In an interesting essay in Time magazine (June 15, 1998), its author related an experience that illustrates the foolishness of today’s unwillingness to take a definite stand when it comes to religious belief:
As I checked in for a test at a local hospital the admissions lady inquired, “What is your religious preference?” I was tempted to repeat what Jonah said, “I am a Hebrew, ma’am. And I fear the Lord, the God of heaven….” But that would have got me sent ot psychiatry rather than x-ray….
In ancient times, they asked, “Who is your God?” A generation ago, they asked your religion. Today your creed is a preference. According to Chesterton, tolerance is the virtue of people who do not believe in anything.
When it is believed that on your religion hangs the fate of your immortal soul, the Inquisition follows easily; when it is believed that religion is a breezy consumer preference, religious tolerance flourishes. After all, we don’t persecute people for their taste in cars. Why for their taste in gods?
Oddly, though…there is one form of religious intolerance that does survive…the disdain bordering on contempt for those for whom religion is not a preference but a conviction….
A conviction that there is a definite way to heaven (and only one) is not tolerated in this day of professed tolerance, because it insists that all roads don’t lead to the same place, that truth does exist, and that there is a distinction between what is right and what is wrong. Instead of such antiquated convictions, ecumenical broadmindedness is the new wave for the new millennium. We are expected to set aside the rational necessity of being certain about our eternal destiny in favor of a mindless tolerance that promises only to avoid religious arguments in this life but offers no sensible assurance for the next.
Tolerance sounds like a virtue, and at times it may be. On the other hand, an attitude allowing a parent to be tolerant of behavior that is harming a child, or the police to be tolerant of criminals who prey upon others, turns virtue into the vice of aiding and abetting evil. Should doctors be tolerant of disease, or public schoolteachers tolerant of any answer on an exam, no matter how wrong? And to be tolerant of a false hope that has deceived multitudes and will lead them to destruction can hardly be the stance of one who truly loves others. This is why Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (2 Corinthians:5:11).
The issue of where one will spend eternity is not a matter of preference, like joining the Elks instead of the Lions. Our opinions and inclinations cannot overturn what God has decreed. Why should the Creator tolerate and admit into His heaven rebels who have broken His laws, trampled on His Word, and rejected the salvation He offers? To imagine that is to credit God with the kind of indulgence of His creatures that we would condemn in a judge in an earthly court of law.