Just for Catholics

Religious Tolerance

Question: Personally I think you should mind your own business about everyone's personal beliefs on religion. I think it is disgusting how you can even waste your time thinking of new ways to criticize a person's religion.

Answer: I am assuming that you cherish the principle of religious tolerance that every person should be allowed to practice his religion according to his own conscience without being coerced or forced to change his convictions. I believe that too.

However, it seems to me that you take the religious tolerance principle too far. You probably feel that every person should "mind his own business" because it does not really matter what a person believes as long as he is sincere. You would probably accept a Moslem, a Hindu, a Protestant and a Roman Catholic and consider their respective religions as if they are equally valid even though they're in total disagreement.

Even so, you are inconsistent in the application of the "religious tolerance" principle. Do you realize that you're being intolerant of my religion? Along with millions of other Christians, I believe that there is such a thing as truth and falsehood; there is a right way to life and another that leads to destruction. Being convinced of this, I would be cruel and callous if I don't warn the people who are walking along the path to perdition. It is a matter of religious duty for me. Jesus warned about false doctrines and false teachers. So did the apostles. So did Christians throughout the centuries. And so, by the grace of God, I shall continue to do.

I have learned from experience that the most vociferous champions of religious tolerance are most intolerant of the absolute truths of the Christian faith. They will gladly allow Christians to worship Jesus as Lord, just as other people worship their gods. They find no objection if we say that Jesus is another way to heaven. But when Christians insist that Jesus is the only Lord and that all other gods are idols, and when Christians assert that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that all other religions are false, then all talk on tolerance and moderation suddenly changes into the most vitriolic attack on Christianity. We are accused of being insolent, arrogant, dangerous and, of course, intolerant!

At least we're all in agreement on this principle - namely, that there are certain ideas that should not be tolerated!

Truth is not a matter of personal opinion. God exists, even if all people were atheists. God created us, even if all were evolutionists. Jesus is the Son of God, no matter what Islam teaches. Jesus died for our sins, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, even if nobody believed the Gospel. Truth is not altered by our belief or unbelief - the only thing that changes is our destiny. For the Scriptures say, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

Therefore the popular idea of religious tolerance is not a virtue for us Christians; rather it is shameful passivity and heartless indifference. How can we who know the truth of salvation sit idly "tolerating" our friends and relatives groping in spiritual darkness? We have the water of life, how can we keep it from them who are dying of thirst?

To be sure, the methods to reach out to people should have nothing to do with offensive language, violence or coercion. Jesus did not equip His disciples with swords or torture instruments of the Inquisition. Christ armed us with love and the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in His Son. We are not called merely to tolerate people of other religions, but He taught us to actively love and pray for them, and to do good to all, even to those who abuse us. With patience and respect, we seek to expose and correct false doctrines, and to proclaim and teach the Truth, in the hope that God will open their heart to the Gospel. And that's because we really love and care for all.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A