Is Christianity Intolerant?

Christianity is sometimes accused of intolerance and criticised for saying that other beliefs are wrong. But this argument is deceptive. However much we claim to believe that everyone is right, in reality no one really does so. For example, we all either believe there is a God/gods or not. We either believe in something beyond the grave (afterlife, reincarnation etc), or not. Many religious subjects are not a matter of taste, they contradict and cannot all be right. We need to know what the truth is.

Saying that someone is correct who believes something contradictory to yourself is not tolerance, it is just ingenuine. Surely this is not respect. It kills all honest discussion. Real respect and tolerance is being free to express different opinions while valuing each other as people. Christianity, of all religions, encourages such respect. Its central teaching is that we are ‘saved by grace’ not by any superiority or good deeds. Unlike a religion built on a concept of merit or karma, Christianity puts us all on the same level – equally valuable as humans made by God, yet equally imperfect, in need of God’s help and forgiveness. There is no room for superiority, only empathy. The Bible says ‘we all fall short of God’s goodness’ but ‘God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight … for God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.’ (Romans 3:23-25).

Equally, Christians cannot force their beliefs on others. Unlike in many religions, nothing external such as good deeds, birth or ancestory, rituals, or state religious law, can make someone a Christian, only a genuine decision to trust in God’s forgiveness through Jesus and want to follow him.

Finally, sharing what you believe to be vital information shows value of others not the opposite. Explaining your beliefs is not the same as removing someone’s freedom. So Christianity is not intolerant. It gives a basis for equality and value.

Share This:

Finding Peace at Christmas

The Bible says God is real, perhaps more real than you imagine, but there is something seriously wrong between us and him. There are a few things it tells us we need to do:

Face up to the problem

Most of us think of ourselves as decent people. But although we may not be murderers or thieves, we’ve all been angry or proud, looked down on others, said or thought bad things about others, tried to hide the truth. The Bible says all these things mean we fall short of God’s standards. It’s not just our actions but our wrong thoughts – the things on the inside – that are sins in God’s eyes and where the problems in our world start. We may not seem bad in our own eyes. It is easy to justify our own behaviour to ourselves. But God is perfect, and he doesn’t share our compromised and desensitised standards.

Stop relying on ourselves

We find it hard to forgive others’ words or actions that have hurt us. Yet we feel God will forgive all our wrongs, help us in this life, and accept us into heaven as if we were friends. But the Bible says that God is good, and he has a sense of justice. He cannot ignore wrong but will judge all of us as he brings about justice and divides the good and bad in heaven and hell. We are guilty of breaking God’s rules and the shocking truth is that the Bible says we are ‘alienated from God’ and his enemies because of our wrong behaviour (Colossians 1:21), facing his condemnation not reward. It is a dangerous place to be. We cannot rely on our own merit.

Yet the Bible says God loves us and doesn’t want to punish us. He gave everything to offer us a way out. He has paid, himself, what his justice demands, so he can forgive us. This is where the Christmas story starts – God entered our world, not to condemn us, but as a baby in humble settings, to sympathise with us and help us – ultimately to die in our place on the cross, paying for all our wrongs. Unbelievably, the Bible says, God himself ‘did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45)! This is how valuable we are to God and how much he loves us, though we have ignored him. 

Make a new start

God wants us to know him, and to start living life following his good instructions in the Bible. We desperately need to do this, and to take up his offer of forgiveness, to make things right between us and him, in this life and the next. Christianity is not about doing good to earn a reward or escape guilt, but simply coming to God, faults and all, to live with his help. As we do this we can start to experience the reality of his existence and help in our lives. Why not do just that this Christmas?

Share This: