Error #1: Exclusivism Is Intolerant

Error #1: Exclusivism Is Intolerant

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
—Colossians 4:5

Why do so many people reject exclusivism—the belief that faith in Jesus Christ is the only means by which a person can experience a relationship with God? Many have erroneous ideas about exclusivism.

One error people believe is that exclusivism is intolerant. In our society tolerance is celebrated as the highest of all virtues. Being accused of intolerance is tantamount to being labeled as a drug dealer or child molester. Most people equate tolerance with the rejection of all moral and spiritual absolutes. To be tolerant of homosexuals means that you are unwilling to label homosexuality as a sin. To be tolerant of Hindus means that you accept Hinduism as an equally valid avenue to God as Christianity.

However, if you claim that faith in Jesus Christ is the exclusive means of salvation, you are demonstrating intolerance toward other people, and intolerance leads toward hatred and ultimately to the oppression of others.

There is a vast difference between what I term “pseudo-tolerance” that is in vogue today and the historic understanding of what I call “true tolerance.” True tolerance means to bear or put up with someone or something you don’t necessarily like.

To be tolerant of another person does not require surrendering my convictions that certain behaviors and beliefs are wrong. I can respect a homosexual without accepting homosexuality as a viable lifestyle choice. I can recognize and respect a Muslim and still retain my belief that Christianity offers the only the pathway to God. In fact, inherent in the definition of “tolerance” is a fundamental disagreement with the person you are tolerating.

There is no great virtue in demonstrating respect for someone with whom you agree or who engage in a behavior about which you have no strong conviction. I have no problem tolerating people who are evangelical Christians (a perspective I share) or who play croquet (a sport for which I have no strong feelings). Genuine tolerance requires respect for those behaviors and beliefs about which you disagree.

Tolerance means, “I respect your right to be wrong.”

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Can I Know Christianity Is the Right Religion?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.