There's got to be a better word and approach than "tolerance" to describe what we're called to
Looking for a better word than "tolerance" to describe a response that offers dignity, civility, grace and, if need be, life-giving sacrifice for an individual or group whose beliefs, behaviors or values one doesn't share.
I am thinking of this because I heard a conservative evangelical pastor this morning seem to draw a line for his congregation about "tolerance." I think he meant well, but if you follow his logic out, it doesn't lead in anywhere I think the Bible or Christian witness goes with much validity. And, it may lead in a reactionary and virulent direction.
Tolerance may be good in some settings. But it seems to be that Jesus called for something bigger, broader than mere tolerance. I'm thinking, for instance, of the witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in regard to being more than "tolerant" of others. While many in the church "tolerated" Hitler while Jews they disagreed with perished (some thought justifiably so), Bonhoeffer risked his life to save Jewish neighbors.
I am convinced "tolerance" is something less than what Jesus described as our normative response to others. In his way of looking at things, enemies are to be loved. What response--what relationship--then, with non-enemies or friends who think, believe, or behave differently?
The very word "tolerance," to me, sets the wrong image and tone for our relationship and Christian witness to others in our very diverse world. Now, those know know me, know that I am no compromiser. But neither do I any longer accept false choices, either/ors, when a more valid and robust way of conveying the light and life of Christian faith and witness is possible. Why talk "tolerance" when something more dynamic is possible?
What's beyond "tolerance" that better expresses the heart of Christian faith and experience in relationship to others?
In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.