A word may have different meanings to different people. Some arguments over words grow out of the fact that the disputants do not mean the same thing when they use these words. For example, is tolerance a good word in religious matters? Many people think of intolerance as a most despicable trait, and they think of tolerance as a most wonderful trait.
What about our going to the Bible for a study of tolerance? The Bible is right! Surely we could accept its usage of this word as acceptable. Have you ever tried to find it in the Bible? It is just not in there. This very popular word, as usually used, does not describe a Bible doctrine that is taught by any means. Servants of the Lord are not taught to condone false perversions of the gospel, nor are they taught to offer their gracious smile of approval on all the changes men make in the pattern for the church.
Is there careful instruction found in the sacred writings to the effect that we are to recognize the Hindu, Mohammedan, and Jew as being our spiritual brothers on their various ways to the great white throne and to eternal bliss? Christ died for our sins. He alone is at the right hand of God with all authority in heaven and on earth. He alone has power to make and keep eternal promises. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6.) He is to return to this world to receive His own who are those who fear Jehovah God and keep His commandments. He frankly said, “For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24.) The doctrine that there is one God, one Lord, one Spirit, one hope, one body, one faith, and one baptism is in direct conflict with the world’s idea of tolerance.
Some say that the different denominations with their conflicting doctrines are all right since each is acceptable to some people. They all lead to the same place, they say. If this be true, it follows as night follows the day that man is not required to follow the divine pattern for the church. The church is carefully described in the. New Testament and every detail mentioned in the Book are changed by one denomination or another. Changes are made in the work, worship, and government of the body. There are many conflicting answers given to the question: “What must I do to be saved?”
If division and denominationalism are right, let us ask about how many changes may we make in the church which is so carefully described in the Bible. May we change the baptism and leave the Lord’s Supper out of the regular worship? May we change the government and the worship? May we put the church to work to raise money for the world’s social needs and for all institutions and works that men say are good? Paul wept as he talked and wrote of false teachers who were enemies of Christ. (Phil. 3:17-19; Acts 20:29-31; Rom. 16:17, 18; Gal. 1:6-10; Titus 3:10, 11) Who were these false teachers? Men who taught things that were false were condemned by inspired men. 0 Tim. 6:3-5; 1 John 4:1; Matt. 7:15; Titus 1:11; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; 2 John 9-11.) If teaching conflicting doctrines is sinful, then grievous sins abound in denominationalism. Should we tolerate sins?
The modern seminary trained denominational preacher counts the Bible as a good book rather than THE book. He likely denies the miracles, questions the resurrection and the hope of heaven, and accepts some theory of evolution rather than the Bible claims for creation. Such men count tolerance as their golden rule. They tolerate all ways except the narrow way of truth and holiness that leads to life. This modernistic view pictures man as an animal that evolved from lower forms and it leaves him without a Father to whom he can pray. He is without God and without hope in the world. From this frustrated position man questions as to what is truth and what is right, but to him there is no place to go for an answer.
Men in the last century who sought to improve the pattern by their many societies, instruments of music in worship, and their social gospel had lost faith in the divine pattern. Men who have sought to tie the modified social gospel, and their many societies on to the church treasury today have lost confidence in the all-sufficiency of the church. These movements are back to denominationalism movements; not back to the Bible movements. The ring leaders in this digression warn less and less about false doctrines. They are “broadminded.” Do you realize how far the “Disciples” have gone? Another large segment of the church has turned down the same road. For them there will be less book, chapter, and verse preaching, and more intimate accord with denominations. In short, there will be more of this spineless tolerance.
Governments do well to stay out of religious matters. They can well afford to tolerate the various religious movements, since religion is not their field of action. Truth spreads by teaching and persuasion, and not by force. Truth only asks for liberty to be preached and practiced.
Our world could stand more reasonableness and kindness. Bitterness and rude implications as to insincerity do not help in the battle for right. Christian soldiers do not use carnal weapons, but they have mighty spiritual weapons and they can fight a good fight. They are as harmless as doves and are as lights in a wicked and perverse generation. Would you say these kinds of people who persuade by skillful use of the word are tolerant? Is the matter of patient understanding of the other man’s ideas, or love for his soul tolerance? The sympathetic concern for the neighbor’s spiritual welfare is good, but tolerance does not convey this idea. The way to life is narrow, and this we must understand, but we are all weak before God, and we need much patience and love in dealing with one another.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV:41, pp. 8-9August 26, 1971