Greg Koukl discusses the question of intolerance, inclusivism, and Christianity
Is Christianity intolerant?
Well, ask yourself what the word means. Doesn’t belief in something mean rejecting some other things? Always. Pluralism, for example, rejects anything that doesn’t agree with pluralism. So pluralism is intolerant of non-pluralism.
It’s interesting how words become exhaustively negative despite their context. Intolerance and discrimination among them. Everyone discriminates in positive ways, such as when we reject an application for a teaching position because a background check shows the person is a sex offender. Discrimination instead becomes synonymous with prejudice, rather than critically distinguishing. Intolerance, rather than meaning “not putting up with”, instead becomes synonymous with “hate”. The absurdity shows itself when people speak proudly of being intolerant of intolerance.
What does it mean to tolerate murder? What does it mean to tolerate a ridiculous tax? What does it mean to tolerate that weird guy next door? What does it mean to tolerate a broken radiator? What does it mean to tolerate when your spouse sneezes funny? Are all these these the same? And how do these tolerations and intolerations play out?
Years ago a lot of civil rights advocates were talking about how they didn’t want “tolerance” for blacks because if you were black, did you just want to be “tolerated”? I mean, how would you feel if after years of being downtrodden a society looked at you and just said, “we will tolerate you, I suppose.”?
You may not agree with all of his statements, but please focus on Koukl’s biggest point. And Koukl’s biggest point, I think, is that when you answer the question “Is Christianity the only way?” with a mere “yes” you are walking into a trap in which nobody wins.
Use sound wisdom, not sound bites.
Christianity is not exhaustively inclusive, but I will tell you ways in which I believe Christianity is inclusive:
Everyone is loved.
Everyone is invited.
Everyone can get in.
Everyone must put on Christ to enter his Kingdom.
But this does imply that you have to love in return, you have to accept the invitation, that you have to walk in, and you have to put on the Christ. But you are fully included in the call to come and take up all of this.
Everyone’s invited to the grand feast. But you have to show up, you have to chew the food to eat it, and you have to honor the host.
And if you’re already come to a conclusion about Christianity that has led you to reject it, I ask you this: How tolerant are you, and what is your criteria for what you will tolerate, include, or not discriminate against? Because one thing Jesus was clear about is that you should hold yourself to the same criteria you have for others.