Most of the religious crisis that we witness these days is on the basis of the limitation, and in fact the total inexistence, of religious toleration between various religions.
What is religious toleration? Religious toleration is the deliberate allowance or permission of other religions that have beliefs different from one’s. The mere statement on the part of a religion that its own beliefs and practices are correct and any contrary beliefs incorrect does not in itself constitute intolerance; therefore this is what religious tolerance doesn’t mean: belief that other religions are as correct as yours. (Source: Wikipedia)
As Christians, we have only one true God, and then one Savior and mediator; both of them, I believe, have natures of religious toleration. Jesus even thought it. This fact, I’ll try to establish in the rest of this article but before then I would like to sound it in a layman’s term that religious toleration doesn’t mean you have believed that all the other religions are as correct/right as yours. You can tolerate other religions while you hold to your true belief.
God’s Freewill and Toleration
We Christians have grown to understand that our God is a merciful, compassionate God of love. And one of the things he had done for us, out of his love for us, is give us the opportunity of freewill—to not impose his love into us and to not force belief in him on us.
God is not interested in us being a doll that goes just in any direction his owner wishes it to go without its conscience; and this is the basis of his free will to all man. This is the basis of his toleration for people who do not believe in Him or in His plans and intents and words and truth—this is the reason why I believe in God’s toleration of other religions, other beliefs, every lies that people might cook up about Him.
But it is important to remind ourselves again that God’s toleration of people’s unbelief in Him doesn’t mean He accepts all belief into His kingdom at the end.
Noah’s ark is the best case study for this. Noah believed that the flood was going to “purify” the face of the earth of all the wickedness at that time, he believed in God. But there are also other people who did not believe in this; they say it is neither scientifically nor morally possible. They say they are wiser than Noah; he is just a disillusioned man. In short, they said a lot of critical things about him and his belief. Yet God does tolerate them, He positioned their realization of the truth, not to the judgment of man, but to the D-day of eternal justification and condemnation.
Noah, who believed the truth, shared his belief with the people, they refused, he tolerated their beliefs, and God tolerated it also. But at the end when Noah was justified and was granted a new life, the unbelievers—those with a different belief—were deprived of life altogether: Both their old life and their new life was demanded of them.
Christ’s teaching on Toleration
What Christ thought about tolerance is not direct but all the way obvious. It is obvious based on the fact that the passage in which it was recorded in the Bible is a well know passage, Matthew 10:14. And Luke 9:5
Reading that passage all on itself might not “do justice to this case”, so let us start our examination right from verse 5,6,7: “Do not go among the gentile, Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message” Then, verse 14, “if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
This is, to me, a teaching of toleration. If they don’t welcome you, listen to you, believe your words; leave them alone and keep your faith with you. Tolerate their un-acceptance, their unbelief, just like Noah did during his time. Do not force them, do not fight with them, you cannot fight for God; instead defend your own faith, you have been allowed to do that—fight so that you won’t lose your own faith to theirs but do not fight to convert them.
This, my dear readers, is a great teaching of toleration. Of peace, so that the government would know that Christ, God the son, has not come to cause unnecessary ruckus within the society and for the government but has came bringing the message that should gladden the heart of the multitude—the opposite of this is happening today, how incongruous!
Toleration, not Dereliction of Truth
When you know the duty you ought to do and yet you refuse to do it because you’ve seen a reason, like gossiping, entertainment et al; this is called dereliction of the duty. So also is with the toleration: if you, because you’ve seen a reason to be tolerant of other beliefs and religions, you derelict the truth you have already known—your belief in God, in Christ—then you are in for a big loss. For in the end, you’ll be treated just like the unbelievers will be treated.
What’s with the unbelievers? “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said “[for those who refuse to believe,] it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for them.”
Therefore, we should be like Daniel and his friends; they do not stop the people from worshiping their false gods (this is toleration, not compromise), yet they refuse to join in the act because they are sure that theirs is the true belief—they believe that since they’ve known the truth, the truth will definitely set them free.