, what is the loving response to the unbeliever if we truly believe what the Bible teaches? What do we do with the Bible’s assertion that we are all lost without Christ and destined to pay the due penalty for our sins?
Love demands that our response must be to preach the gospel—to share the love and truth of Christ! We cannot do this if we communicate or perpetuate the lie that a non-Christian belief system is valid.
Should we “tolerate” the person? Absolutely! We must go beyond tolerance and LOVE the lost, not simply tolerate and put up with them but embrace them and serve them with the love of Jesus.
Should we tolerate/validate/accept non-Christian belief? NOT if we LOVE. But love does not stop with actions. Love also speaks the truth. Love speaks the truth (lovingly) even when it knows that the consequences of that truth may be rejection and ridicule. Love stands for truth regardless of consequences because Love does not consider its own status as important. Love puts others first.
So let us stop listening to the lies of our culture. Let us once again allow GOD to teach us what love is (1 John 3:16). Let us forget the social expectations of a world to which we do not belong. Let us instead, follow the example of Christ, living and loving and speaking the truth, no matter the cost.
Pastor Brian TorresFebruary 1, 2013