What is Biblical tolerance? It seems to me that tolerance has been pushed so much in our churches today, that we have an improper view of what Biblical tolerance really is. Please expound.
The word “tolerance” is defined as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the act of allowing something; the allowable deviation from a standard; the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension” (Merriam Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
Maintaining a close tolerance is important to every area of our lives — physical, and spiritual.
Your car has a multitude of bearings in it: bearings for the crankshaft; the camshaft; the wheels; the transmission; etc. The designer of the bearing will set certain tolerances for that part — usually within a specified thousandth of an inch. If tolerances were not set, then the bearing may be manufactured too big, and the part would rattle inside of the bearing, and the bearing or part would wear out soon. If the bearing was a little too tight, then when the part heated up under normal usage, it would not even be able to turn inside of the bearing, and the motor or wheel would come to a quick halt.
Your house has many things in it that are built according to certain tolerances. Your doors swing on hinges that are manufactured to certain tolerances. If they were too tight, then you could not even open your door. If they were too loose, then your door would rattle in the wind, and/or rub on the door jamb as it was able to move around in the opening.
Your door also has to be built to certain tolerances as to the size of it. If your door was too big, then it would not fit inside of the opening. If it was too small, then it would not even fill up the hole, and people could see right into your house around the door.
Our lives are filled with things that must meet certain tolerances. If it was not that way, then nothing would work or be dependable. You probably know how frustrating it sometimes is to buy shoes or clothes. There does not seem to be very close tolerances in those areas of manufacturing. One brand of shoes may fit you fine in a size 9, while you have to go to a size 10 in another brand. Ordering dresses through the catalog ends up with the same problem many times. IN THE END, NOT HAVING CLOSE TOLERANCES IS VERY COSTLY.
Even so it is in the Christian life, and in the running of a church. If there are not close tolerances, then it is very similar to the days of the judges. Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel: EVERY MAN DID THAT WHICH WAS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES.” And that is very costly in the end, because Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
We are living in a day of very loose tolerances, spiritually speaking. We are seeing the preparations for the ONE WORLD CHURCH. Notice how so many religious groups are calling for unity. The question is “What KIND of unity?” Unity of doctrine? No. In fact, groups like Promise Keepers, Charismatics, the multitude of Family Organizations on the radio, well-known evangelists, etc., ARE ALL CALLING FOR RELIGIOUS PEOPLE TO LAY ASIDE THEIR DOCTRINAL DIFFERENCES AND WORK TOGETHER. Does the Bible teach that Christians are to have such tolerance in their lives? The Bible will clearly speak for itself.
The first mention of the word “doctrine” in the New Testament is in Matthew 7:28,29, which says, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, THE PEOPLE WERE ASTONISHED AT HIS DOCTRINE: FOR HE TAUGHT THEM AS ONE HAVING AUTHORITY, and not as the scribes.”
What was different about Jesus’ teaching, than the other religious leaders of His day? His doctrine had authority, but the scribes’ doctrine did not. Why? One reason — Jesus quoted the Bible and stuck to its teaching, but the scribes quoted other men’s opinions.
Consider the following passage. Matthew 19:3-6 says, “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, HAVE YE NOT READ, THAT HE WHICH MADE THEM AT THE BEGINNING made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Jesus pointed them to the Scriptures to answer the question about divorce and remarriage. Whereas the scribes and Pharisees were used to taking the position of one group or the other of men. That is why their doctrine had no impact upon the people. When Jesus came along answering questions clearly according to the Scriptures, it was refreshing to people.
We should NOT HAVE TOLERANCE for placing anything on the same level as the Word of God. Mark 7:6-13 warns us, “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of YOU HYPOCRITES, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN. For LAYING ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, YE HOLD THE TRADITION OF MEN, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well YE REJECT THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, THAT YE MAY KEEP YOUR OWN TRADITION. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; MAKING THE WORD OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT THROUGH YOUR TRADITION, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
Should we tolerate Catholic doctrine in the church today? They place their traditions on the same level of authority as the Scriptures. Should we tolerate that and have sympathy for that practice? Not according to the Bible. You will notice in that passage above how their error began: “TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.” Jesus did not tolerate such practices — He called them “hypocrites.” And there is good reason, because of the downward progression. “For LAYING ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, YE HOLD THE TRADITION OF MEN.”
Whenever you show tolerance for false doctrine and practice, then it gives man a choice — to accept the Bible, or to choose something else over the Bible. And it does not take man long to set aside the Word of God in favor of something else.
After that happens for a while, man will soon go down to the next level: “Full well YE REJECT THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, THAT YE MAY KEEP YOUR OWN TRADITION.” So even though they claim to believe the Bible and use it, IT IS NOT THE AUTHORITY in their lives. That is right where the Catholic Church and the Charismatics are today. They both claim that the Bible is to be followed, but neither look to it as their real authority. The Catholics look to “the church” (its priest, pope, traditions, Mary, saints, etc.) as their real authority, and the Charismatics look to signs, wonders, miracles, tongues, etc., as their real authority.
So while both groups claim to follow the Bible, the truth is found at the end of the above passage: “MAKING THE WORD OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT THROUGH YOUR TRADITION, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
So with the very first usage of the word “doctrine” in the New Testament, we find that Jesus did not give the religious crowd “tolerance” when it came to their doctrines. Why? Because their doctrines were THE DOCTRINES OF MEN. Jesus always referred them to the DOCTRINES OF GOD — THE BIBLE.
We are seeing something much different today in the religious realm. There is the call for unity, and PEOPLE ARE BEING TOLD TO SET ASIDE THEIR DOCTRINAL DIFFERENCES for the sake of unity. That is not the Biblical way to have unity, and their way will not work in the end.
The Bible does talk about unity. How does it say that we are to achieve it? Ephesians 4:11-15 tells us, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: TILL WE ALL COME IN THE UNITY OF THE FAITH, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: THAT WE HENCEFORTH BE NO MORE CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO, AND CARRIED ABOUT WITH EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
Those verses tell us that the Lord gives pastors and teachers to teach us Bible doctrine “TILL WE ALL COME IN THE UNITY OF THE FAITH, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” God wants pastors to get up and teach the doctrines of the Bible. Today, we are seeing pastors get up and do the opposite. They are teaching their people to “break down denominational barriers” and just accept everyone.
Just recently, a church out west made a formal apology to the Mormon Church. After that service, it was reported that half of the members of that church did not come back there to church. The pastor excused it away that people just could not get over their prejudice and hatred for certain groups. Some of the people of that church know much more than their pastor knows! We are to love Mormon people, and desire to see them saved, just like anyone else. But we are to boldly stand against the Mormon false doctrine. The pastor’s job is to teach his people, “THAT WE HENCEFORTH BE NO MORE CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO, AND CARRIED ABOUT WITH EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
The Mormons are right on the band wagon for the one world church. They are trying their hardest to be considered a “Christian” church today. But they come with a false Christ. Remember the pastor’s job? “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, AND OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD.” It is the pastor’s job to preach Christ — to give the people knowledge of the true Christ. I Corinthians 1:23,24 says, “But WE PREACH CHRIST crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
The Bible clearly warns us of those who will come teaching false Christs. Galatians 1:6-9 says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but THERE BE SOME that trouble you, and WOULD PERVERT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” II John 7 says, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, WHO CONFESS NOT THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH. THIS IS A DECEIVER AND AN ANTICHRIST.”
The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not come bringing the Jesus of the Bible. Should we show tolerance to their false doctrine? The Bible clearly says, “No.” The “Mormon Jesus” is Lucifer’s spirit brother. That would make Jesus an angel, not God, because that is what Lucifer is, a fallen cherub (Ezek. 28:14). The Bible is clear that JESUS IS NOT AN ANGEL — BUT GOD. Hebrews 1:1-8 says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, WHO MAKETH HIS ANGELS SPIRITS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE. BUT UNTO THE SON HE SAITH, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOR EVER AND EVER: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” The angels are called “ministers,” but Jesus is called “God.”
Remember the definition of “tolerance?” The word “tolerance” is defined as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the act of allowing something; the allowable deviation from a standard; the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension” (Merriam Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
We are living in a day of TOO MUCH TOLERANCE in regard to Bible doctrine. II Timothy 4:1-4 says, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season; REPROVE, REBUKE, EXHORT WITH ALL LONGSUFFERING AND DOCTRINE. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
The Bible is clear that the time will come when there is TOO MUCH TOLERANCE IN REGARD TO BIBLE DOCTRINE, AND WE SEEM TO BE THERE TODAY. We are not to drop our Bible doctrine and cast it aside. We are to stand firm upon Bible doctrine, whether it appears to be “in season” or “out of season” to do so. Jude 3,4 says, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”