The modern Church has, both consciously and unconsciously, embraced and applied the deconstructionist “living document” literary theory for the purpose of redefining traditional Christian doctrines and values to conform to their actual antithesis. As farfetched as this might seem at first glance, this fact was recently made very clear to me. A former friend of mine commented on a picture posted on Facebook concerning the Boer genocide by blacks in South Africa, saying, “The answer is not white people, but Jesus.” The first question that comes to mind is what he exactly means by “Jesus.” Of course, it is true that we must always put our faith and trust in Christ for deliverance and glorify Him in all our thoughts and actions, but if one were to merely stand by and observe the murder of an innocent victim, only to comment: “the answer is Jesus”, it would not honour Christ, but dishonour Him. Furthermore, what makes this specific comment particularly worrying is that Christ’s providence brought white people to Africa to better the state of the continent in many respects and spread the gospel here – and the attack on Christ’s elect is surely an attack on the true Christ Himself, though apparently my former friend’s “Jesus” stands apathetic towards this.
Another introductory example I would like to reference, where the Church has discarded orthodoxy in favour of heresy by redefining a term, is concerning the doctrine of predestination. The Bible and all orthodox Calvinists taught the doctrine in terms of God’s election of His children in Christ and rejection of the reprobate outside of Christ (Rom. 9:6-23). The Swiss anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth, whose neo-orthodox ecclesiology has been previously discussed here, also reinterpreted and redefined “predestination” to mean, by implication, the exact opposite of what this biblical doctrine teaches. He taught that God predestined Christ, and in Christ all men are predestined, to the extent that he eventually allowed for the possibility of universalism1, effectively denying Christianity. Similarly, many other doctrines and definitions have been used (and abused) by the modern Church to convey a meaning foreign to the biblical intent. In this article, I will proceed to give a biblical exposition of another doctrine the modern Church has redefined to suit its cultural Marxist agenda: the doctrine of tolerance. This doctrine has popularly come to mean that Christians should make friends with unbelievers and not judge, but tolerate them and their actions. They must be treated as equals and with the same love with which a Christian treats a brother in Christ. One must tolerate sinners and sinful behaviour to the extent that the distinction between good and evil becomes blurred and consequently the only thriving worldview is a nihilistic one, since that is the only worldview that does not distinguish between moral and immoral or between orthodox and heretical.
In order to understand the true doctrine of Christian tolerance, one has to take a look at what the Bible says regarding this concept. Many Scriptural references to the concept of tolerance are in regard to a disposition of God towards men (Matt. 17:17; Acts 13:18; Rom. 2:4; 3:25; 9:22; Hebr. 12:3) and thus fall outside of the subject treated here. Tolerance, as a disposition of the believer, however, is in Scripture first mentioned by King David in Ps. 101:5, where the monarch of Israel clearly states that he will not tolerate him who “secretly slanders” or has “a haughty look” or a “proud heart” in his kingdom; only the “faithful of the land” may walk with him. Here, some form of tolerance towards sinners is clearly shown to be sinful, something which ought not to be pursued by Christians.
In the apostle Paul’s epistles to the Church in Corinth, the idea of tolerance is a theme that comes up frequently. In 1 Cor. 4:12, Paul exclaims how he and his co-workers tolerate (ἀνεχόμεθα) all the sufferings that comes with being missionaries in the ancient Roman Empire for Christ’s sake. Again, in 9:12, he states that he and his co-workers tolerate (στέγομεν2) all things, so as not to be a hindrance to the furthering of the gospel. This is followed by a promise from the Spirit through Paul that God would not allow His children to be tempted above what they are able to endure or tolerate (ὑπενεγκεῖν). The final reference in the first letter to the congregation in Corinth is in chapter 13 on love, where Paul famously states in verse 7 that love “endures all things.” When one reads this reference to the endurance or tolerance of things that accompanies true love within the context of the entire book, it becomes quite evident that such tolerance has nothing whatsoever to do with the contemporary postmodern idea of tolerating unbiblical worldviews or behaviour contrary to God’s law, as the modern Church desires us to believe. Instead, it strictly refers to enduring sufferings that necessarily occur in the lives of the faithful as they live out their calling according to God’s will, in a world that is full of the church-persecuting enemies of God. Tolerance, in the sense most modern Christians apply it, is granted by the author to be closer to the sense in which Paul uses it in 2 Corinthians 11:1, but here he does apply it sarcastically. This is also evident in verse 19, on which Matthew Henry comments: “These words may be ironical, and then the meaning is this: ’Notwithstanding all your wisdom, you willingly suffer yourselves to be brought into bondage under the Jewish yoke, or suffer others to tyrannize over you; nay, to devour you, or make a prey of you, and take of you hire for their own advantage, and to exalt themselves above you, and lord it over you; nay, even to smite you on the face, or impose upon you to your very faces, upbraiding you while they reproach me, as if you had been very weak in showing regard to me’”3.
The final reference to the concept of tolerance in the Scripture that need to be addressed is Ephesians 4:1-3, a text which has often been abused to justify the Belhar Confession and the Marxist unity for which it calls. The text reads: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This passage has been wrongly interpreted by cultural Marxists, and even by many in the modern evangelical movement, to mean that Christian unity is something to be pursued at the expense of truth. But, as Rev. McAtee rightly identifies, unity for the sake of unity is not Christian unity. What this passage truly conveys is that we should live according to God’s law – our calling – and furthermore bear one another and thereby keep the unity. We do not establish unity by neglecting God-given distinctions; we preserve the unity by bearing and loving one another – which obviously (unless one is a neo-Platonist) includes loving and respecting someone’s physical makeup as a God-given part of his identity. (Such love might manifest itself in our advocacy for homogeneous churches.) More importantly, for our current exegetical emphasis, the tolerance and love mentioned here do not extend to unbelievers, or even to the acts of believers which are contrary to God’s law. Thus, Christian tolerance does not extend beyond the scope of that which is permissible according to God’s law – the true Church, therefore, knows no religious tolerance in the sense it is understood by mainline Christianity today.
Christians should be intolerant towards both sin itself and unbelievers in general (Ps. 101:5; 139:21-22; Jude 23) and identify and judge them with a righteous judgment (John 7:24), i.e. according to God’s Law-Word. Christian tolerance can apply only to fellow believers suffering from certain weaknesses and to suffering that occurs for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom. Any other religious tolerance is merely a tool for cultural Marxists in their mission to establish a neo-Babelist World Order opposed to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.
In part two of this series, I will proceed to show how the false re-interpretation of the doctrine of Christian tolerance, as well as the original intent of the term “religious freedom,” have affected the civil sphere and led to religious pluralism, directly contrary to God-honouring, theonomic civil ethics.