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The Truth About Tolerance
Josh McDowell
Saturday, May 6, 2000

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Q. What's the number-one virtue in America today?

A. Tolerance. But its definition has changed drastically. The traditional definition, now referred to as negative tolerance, is: "to recognize and respect (others' beliefs, practices, etc.) without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing" But today's definition is vastly different. Referred to as positive tolerance, it says "every individual's beliefs, values, life styles, and truth claims are equal."

Our kids are being taught that to say something is right or wrong isn't being tolerant. But God never once in the Bible calls us to be tolerant. Rather, in Micah 6:8, He calls us to act justly and to be loving.

How should we respond to the pressure for tolerance?

Pursue truth. John 8:32 says, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." This means embracing all people—not all beliefs.

Identify with justice. Psalm 106:3 says, "Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right." Justice used to be the number-one virtue in America. God calls us to "act justly." Justice requires a moral basis for discerning right from wrong.

Act in love. Romans 12:9 says, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." Jesus didn't set aside truth to love the woman at the well. He didn't say, "You're OK, I'm OK." He proclaimed the truth to her in love. Tolerance says I must be indifferent, but Christian love says I must act.

What can we do when our kids are taught that their beliefs and values are no different from anyone else's?

Affirm beliefs so that they become convictions. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 says, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. … Teach them to your children." If we don't turn our feelings and those of our kids into convictions, we're going to lose this generation.

—Josh McDowell is president of Josh McDowell Ministry in Dallas, Texas, and a popular speaker.

Credits: Adapted from—New Man (12/99)

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