Custom CSS of Section contains Conditional Preview for See Life Campaign Elements

True Tolerance: Faithfully Serving the God of Truth

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Christians are told their beliefs are matters of faith and, therefore, tolerance must override faith.

An ancient maxim reads, “About matters of taste, there is no disputing,” while another one advises, “About matters of truth, we should engage in dispute.”

In the Latin the sayings are, respectively: “De gustibus non disputatum” and “De veritate disputandum est.”

These two sayings nicely capture the essence of the solution to the contemporary problem of tolerance and truth.

On the one hand, we hear much in public discourse about the need for tolerance, usually presented as the non-judgmental acceptance of all perspectives. On the other hand, those who stand for truth are often branded as narrow-minded, intolerant and judgmental. Unfortunately, this is often the case when it comes to Christianity. All too often Christian beliefs are said to be matters of faith, not matters of truth. As a result, Christians are told tolerance must override faith. After all, with so many religious and non-religious perspectives in the world, isn’t tolerance to be desired over dispute? Are Christians really so prideful as to think they have the corner on truth in certain areas?

What is Truth?

In reality, the matter of tolerance and truth is not as simple as it appears. To clarify matters it will be helpful to define two terms: truth and tolerance.

In the Gospel of John, Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” but did not stay for an answer (John 18:38). Dictionary definitions of truth usually identify it as a “quality or state of being true … that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.” In slightly more philosophical terms we could say that truth is that which corresponds with reality. Consequently, what is real is true and what is true is real. A statement is true, then, if it coincides with the way things are.

But let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. At a basic level we all have a pretty good idea of truth. We know, for instance, that when someone is caught in a lie they did not tell the truth (what they said did not correspond to reality). When it comes to facts, we know that it is not true that the capital of the United States is Los Angeles, rather it is Washington, D.C.

When it comes to moral matters, truth also applies. For instance, either abortion is wrong or it is not. Either a fetus is actually a human being or it is not. Truth in religion also applies. Either Jesus is Lord or he is not. Either God exists or He does not. In these and other questions, whatever corresponds to reality is the truth.

Truth and the Bible

But how does truth apply to the Bible and, specifically, to Christianity? Below are eight relevant points, offered by Christian philosopher Douglas Groothuis:

  1. Truth is revealed by God. It is not constructed or invented by individuals or communities …
  2. Objective truth exists and is knowable … Objective truth is truth that is not dependent on any creature’s subjective feelings, desires or beliefs.
  3. Christian truth is absolute in nature.
  4. Truth is universal.
  5. The truth of God is eternally engaging and momentous, not trendy or superficial.
  6. Truth is exclusive, specific and antithetical … For every theological yes there are a million no’s. What is true excludes all that opposes it.
  7. Truth, Christianly understood, is systematic and unified.
  8. Christian truth is an end, not a means to any other end.

Groothuis concludes his chapter on “The Biblical View of Truth” by writing, “Without a thorough and deeply rooted understanding of the biblical view of truth … the Christian response to postmodernism [a worldview that often denies or distorts the reality of truth] will be muted by the surrounding culture or will make illicit compromises with the truth-impoverished spirit of the age.”

Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay (InterVarsity Press, 2000), pp. 65-82.

What is Tolerance?

But what about tolerance? What’s wrong with the non-judgmental acceptance of all perspectives? What’s wrong depends on what one is being tolerant about. Remember the opening sayings about taste and truth? “About matters of taste, there is no disputing” and “About matters of truth, we should engage in dispute.”

Being tolerant is more than acceptable under certain circumstances, especially when it comes to taste. Authors Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl demonstrate this well in their book Relativism (Baker Books, 1998) where they discuss liking a certain flavor of ice cream, adding, “Tastes are personal. They’re private. They’re individual. If you didn’t like butter pecan and favored chocolate instead, it would be strange to say that you were wrong. You should not be faulted, it seems, for having different subjective tastes about desserts than someone else. What if my claim was not about flavors, though, but about numbers? If I say the sum of two plus two is four, I’m making a different sort of claim than stating my taste in ice cream.”

Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: feet firmly planted in mid-air (Baker Book, 1998), p. 27.

Do you see the difference between being tolerant of tastes and of truth? Being tolerant of someone’s personal taste for ice cream is fine, but what about in the area of mathematics? Two plus two equals four, but doesn’t it seem narrow-minded to say so? After all, why should there be only one narrow answer to that problem? Does this mean all answers to the problem that are not four are wrong? Well, that seems so judgmental! The point is, there are some instances where truth—what corresponds to reality—is exclusive simply because it is true.

Tolerance is one thing, but truth is another. Now if by tolerance one means being respectful of the beliefs of others, then Christianity is in full agreement, as Christians are called to defend their beliefs “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). But to confuse tolerance with truth is not helpful.

Putting Tolerance to the Test

Can tolerance pass a worldview test? Since tolerance is often applied to morality, let’s briefly explore moral relativism in relation to this question. Moral relativists claim that whatever one happens to believe is true or right for them. Morality becomes completely subjective. What’s wrong with this approach? If moral relativism is accepted then nothing can be considered wrong, but we know some things are inherently wrong, which is why we have a legal system and criminals serving time. There are many other problems with moral relativism, but this one is enough to destroy it as a viable system.

For more insights on refuting moral relativism see Beckwith and Koukl, Relativism, and Kenneth R. Samples, Without a Doubt (Baker Books, 2004), chapter 18.

We should not tolerate behavior such as murder, child abuse, rape, or robbery, for instance. In short, some things are simply intolerable.

The God of Truth

Psalm 31:5 reads, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth” (NIV). Truth is real and it matters. Moral truth is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15), but we must also use our heads (Matthew 22:37) if we are to faithfully serve “the God of truth.”

Robert Velarde is author of The Heart of Narnia (NavPress), Conversations with C.S. Lewis (InterVarsity Press) and Inside The Screwtape Letters (Baker Books). He studied philosophy of religion at Denver Seminary and is pursuing graduate studies in philosophy at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Emerson-Eggerich4-840w

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 6: Families Helping Families!

So, after all you’ve seen through the SeeLife ‘21 Episodic journey; what can you do now? We’ll share how you can partner with some amazing organizations that are making significant impacts in the pro-life movement! You want to Celebrate Life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 2: Heroes Providing Hope

Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!