by Bill Nugent
In postmodern America a new form of tolerance, called “positive tolerance,” has emerged. Positive tolerance is the position that maintains that all belief systems are equally valid. All beliefs should not only be tolerated but agreed with, because in this view, all beliefs are equally true. Positive tolerance is another way of saying “moral relativism.” Moral relativism maintains that there is no right and wrong but only preferences. One person simply prefers one form of behavior over another.
The moral relativist can make the following statements: No one is right, no one is wrong. No moral judgments are allowed. Kindness is equal to cruelty. Child rearing is equal to child molestation. All cultures are equal. Who are we to judge an isolated tribal culture that allows, even encourages sex between men and boys?
I read that in one university classroom even the Jewish students would not condemn nazism. They simply said “We don’t agree with what the Nazis did but we have no basis to condemn their actions.” They have no basis to condemn nazism because the concept of absolute truth has been removed from the public educational system.
Positive tolerance is illogical and dangerous because it allows evil to flourish. Young people are led astray into bizarre belief systems that are destructive to human life.
We Christians believe that God is the giver of absolute truth. God determines what is right and wrong. God has given us the Ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
Christians must love all people and tolerate all beliefs that differ from Christianity. Christians must love Muslims and respect (but not agree with) the Muslim faith. Christians must love communists and respect (but not agree with) the ideology of tyrannical communism.
Christians must respect or tolerate the beliefs of others even though we do not affirm (believe as true) those beliefs. The form of toleration that Christians must exercise can be called “negative tolerance.” “Negative” means we regard the other person’s beliefs as untrue. “Tolerance” means we respect the person who believes the falsehood and respect their right to their opinion.
For instance if the man living next door is Muslim you should be friendly towards him but if he tries to persuade you to become a Muslim or he exhorts your daughter to wear a veil you politely say “no thanks.”
The attitude of negative tolerance acknowledges that some belief systems are superior to others. Some belief systems are true and some belief systems are false. Some belief systems are morally wrong. Christians believe that Christianity is superior to nazism. Christianity is true, nazism is false. Christianity is right, nazism is morally wrong.
Though we tolerate other belief systems such as the beliefs of communists and radical Muslims we certainly don’t regard such ideologies as embodying absolute truth. The traditional view of negative tolerance is to give all belief systems a fair hearing but also to point out the evil in belief systems that contradict Bible based morality. A book that gives a proper perspective on both negative and positive tolerance is “The New Tolerance” by Josh McDowell.