Religious tolerance is a growing social movement in America. There are about 2 billion Christians, more than 1 billion Muslims, 700+ million Hindus, 350+ million Buddhists, 150 million Atheists, 14 million Jews, in the world. Many are saying we live in a pluralistic world and must be tolerant toward all religions. But, is Christianity a tolerant religion?
Probably every Christian on the face of the earth has at some time heard the stinging words, “So you are a so-called Christian. Aren’t Christians supposed to be all about love, kindness, and peace?” Well, is this true or not? Was it not Jesus who said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt 10:34)? But did not Jesus also say, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)?
How are Christians supposed to live with this disparity? Are we be to fair, accepting of all, giving all an equal opportunity, or are we to be counter-cultural and exclusive?
Was Jesus tolerant? Did He not declare that it was His way or the highway? Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me,” (John 14:6). Did He not speak harshly of religious leaders who were trying to convince people not to follow Him? “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness,” (Matt. 23:27).
What does this mean for people in America who are told that it is politically incorrect to say that there is “One Savior, One way to heaven, One Truth?”
The news item for this lesson deals with an attempt by a group to have a Satanic Statue erected at the Oklahoma state Capitol where it will have a place of honor beside an already erected monument of the Ten Commandments. This lesson will give us the opportunity to discuss the biblical understanding of religious tolerance.