Tolerance Despite Difference

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Is Christ the Only Way to God?

Is Christianity wrong because of its claims of exclusivity? Many people argue that it is wrong, but a claim to exclusivity does not automatically mean something is incorrect. In fact, by its very nature, any truth claim is exclusive—even a truth claim that pretends to be inclusive. But having a truth claim does not mean we toss tolerance out the window. Instead, we have tolerance despite difference with love, holding on to our views while respecting those of others.

Three Assumptions for Rejection

Those who reject Christianity because of its claims of exclusivity often make three erroneous assumptions.

1. “Sincerity makes something true”

This claim is clearly not going to cut it. You can be very sincere about something and very sincerely wrong. To use the example of Charlie Brown, it doesn’t matter how sincere he is about his baseball team—he nearly always loses. His sincerity does not change the fact that he simply cannot play baseball well. Likewise, our sincerity does not alter facts; it merely reveals how we feel about something.

2. “It may be true for you, but not for me.”

This common view in our time assumes that truth is ultimately determined by one’s beliefs or lack of beliefs. It confuses subjectivity and objectivity, assuming that all things are subjective. However, truth is not subjective; by its nature, truth does not change.

One key point regarding this common erroneous view is the fact that society does not determine what is true. Every age and culture has its whims and fads; while these change, what is ultimately true does not. Likewise, truth is also not subject to minority or majority opinion.

3. “Exclusiveness makes something wrong.”

The assumption here that anything narrow is automatically wrong and spiteful loses sight of the love we ought to have for one another regardless of our viewpoint. Even though we disagree on something, we can and should still love one another—without having to sacrifice our viewpoint. Tolerance despite difference is a good thing when it comes to our personal relationships, but tolerance does not mean having exactly the same beliefs. We can agree to disagree and do so in a loving spirit.

When it comes down to it, narrowness does not make something automatically wrong. In our practical lives, for example, we actually want reality to be narrow. Consider how confusing driving would be if everyone drove exactly how and where they wanted to! Sidewalks would no longer be safe; both sides of the roads would be chaos; car wrecks would be a frequent occurrence.

The Law of Non-contradiction

If two statements about one particular issue contradict one another, then it follows that they cannot both be true. For example, if someone says “All dogs shed hair,” while another has a poodle and says, “My dog does not shed hair,” then only one statement can be correct.

When it comes to religion, we need to remember that all religions actually make narrow truth claims because every religion claims to be true to the exclusion of all the others. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and a multitude of others all proclaim themselves to have the true knowledge, the true way of salvation (whatever salvation may mean). They are radically different from one another, which makes the view that “all religions are the same” wrong. It is not, therefore, their narrowness that makes different viewpoints wrong. Right and wrong are based on what actually is, not what we simply believe.

Because narrowness does not automatically mean something is wrong, we make the claim that Christianity is true, and that Jesus Christ really is the only way to God. We need to look at what Jesus claimed about Himself and decide: do we believe Him, or do we reject Him?

Interested in learning more about the Bible and the Christian faith? Check out Ken Boa’s apologetics category on the website.

Series Navigation<< Is Christianity Too Narrow?Jesus: Lord of All >>