Dinner Topics for Wednesday
Tolerance definition vs. Freedom of Religion
We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments. We know that the existence of God and the existence of absolute truth are fundamental to life on this earth, whether they are believed in or not. We also know that evil exists and that some things are simply, seriously, and everlastingly wrong. ~Dallin H. Oaks
Tolerance and freedom: What’s the Difference?
Stacy Long, AFA Journal
President Barack Obama began this year in an interesting quandary: being found too anti-Christian in America and, on the other side of the world, too Christian.
It seems everyone in America knows about remarks the president made at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast where he equated ISIS violence with Christendom’s Crusades.
Just the week before, President Obama had spoken in India, making strong statements about that nation’s need for religious freedom. Many Indians protested that the president was shoving Christianity on them and critiquing their often extreme expression of Hinduism.
American media quietly tucked away a few brief stories on the speech in India under the heading of religious tolerance. However, the president never said the words “religious tolerance” during the speech in India. Apparently, there is a definite distinction between religious freedom and religious tolerance, and mainstream America prefers the latter.
Should Christians be concerned if religious tolerance becomes a substitute for religious freedom, or if a prayer breakfast is devoted to leveling differences between religions?
Apologist Nancy Pearcey (pearceyreport.com) answered that question by pointing out that religious tolerance is just as dangerous, and perhaps more insidious, than outright opposition to faith.
“Ironic as it may sound, Christians have more in common with honest atheists than with people who want to sugarcoat the conflict,” she told AFA Journal. “Those who argue against Christianity give it greater respect than those who reduce it to something like a preference for chocolate over vanilla.”
Those who attack Christianity implicitly acknowledge that Christianity has a feasible claim to truth that must be debated.
“Arguments against Christianity are attempts to prove it is internally inconsistent,” Pearcey explained. “This is a standard test of any worldview. If you can show it harbors logical inconsistency, then it cannot be true. But that does treat Christianity as a genuine set of truth claims.”
Truthless and toothless
The brand of religious tolerance typified in the president’s prayer breakfast speech is essentially religious pluralism, which says exclusive truth claims of every religion are equally valid. It requires, as Obama stated, “not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right … that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” With pluralism, religion ceases to be a question of truth and falsehood, and becomes one of interests, personalities, societal values, needs, or personal opinions.
“Denying any conflict denies that Christianity makes any real truth claims, portraying it as just a matter of personal experience that helps people cope with life or find guidance,” Pearcey said. “This is a radically subjective view of religion that reduces it to something strictly individual.”
This attitude undermines religious influence, blocking it from public circles, moral judgments, and even the defense of one faith over others.
“In proposing tolerance, what kind of deal is offered?” Pearcey asked. “It allows religion to exist as long as it is defined in a way no one has ever defined it. Tolerance is a peace treaty where all the important concessions have to be made by religion.”
Defend the Faith
▶ Treat all attempts to discover truth with respect.
▶ Press logical conclusions of viewpoints.
▶ Be willing to consider tough questions.
▶ Address distinctions between Christianity and other religions.
▶ Point out Christianity’s unique contributions to the social, moral, and legal order.
▶ Explain how the natural world and human nature point to God (Romans 1:19-21).
▶ Alex McFarland
Top 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity and How to Answer Them
▶ Nancy Pearcey
Finding Truth and Total Truth pearceyreport.com