Thursday, July 07, 2016

Minister Takes on the Tolerance Movement

In an op-ed of 02 July, the Rev. Robert Cunningham asked, “How tolerant is your tolerance?”  He noted that the ideal tolerance is easily managed in one’s own “tribe” but in the presence of someone from another “tribe” its limits are defined in light of “progressive values.”  He noted that an opinion “not in line with the narrow parameters of our increasingly secular society is now disregarded or even scorned.”  

Far from narrow, the parameters of a secular society (if it feels good, do it) are virtually nonexistent.  Most anything goes.  Cunningham sympathized with the “tolerance movement” (whatever that is, probably political correctness or diversity or multiculturalism) since he said it’s a reaction to the history of shameful hatred endemic to conservative fundamentalism.  

Hatred of whom or what?  Cunningham, who described himself as conservative [but not fundamentalist], didn’t say, but one infers via such strong condemnation that he’s intolerant of conservative fundamentalists, though he wondered if they have inspired the tolerance-movement into becoming severely intolerant, i.e., militant against anyone or institution they accuse of being racist, homophobic, gender-insensitive or in any other way offensive to them.  

Regardless of the cause, though fundamentalists could hardly be blamed, the tolerance movement has become so powerful and vicious that homosexuals, for instance, can bankrupt businesses which do not cater to them.  In this, the tolerance movement has had inordinate help from the government, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, as the general public has had tolerance-movement views imposed upon it.

Strangely, Cunningham insisted that an individual has the right to impose (defined as “to establish or apply by authority”) his beliefs on others and that anyone who disagrees with that position subscribes to “an incredibly naïve and self-defeating construct,” never mind that the nation was founded on the principle that such imposition never be allowed.

Cunningham finally gets to the inevitable point – dialogue with humility, civility and love, the way of Jesus. This is people talking out their problems, of which the nation has had a surfeit for decades with virtually nothing accomplished. Political correctness has exacerbated the dialogue approach since it demands that no one be offended, i.e., be made to think or be so thin-skinned that they can’t absorb reality-talk.  

Intolerance, however, has its place and Jesus Christ was if anything inordinately intolerant.  He also didn’t seem to dialogue very much but considered his positions/teachings inviolable.  He made a whip and lashed the unscrupulous vendors who had turned the temple into a bazaar and threw them, animals, birds, tables and money out into the street – no dialogue there.  He did not impose his beliefs on either government or populace, merely preached, prayed, taught, acted.  

Per the middle parable in Matthew 25, he upbraided the slothful servant, who was fired on the spot.  At the Last Supper, he told the disciples to buy swords even if they had to sell clothes to do so and explained a few hours later that the weapons were for defense/protection, not aggression.  Jesus was not a wimp looking to dialogue with folks about truths he knew to be immutable. He looked the head honchos of his own faith in their faces and likened them to whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones and uncleanness...not much dialogue there.

In other words, Jesus made it plain that absolutes exist and are not susceptible to dialogue, which in the so-called mainline denominations have been compromised amidst all the dialogue that has already occurred, with the tolerance-movement winning the day. These denominations are dying.  

Cunningham got it right at the end when he wrote that the way people treat each other is more important than dialogue.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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