Tuesday, August 2

It's hard being Tolerant.

Two qualities that really attracted me to the liberal side of Christianity were "tolerance" and "open-mindedness". Kierkegaard's notion that we should be objective to ourselves but subjective to others is a great principle to live by, and looking around I saw that Christendom was in grave need of a principle like this. Christianity is too often associated with a loathing of different beliefs and condemnation to those with different lifestyles.

Tolerant, however, is a very hard thing to be. I found this out very early in my change of theology. At bookstores when I was searching for a new book I would excitedly read through the authors who were known for their 'different' and 'heretical' doctrines, and pass the more conservative titles with an exhausted grunt. If I looked at the blurb at the back of the book and read anything that even remotely resembled something dogmatic and 'close-minded' I would put it back down, making a smirk concerning how silly some people can be. I was not being tolerant or open-minded, I merely tolerated the people I didn’t use to tolerate, and then not tolerate the people I used to tolerate.

Soon I begun to realize what was going on, and that a lot of liberal Christians (especially the ones coming out of fundamentalism) are in the exact same boat. They spend all of their energy criticizing and mocking the opponent, instead of working out what they believe themselves and arguing for that. Of course this is a very natural reaction, if somebody gets hurt or spiritually abused from fundamentalism; it is natural for them to start despising it. But it is not Christian to start hating it.

With Christ's maxim to loves ones enemy, it is implied that everybody's enemies will be someone different. For the fundamentalist the intolerance will be towards gays and liberals, for the liberals and gays it will be fundamentalists. There is no virtue in changing camps, even if you start to tolerate a lot more people than you used to, if there is still a kind of person that you abhor. I am sick of liberal Christians disrespecting and mocking fundamentalist Christians, only because fundamentalists do it just as much. We need to keep in mind the Christ-like principles of "turning the other cheek" or "overcoming evil with love" or "to love those that hate you". Fundamentalists aren't even evil or hateful, so this intolerant situation a lot of liberals are in is even more absurd! I am willing to admit that this is one of my many weaknesses; I just wish that the more high-profile progressives and liberals would be willing to admit the same.


Blogger PimpPia said...

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5:54 PM  
Blogger SteveJ said...

While I'm not "high profile" in any sense of the term, I admit that you are dead on. Often, our vaunted tolerance only extends to certain favored groups. Others seem to be fair game.

This is especially true in politics, where it's now in vogue among liberal Christians in the U.S. to say the ugliest, meanest things about political right-wingers. I've never before seen so much vile invective coming out of people who name the name of Jesus and prattle on about their tolerance.

1:13 AM  
Blogger BruceA said...

I find that my tolerance toward conservatives usually reflects their tolerance toward me. That bothers me, because I don't want their behavoir to be my role model. It's an ongoing struggle.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Isaac Cherian said...

I think tolerance is not accepting the other person's beleif. Tolerance is saying that i do not accept your views but we can keep dialogue on the topic and also on others topics too.

10:33 AM  
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1:47 PM  

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