Tolerance is the operative word these days. We are to tolerate all things, i.e. ideas, theories, philosophies, worldviews, methods, etc. as of equal value and worth to the point of even tolerating what is wrong. Toleration has come to mean that all ideas are equal in value and worth. To suggest otherwise is the height of arrogance and bigotry.
Accompanying this definition of toleration is the equally deadly idea that truth does not exist. And, even if truth exists no one person can claim to speak truth. If truth is one – that is, if truth means one thing then the opposite thing cannot be true at the same time – then such a definition of truth is also a violation of the overriding concern for being tolerant. Toleration argues that either there is no truth or that all truth claims are equally true. Neither claim makes sense, but if tolerance trumps truth then this non-seneschal definition of truth and toleration must stand. The result is moral, philosophical and spiritual chaos and anarchy.
This confusion over a wrong definition of tolerance and the untruth of truth has made its way into the church. Even in the church many people cannot tolerate the truth. In his new book, The Truth War, John MacArthur hits the mark when he writes in the introduction:
“Certain avant-garde evangelicals sometimes act as if the demise of certainty is a dramatic new intellectual development, rather than seeing it for what is actually is: an echo of the old unbelief. It is unbelief cloaked in a religious disguise and seeking legitimacy as if it were merely a humbler kind of faith. But it’s not faith at all. In reality, the contemporary refusal to regard any truth as sure and certain is the worst kind of infidelity. The church’s duty has always been to confront such skepticism and answer it by clearly proclaiming the truth God has revealed in His Word. We have been given a clear message for the
purpose of confronting the world’s disbelief. That is what we are called,
commanded, and commissioned to do (1 Corinthians 1:17-31). Faithfulness to Christ demands it. The honor of God requires it. We cannot sit by and do nothing while worldly, revisionist, and skeptical attitudes about truth are infiltrating the church. We must not embrace such confusion in the name of charity, collegiality, or unity. We have to stand and fight for the truth – and be prepared to die for it – as faithful Christian always have.”
I believe MacArthur has hit the mark. God has called every believer to love and defend the truth, truth that is rooted in God Himself and His Word. Of course, we must speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). But love and truth are not mutually exclusive. Love and truth are companions because the most loving thing is truth; conversely, the most truthful thing is love. Love does not mean I consent to all things as being tolerant. Love may mean that I vigorously and respectfully disagree with you because you are wrong.
So, we speak and defend the truth of God’s Word with clarity, insight, thoughtfulness and humility. In this way we hold together the twin spires of the kingdom of God – love/grace and truth – “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)