Respect vs. Tolerance

Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston provided the benediction at George Bush’s inaugural this past week. Just as he did in 2001. There were some not very subtle differences, however. Consider the respective endings:

2001

“We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that’s above all other names, Jesus, the Christ. Let all who agree say, ‘Amen.'”

2005

“Unto you, O God, the one who always has been and always will be the one King of Kings and the true power broker, we glorify and honor you. Respecting persons of all faiths, I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

The differences were mentioned in a brief Washington Post article. From that article, we may get some sense as to how far even a pastor may need to go in order to appear at a secular event:

In an interview after the 2001 ceremony, Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, said he had prayed in the manner he had always prayed and apologized if he had offended anyone.

“If I had to do it over again, I probably would not say, ‘All who agree, say Amen,’ ” he said. “Additionally, I probably would not say ‘Jesus, the name that’s above all other names.’ That truly could be interpreted as inflammatory or offensive.” (emphasis added)

The good reverend not only apologized for his unabashed Christianity in 2001, but felt the need to soften his benediction by throwing in the gratuitous “Respecting persons of all faiths.”

Christians have not always, or even usually, respected persons of all faiths. True enough. In today’s world, those who claim to follow Jesus, to believe that He is the Way, must, by definition, love all persons. Jews. Muslims. Hindus. Atheists. Doesn’t matter what the person’s faith is, we must love the person, who, as we all are, is created in His image.

Unfortunately, that “Respecting persons of all faiths” will likely be heard as the ever-so politically correct, and dead wrong, “Respecting all faiths.” There is that unsubtle difference. A Christian should respect all persons. A Christian may only respect his own faith, though we must tolerate the faiths of others. If we consider Christianity to be the truth, then we must, of necessity, accept what Jesus tells us in John 14:6: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Any faith that does not share this one point is false.

Call it a conditional probability. The condition being confessing Jesus as Lord.

Update: Reader Guy commented that we should not tolerate certain faiths, such as Satan worship and Wiccans. Excellent point; I was thinking of the so-called mainstream world religions. He is correct. One must never even tolerate those whose worship includes evil. Or is, of its very nature, evil.

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3 comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post.You are spot on with this one. I’m always amazed at Christians who feel the need to apologize for their faith.

    I would take issue with one of your statements, though:

    “we must tolerate the faiths of others”

    We cannot and must not tolerate such faiths as satan worship and Wicca. To do so is to deny the Lordship of Christ.

  2. Isn’t worship directed to anything or anyone other than God considered “evil”?

  3. Jack Rich · · Reply

    Brad, thank you. You’re of course right. — that’s what I meant by “Or is, of its very nature, evil”. Any religion that violates the First Commandment (Ex 20:3) is, of and by itself, evil insofar as it denies God — a good working definition of “evil.”

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