Responding to Popular Criticisms of Christianity – Part IV

  • “Christians are so intolerant.” This is another popular criticism that many believers have heard. It is most often raised against us when we dare to stand for the biblical worldview in our culture today.
  • When someone brings this charge against you, it is important to understand what genuine tolerance and intolerance is, while also recognizing how today’s culture has redefined these words.
  • Historically, tolerance has always implied the presence of disagreement, but being tolerant meant that the disagreement wouldn’t lead to insults, violence, or other forms of hostility. Those actions would have been deemed intolerant.
  • In today’s culture, however, tolerance has been redefined. Today, to be considered a tolerant person, disagreement is not an option, especially in regards to another person’s spiritual beliefs, lifestyle, or sexuality. These areas must be accepted unconditionally and uncritically. Otherwise, you will be given the label of “intolerant”.
  • Notice, today labels like “tolerant” and “intolerant” are no longer simply about one’s actions, but now they’re used in reference to personal beliefs and convictions.
  • As Christians we must help our culture understand and recover the traditional understanding of tolerance and intolerance. We must contend for the truth that it is wholly consistent to speak out against spiritual error and moral violations of God’s will, while at the same time caring for and living respectfully amongst the people with whom we disagree. This is genuine tolerance, not intolerance.
  • When someone uses the label of “intolerant” against you, remember, all they are doing is calling you names. They are not making an actual argument against your position. Simply respond, “I’m sorry you don’t respect my viewpoint on this issue, but could you please explain to me why you think I’m wrong rather than calling me names.”
  • Furthermore, when someone calls you “intolerant” for doing nothing more than professing your Christian convictions, they are guilty of violating their own false notion of tolerance. Ask them, “Do you consider yourself to be an open-minded and tolerant person?” When they say, “Yes”, simply point out the inconsistency of their critique against you, “As an open-minded and tolerant person, I’m surprised that you would verbally attack me for simply holding to my personal beliefs. Isn’t that somewhat intolerant of you?”

For more helpful responses to today’s popular criticisms of Christianity, please see the book, Answers For A Confused Church, available in our online store.