The Virtue that Threatens America and the Church
How a popular virtue has been twisted in meaning to become a curse instead of a blessing.
Christians are admonished throughout the Scriptures to be virtuous. Peter writes: “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with stead-fastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Paul cites a similar list of virtues in Galatians 5:22-23 and refers to them as “fruit of the Spirit.”
Needless to say, virtues are supposed to be character traits that are good. The dictionary defines a virtue as “a characteristic of moral excellence or goodness.” But the number one virtue being touted in America today is anything but good. It threatens to destroy both American and the Church.
A Shift in Values
Our number one national virtue used to be justice. That is the virtue that Martin Luther King, Jr. used to convict our consciences and call us to repentance for racial injustice.
But justice is no longer the primary virtue in America. If you want to know what that virtue is, just ask your children, because it is being hammered into their heads on a daily basis in their public school classrooms.
What is it?: tolerance
It sounds so good. It sounds so uplifting, so positive in nature. Your most likely response to your children is to say, “Oh, that’s wonderful! Pay close attention to your teacher.” But before you do that, let me warn you. The concept of tolerance being taught to our children today is anything but wonderful. It is downright dangerous.
The New Tolerance
How can something that seems so good be so terrible? After all, isn’t tolerance a necessary virtue to prevent prejudice, bigotry and hatred? The problem is rooted in the fact that the traditional concept of tolerance — the kind adults in America grew up with — has been redefined into a moral perversion.
The tolerance we grew up with was the kind that encouraged respect for differing viewpoints, religions, and life styles. It was the idea of treating with dignity and respect those who might disagree with us on fundamental concepts of life.
This traditional concept of tolerance is one of the foundation stones of American democracy. It produced the attitude of freedom of diversity — a freedom that has made it possible for Catholics, Protestants and Jews to live together in peace.
But this traditional concept of tolerance has been replaced by the “New Tolerance” that is being taught to our children today. The “New Tolerance” demands not only respect, but also endorsement and praise. Thus, it is no longer sufficient for me to simply tolerate the homosexual lifestyle. To be truly tolerant, I must also endorse it and praise it. And if I refuse to do so, I am a bigot!
A Twisted “Virtue”
The new form of tolerance is really no virtue at all because it is based on a lie. The lie that serves as its foundation is the belief that all values, beliefs, and lifestyles are equally valid.
Thus, democracy is viewed as being no better than dictatorship. Capitalism is considered no better than socialism. And Christianity is seen as being no better than Hinduism.
To summarize it in modern jargon: “Different strokes for different folks, with all judgment put aside.”
An Ironical Virtue
But there is an irony to this “New Tolerance.” The irony is that everything is tolerated except intolerance!
You can witness this irony in action by taking a look at any of the daily television talk shows which have been dubbed most appropriately as “trash TV.” I’m speaking of programs like those hosted by Montel Williams, Jerry Springer, Sally Jesse Raphael, and Geraldo Rivera.
On these programs you will see a parade of moral perverts, like “mothers who sleep with their daughter’s boy friends.” And if anyone in the audience has the audacity to stand up and say, “I think what you are doing is wrong,” the audience will turn on that person in mob fury, denouncing him or her as an intolerant bigot. The result is what Isaiah pointed to as a basic evil in Judean society: “People call evil good and good evil!” (Isaiah 5:20).
The Root of the Problem
This “New Tolerance” is a product of modern society’s rejection of God. You see, if there is no God, then there are no objective standards. Every person’s opinion is as good and valid as any other person’s. And no one has a right to judge or condemn any one else — unless, of course, the person is exhibiting some form of intolerance!
That is the reason modern society hates the Ten Commandments so much. They are constantly ridiculed in the press. Ted Turner, the media mogul, has rewritten them, converting them into humanistic platitudes which he calls “The Ten Suggestions.”
In colleges and universities across America, the worst thing that can happen to a student is to be accused of intolerance. Merely the accusation will often result in the accused person being required to take a course in sensitivity training, and this course must be finished before any other credit course can be taken! And what happens in the course? The person is bom-barded with propaganda in an attempt to brainwash him into believing that all lifestyles have equal merit.
The Moral Consequences
The “New Tolerance” has created a moral vacuum that, in turn, has produced some very strange consequences.
A good example of what I am talking about can be found in the “Naked Guy” incident that occurred on the UCLA campus a couple of years ago. You probably remember seeing reports of it on television.
A student decided that he would start attending classes naked. For days he went from class to class stark naked, and no one was willing to stand up and say, “What you are doing is wrong. It is immoral. Put your clothes back on!” After all, to make such a statement would have been intolerant.
But when the incident got national attention through the media, the administration decided that something had to be done. So, the fellow was finally disciplined on the grounds of the politically correct charge of “sexual harassment.”
Again, when God is removed from the picture, objective standards collapse, and all truth becomes relative.
This was illustrated vividly in a recent article in The Journal of Higher Education. Two college professors reported independently of each other that they had discovered their students were unwilling to make any moral judgments, even regarding the most obscene things. One reported that his students were unwilling to condemn the Holocaust; the other reported that his students could not bring themselves to condemn the Aztec practice of human sacrifice!
The New Academic Atmosphere
Josh McDowell has spent thirty years proclaiming Christ on college and university campuses all across America and around the world. He recently commented on the impact of the “New Tolerance” by observing that students now respond to his message in a completely different way.
In the past when he would present the claim that Jesus is the only hope for the world, the response from students was, “Prove it!” Today the response is, “You have no right to say that! You’re a bigot!”
Josh summed up the new campus atmosphere by stating: “An imbecile’s claim that Ronald MacDonald is the only hope for Mankind becomes equally valid with my claim that there is no hope apart from Jesus. I have no right to judge or condemn his claim, nor do I have the right to point out that he is an idiot.”
I used to teach comparative government and comparative political philosophy at the university level. In both courses, the purpose was to evaluate the competing truth claims. We would consider questions like these: Is democracy more valid than oligarchy? Is Communism more valid than Capitalism? Is Existentialism more valid than Rationalism?
Today such an approach would be considered hardcore bigotry! The purpose of comparative studies today is “to understand, appreciate and accept competing systems.”
Thus, a comparative religion course would no longer evaluate the truth claims of competing religions. Instead, it would strive to show you that Hinduism is as valid a religion as Christianity or any other religion in the world.
The Plague of Multiculturalism
This explains the danger of the current fad of multiculturalism — the hottest buzz word in American education.
Again, it sounds so good. But there are two serious problems with it. First, it is a thinly veiled attempt to dispense with the teaching of Western Civilization. The advocates of the “New Tolerance” loathe the study of Western Civilization because it emphasizes the civilizing influence of Christianity, a religion which they despise because it is considered “intolerant.”
The second problem with multiculturalism is that it teaches that one culture is just as good as another, and that is a lie! The Aztec culture that emphasized human sacrifices was not as good as a Christian culture that emphasizes the sanctity of life. And the Indian culture that is based upon gross idolatry in the form of worshiping every aspect of creation is not as good as a Christian culture that focuses on the worship of the one true God.
Consider for a moment the different results of the culture of India which is based on Hinduism and the culture of America that has been based on Judeo-Christian principles. In India, hundreds of millions of people are starving to death as a result of their belief that all living animals are reincarnated human beings. Because of this belief, they will not kill the animals for food. People starve while animals of all kinds wander the streets. By contrast, the Judeo-Christian principles America was founded upon have produced the most abundant society the world has ever known.
These differences in India and America are obvious, but no judgments can be drawn according to the rules of the “New Tolerance.” That’s because the “New Tolerance” requires the abandonment of convictions. It demands indifference to evil. That’s the reason that President Reagan was so roundly condemned by the press when he had the audacity to characterize the Soviet Union as “the Evil Empire.”
Implications for Christianity
Christianity has been heavily impacted by the “New Tolerance.” Let’s consider some of the ways:
1) Hatred — For one thing, the “New Tolerance” is turning society against Evangelical Christianity. In fact, I would put it even stronger than that. I would say it is fueling outright hatred and persecution of Evangelicals.
The reason, of course, is simple. Evangelicals stand on the Word of God as their authority for all things, and because they do, they feel compelled to speak with moral indignation against the sins of society.
And society responds by shouting, “Bigots!” Evangelicals are written off and publicly denounced as “Bible-thumpers,” “red-neck zealots,” and “self-righteous prudes.”
Consider, for example, the response of the press and the general public to the decision by Southern Baptists to boycott the Disney Corporation. The Baptists were castigated in the harshest possible language for adopting the following resolutions:
- That there should be a right to display the Ten Commandments in all government offices, court houses, and schools.
- That Bible publishers should refrain from accommodating their translations to contemporary cultural pressures.
- That Christians should boycott the Walt Disney company for its flagrant promotion of homosexuality, adultery, infidelity, and violence.
- That the United States government should take sanctions against foreign governments that promote religious persecution.
What is so terrible about these resolutions? Why did they result in a firestorm of criticism? The answer is simple. The resolutions make moral judgments.
But do you see a double standard here? Think of it — It is okay to bash Christians, but it is morally wrong to criticize homosexuals. It is okay to put a crucifix in a jar of urine and call it art, but it would be totally unacceptable to put a rainbow pin in the same jar (because it symbolizes the New Age Movement). And it is okay to boycott an American corporation that pollutes the atmosphere or exploits foreign workers, but it is totally unacceptable to boycott a corporation that promotes gross immorality.
2) Dilution — The second way the “New Tolerance” has impacted Christianity is that it has been adopted by many mainline Christian denominations, and this has resulted in diluting their stand against the sins of society.
John 3:16 has been replaced as the central verse in these churches with Matthew 7:1 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
The result is, as Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, has often pointed out, there are tens of thousands of silent pulpits in America today because pastors are unwilling to denounce gambling, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, pornography, or any other societal evil.
Someone needs to point out to these preachers that Matthew 7:1 applies to motives — not to words and actions. God alone knows motives, but we can certainly judge words and actions against the standards of God’s Word. And, in fact, we are required to do so. The Bible tells Christians to test all things, ourselves included (2 Corinthians 13:5 and 1 John 4: 1). And Jesus Himself commanded us “to judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
3) Apostasy — There is a third way the “New Tolerance” has impacted Christianity. Again, this has happened primarily among the mainline, liberal denominations.
What I’m referring to is the growing attitude of acceptance of other religions as legitimate avenues to God and salvation. This attitude dominates both the National and World Councils of Churches.
The attitude is usually expressed in the following manner: “There are many roads to God because He has revealed Himself in many different ways.” Because of this apostasy, many Christian leaders are now taking the position that it is wrong to send out missionaries because they violate the cultural sensitivities of foreign peoples and because they communicate the idea that there is something superior about the Christian message.
All of which makes a liar of Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me” (John 14:6). It also makes a liar of the Apostle Peter who proclaimed in Acts 4:12 that “there is salvation in no one else [but Jesus]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
The religious impact of the “New Tolerance” has profound prophetic implications. I see it as paving the way for the one world religion of the Antichrist.
In fact, steps have been taken to establish a one world religion based on the “New Tolerance.” Over 200 delegates from religious groups all over the world gathered at Stanford University to begin drafting a charter for an international interfaith institution to be called The Organization of United Religions.
The meeting was convened and presided over by Reverend William Swing, the Episcopal Bishop of San Francisco. Since 1993 he has been traveling worldwide to set up a network of religious leaders interested in a one world religious organization. The Bishop told the San Francisco Chronicle: “I’ve spent a lot of time praying with Brahmins, meditating with Hindus, and chanting with Buddhists. I feel I’ve been enormously enriched inwardly by exposure to these folks. I’ve gone back and read our own scriptures, and it’s amazing how they begin to read differently when you’re exposed to more truth from more people in other parts of the world.” This statement is the epitome of the “New Tolerance.” (Incidentally, I would like to know what “new truth” he found outside the Bible!)
The Melbourne Follow-up
A month later many of the same people gathered in Melbourne, Australia for a conference on religion and cultural diversity. The Archbishop of Canterbury (the leader of the Church of England) was present, and the Pope sent one of his highest ranking cardinals.
At the opening banquet, the lights were dimmed and people were told to focus on the candle on their table while the following prayer was offered:
“Let us focus on the candle, the small quivering fire, the light in the darkness, the call to evening prayer, the call to thanksgiving… for our togetherness, for our unity as sons and daughters of the earth in this vast and ancient land, this sacred soil of the Dreamtime.
In the presence of the Ineffable Other, the Holy Being of Infinity, the Numinous Beyond, the One and the Ultimate, the Alpha and the Omega, the Unknown and the Unknowable, Lord of the Cosmos, Center of Creation… we pray to you…”
Can you imagine any Christian leader praying such clap-trap? Since when, from a Christian viewpoint, has our Creator God become “unknown and unknowable”? Only a professing Christian captivated and deceived by the “New Tolerance” could pray such a blasphemous prayer.
Understandably, the conference concluded that the one cardinal sin is absolutism. Belief that one’s religion contains absolute truth was decried as pride.
And the most popular workshop was on “Religious Fundamentalism.” The featured speaker was an ordained Christian minister who, until recently, was the fulltime chaplain at the University of Melbourne. He denounced Christians who believe in the Bible and embrace creationism as “mean-spirited.” He also called them “authoritarian and dictatorial,” “violent,” “aggressive,” “pathological,” and “dangerous.” He characterized them as people who are incapable of independent thinking and who “brandish their floppy Bibles like weapons.”
Talk about paving the way for the Antichrist! I can hear him speaking now: “It makes no difference what you call your god. He can be Yahweh or Baal or Allah or Krishna or Mother Earth or Self. Just give me your allegiance as your god’s Messiah, and I will guarantee your freedom to worship as you please.”
The Time is Short
Jesus is coming soon! He is coming to rule with “a rod of iron” (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:27). There will be no tolerance of evil, and the result will be that the world will be flooded with peace, righteousness, and justice as the waters cover the seas.
As we await His return, we are not to give in to the “New Tolerance.” We are to be loving, but not indifferent. We are called to be the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). That means we are to stand up and speak out in behalf of righteousness.
- “Hate evil, you who love the Lord.” — Psalm 97:10
- God asks: “Who will stand up for Me against evil doers? Who will take his stand for Me against those who do wickedness?” — Psalm 94:16
- “Abhor evil. Cling to what is good.” — Romans 12:9
- “Hate evil. Love good. And establish justice.” — Amos 5:15
As these Scriptures clearly teach, we must boldly tell the world that there is a God who hates sin and who hates it so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins so that we might be reconciled to our Creator.