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On Tolerance & Ethical Relativism
Another AIIA Quote Forum – compiled by Daryl E. Witmer, AIIA Executive Director
“When I asked my daughter Katie (15 years old): ‘What is one of the names you fear being called at school?’ she replied, ‘Intolerant!'” -Josh McDowell, Tolerating the Intolerable, Josh McDowell Ministry, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International
“Jesus was narrow about the way of salvation. And in loving, compassionate intolerance Jesus said, ‘Enter by the narrow gate…Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life.'” -Billy Graham, Decision magazine, 7/98, p2; Matthew 7:13-14, NKJV
“Personally, I’m opposed to the bombing of abortion clinics, but I don’t want to impose my morality on anybody else.” -Robert L. Houbeck, quoted in R. J. Neuhaus, The Abortion Debate: The Next Twelve Years, The Religion and Society Special Report, 7/85: B5.
“When examining the claims of religious traditions we must be careful not to confuse tolerance and truthfulness. Claiming that it is intolerant to say that ‘all paths do not lead to the same destination’ misses the point. The important issue is the truth or falsity of this assertion.” -Keith E. Johnson, Comparative Religions
“Postmodernists bequeath tolerance only on certain views and groups. Others are experiencing rejection, judgment, and even compulsion at the hands of supposedly inclusive thinkers. Some speech codes and behavior codes appearing on campuses today are even more controlling than those in extreme fundamentalist colleges.” -Dennis McCallum, The Death of Truth ©1996 Bethany House Publishers
“A cross in a jar of urine is considered tolerance. A gay symbol in a jar of urine is intolerance.” -Josh McDowell, Tolerating the Intolerable, Josh McDowell Ministry
“The American Family Association, Donald Wildmon’s media watchdog organization and a longtime advocate of filtering the Internet, is now being filtered by CyberPatrol. The AFA’s Web site, itself devoted to fighting the media’s “Gross Depictions,” has been judged blockable on the grounds of “intolerance”, a category previously reserved for Nazis and Klansmen. The AFA, like other Christian activist organizations, questions the gay rights movement and teaches that homosexual acts are immoral. This is considered an example of discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is a clear violation of the criteria published in the CyberPatrol manual. Impressionable young minds thus need to be protected from the heinous, shocking ideas of moral conservatives.” -excerpted from “CyberPatrol software blocks pro-family sites…”, by Gene Edward Veith, World magazine, 6/1998
The following is excerpted from Love Your God With All Your Mind, copyright 1997 by J.P. Moreland. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. For copies of the book call 800-366-7788.
“One afternoon I was sharing the gospel in a student’s dorm room at the University of Vermont. The student began to espouse ethical relativism: ‘Whatever is true for you is true for you and whatever is true for me is true for me. If something works for you because you believe it, that’s great. But no one should force his or her views on other people since everything is relative.’
“I knew that if I allowed him to get away with ethical relativism, there could be for him no such thing as real, objective sin measured against the objective moral command of God, and thus no need of a Savior. I thanked the student for his time and began to leave his room. On the way out, I picked up his small stereo and started out the door with it. ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ he shouted. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I queried. ‘Are you having problems with your eyes? I am leaving your room with your stereo.’ ‘You can’t do that,’ he gushed. ‘Well,’ I replied, ‘since I lift weights and jog regularly, I think I can in fact do it without any help. But maybe you meant to say, ‘You ought not do that because you are stealing my stereo.’
“Of course, I know from our previous conversation that this is not what you mean. I happen to think it is permissible to steal stereos if it will help a person’s religious devotions, and I myself could use a stereo to listen to Christian music in my morning devotions. Now I would never try to force you to accept my moral beliefs in this regard because, as you said, everything is relative and we shouldn’t force our ideas on others. But surely you aren’t going to force on me your belief that it is wrong to steal your stereo, are you? You know what I think? I think that you espouse relativism in areas of your life where it’s convenient, say in sexual morality, or in areas about which you do not care, but when it comes to someone stealing your stereo or criticizing your own moral hobbyhorses, I suspect that you become a moral absolutist pretty quickly, don’t you?”
“Believe it or not, the student saw the inconsistency of his behavior and, a few weeks later, I was able to lead him to Jesus Christ.”