As Christians, should we be less quick to ridicule or denounce religious views outside our own? A fair enough question. Paul states in his letters to Christians in Corinth, Greece to give none offense, neither Jew, Gentile, or the church of God. His reason is two fold: 1. Being offensive doesn't bring glory to God, and 2. it inhibits the ability to convey the message of salvation....our Great Commission as followers of Christ.
I personally fail in this area on a regular basis, and asking for tolerance (as well as humility) is in my daily prayers. The catalyst for this post is an article I read yesterday on CNN.com titled Episcopal minister defrocked after becoming a Muslim.
How does this happen? I repeated to myself over and over while reading about an ordained minister who actually thought she could be a Christian and a Muslim at the same time. While she embraces the beauty of Islam, she clings to her faith in Christ. How does this happen? How can people become so confused? Just look around brother. People are confusing the word tolerance with the word acceptance on a regular basis these days.
Yes, Jesus initiated conversation despite traditions with the Samaritan woman at the well, but He did so in order to deliver His message that He was the Living Water. Paul instructs Christians not to be offensive to other's beliefs, so we might deliver the message of Christ to a more receptive audience. The Word clearly states that the only way to the Father is through His Son.
During my 'dark years' of searching for Truth, I studied a number of theologies in detail. I understand that Jesus is mentioned by name in the Ko'ran more times than Mohammad; however, I also understand that Muslims do not recognize Christ as God. He was a prophet of great importance, but not God. That doesn't work for a true follower of Christ. Hinduism and Buddhism both acknowledge the importance of Jesus within the context of their beliefs, but not as the Son of God. The Savior of all men.
Here comes my swing at New Age...everyone can't be right. According to most New Age philosophy (and Oprah), there are many paths to God. Live a good life by helping others, don't worry about religious beliefs not your own, and we will all meet in Heaven someday. But that's not what the Bible says, and the Bible is the foundation of my faith as a Christian.
So, there is a huge difference between coexist with tolerance and coexist with acceptance. If you are a Muslim and I accept your belief in the Ko'ran, I am accepting the teachings of the Ko'ran and will no longer make effort to convey the message of the Bible. By doing so, I am denying the Muslim a chance to know the true path to God through Christ...and thus, I have failed my Savior.
I'll close with a short video from Lee Strobel who does an excellent job conveying the conflict of acceptance but the love in tolerance between Christians and Muslims, the worlds two largest faiths: