|If we could see into the heart of most Canadians, I believe we would see a little goddess called “see-no-evil” perched prominently on their souls. I think the same goddess is carried by multitudes of Christians into services every Sunday.
It has been observed that if you keep telling people the same lie over and over again, it will finally be accepted as true. The fact is, propaganda works. For some time now, the major institutions in Canadian society have tirelessly indoctrinated the “truth” of tolerance-above-all-things. And she is now accepted my millions as the highest good.
This wreaks tremendous havoc on the task assigned to Christian pastors. They are mandated to preach objective, eternal truths about sin, forgiveness, righteousness and judgement. But we are now at the point that pastors who do speak of right and wrong, who do not shy away from speaking of sin and who actually call for repentance are sometimes viewed as intolerant, judgemental, and even un-Christian. How did this happen? Simply put, many Christians have been more thoroughly discipled and indoctrinated by cultural voices than by the voices of their pastors.
This is not a new problem for God’s people, for the chosen people in the Old Testament over and over again fell for false gods and abandoned the true God. The church in every age is in constant battle as the surrounding culture exerts tremendous pressure for her to accept things that are not true. To contend well for the faith, leaders must be cognizant of the various false gods. One reason why tolerance has done so much damage for so long is simply because she is not recognized as a false deity. She is just so ‘Canadian,’ so much like motherhood and maple trees that to think of her as false and dangerous is almost unthinkable.
Now, some may take issue with my naming tolerance a false god. But if god can be defined as the organizing principle around which a society revolves, then surely tolerance fits well into the definition.
Now there is an aspect of tolerance that is good and noble. Webster’s Dictionary defines tolerance as: “Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.” So, when we tolerate, we simply allow the other guy to live and breathe and practise his outlook on life. We may disagree with his values. We may have to indulge some things we don’t like, but that’s okay. Hey, he’s free to disagree with us, too. Tolerance teaches us to live and let live. This is truly a virtue in any society.
But while some practice of tolerance is good, tolerating the wrong things becomes an evil. What do I mean? Tolerance of differences in non-essentials to the faith, such as customs, race, food, clothing, etc. is a virtue, but tolerance of killing the innocent as in abortion, or tolerating sexual promiscuity or perversity or tolerating the destruction of marriage is a completely different matter. In the post-modern era that has discarded objective truth, and cites daily the mantra that “all truths are relative,” tolerance has morphed into a see-no-evil goddess. Tolerance today embraces not only an overlooking of relatively insignificant differences, but has taken on the understanding of embracing, accepting, approving and even celebrating what our fathers and mothers would have called sinful and evil.
Just how dangerous is this see-no-evil, I-tolerate-everything goddess? I have confidence that God’s care over his church will not fail. But humanly speaking, we pastors face a most dangerous entity. For what the historic church has always declared to be right and wrong is being turned on its head by tolerant ones who whitewash evil. Weakened believers overlook harmful sin in others, and fall prey to sin themselves, because their goddess tells them everything must be tolerated. And perhaps most serious of all, we leaders are often tempted to speak in platitudes and are tempted to refrain from clear teaching on what is right and wrong. For in the present climate of tolerance, our words have a ring of harshness to our own ears and it is hard for us to bear the cross of being charged with intolerance.
In Acts 17, the apostle Paul noted the existence of an inscription dedicated to the unknown god and he used that as a starting point for his preaching of Christ. I think a good starting point for we who speak today would be to train our preaching guns on the hidden and unrecognized goddess of tolerance. She is a powerful stronghold in the interior of many a soul and when she is pulled down, perhaps many other false gods, goddesses and idols may flee with her.
I appeal to shepherds everywhere: let us valiantly carry our cross, let us engage this subtle and powerful goddess, let us pull her down by truth spoken clearly and when we win the badge of “intolerance” for our good work, let us rejoice and be glad for our reward in heaven is great.