One of the main things dragging Christianity down in the 21st Century, making it so weak in the fight against secularism, is a mistaken belief that “tolerance” is a shining Christian virtue. It is not and it never has been. The reason should be obvious; if we uphold “tolerance” as a major virtue soon all criticism and discernment is silenced in it’s name. All is to be tolerated….including that which is evil. An obvious affront to God for it leads to this fanciful notion that we can somehow preach mercy without justice or truth. Try telling that to victims of abuse.
The reality is that the Christian must learn how to hate. How to seriously detest the sins of this world, and their own sins too, that so mar and damage other people. They should abhor with passionate conviction false creeds too, those that lead to estrangement from God or worst to the enslavement of souls. And special hatred must be found for those false ideologies spreading violence and fear across the face of the earth. We must hate because it is linked to our love. We have to love the things of God and hate the things of the devil. But how does this work in reality?
Under such an understanding I would be justified hating the beliefs of an Isis terrorist, loathing the vile acts of murder he sanctions. But I must ever love him as a creature of God for through possession of an immortal soul he yet has the capacity to repent and embrace the life God desires of him. And should I meet a non-violent Muslim my anger subsides significantly- so much so that friendship can blossom. Not because we value tolerance understand- indeed we would probably remain intolerant of one another’s faith for we both have conviction in what we believe- no what brings us together in love would be the real virtue- the desire for peaceful living.
Why is it then that so many of ‘that generation’ – who now occupy seats of power in the Western Church – delight in the fake virtue of tolerance over the true Christian virtues? Why is it when faced with moral issues they act as if toleration is more precious than chastity, say, or diversity more important than purity? It is as though they were government agents, employees of a secular think tank, not Apostles with zeal for Christ intent on delivering the Gospel.
Perhaps, as Chesterton suggests, the problem is loss of faith. They have lost the conviction necessary to represent Jesus Christ on earth? It would certainly explain why so many are largely silent in the face of abortion, attacks on the family et al but positively engaged when speaking out about environment Sunday or anti-bullying Tuesday.
It is as though the Western Church has been duped. Fooled into thinking its goal is not not to save sinners and preach the faith of Christ but to teach good manners and produce right thinking citizens of state. A call to be nice and docile and keep on living comfortably not a call to faithful service which demands certain standards in service of God and in fidelity to his command.
And it is this mistaken crusade for tolerance and niceness that drained the testosterone and fight from the church. The real men have died or left long ago. (Our education system produces few to replace them- so deep is the cultural war on masculinity) We have bred generations of nice people, clergy and laity alike, a generation scared of offending anyone and deeply resistant to conflict of any sort at all. What good is that when the church is under attack? We face the enemy with a million Larry Graysons!
And that is a major problem because kindly cowards never did build up the kingdom of God. They never were the ones who risked all evangelising hostile nations, standing up to genuine evil and causing annoyance wherever their God was being ignored. The real men and women- the Saints- cared not a jot if the whole world hated them, just so long as Jesus loved them. On such heroic terms the martyrs went to their deaths. Men and women of God…where are you now? We need you!! Yet all I see is “roll over and tickle my tummy I want to be loved by the world”…
So to my conclusion. If I am a little cranky it is because I am ill but I really do believe that, if we are to overcome a century of decline, we must rip up the modernist copybook and start again. Its time to pull out the ancient manual that produced the saints of old. We need to form and raise a new generation of heroic men and women. We must call Christians to the lives of the Saints of old.
We need true Christian mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, teachers and priests and religious, doctors and government ministers. And when you have learnt to be real Christians with zeal and backbone- unafraid of the world and in love with your God- then please, for his sake, learn how to hate. Become a deeply intolerant people. Intolerant of all that is wicked and all that is wrong that we may build up again a Christian nation under God.