Sep 27, 2006
The idea of religious toleration is not new, but only in recent years has it been implemented with any degree of success. Carnally-minded religious leaders have had a long history of intolerance, as long as their particular religious view remained in the majority. Minorities want tolerance and equality; but when they succeed in becoming the majority, they tend to become intolerant and desire privilege rather than equality.
Constantine had a dream just before conquering Rome, in which he saw a cross in the sky with the accompanying revelation: "By this sign, conquer." Thus, the great symbol of redemption and love was transformed into a sword. Though Constantine issued his great "Edict of Toleration" in 313 A.D., that toleration was short lived. Once the Church ascended to a position of power through Emperor Constantine's favor, the carnally-minded Christian leaders showed themselves to be quite intolerant of anyone who did not conform to the doctrinal conclusions of the Church Councils.
When the Church reached a certain pinnacle of carnality, enforced by a Roman bishop who declared himself to be supreme over all the other churches, then within three years God raised up a rival in the form of Muhammed. He was chosen by God to show the Church what it had become--an intolerant religion with a big evangelical sword.
These two religions clashed almost from the beginning, each attempting to "liberate" people and holy real estate by the power of the sword. God appeared to require much sacrifice in order to attain the greater good of establishing His Kingdom. Where each lacked the power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate and manifest Christ and His Love, they found the sword to be an effective substitute.
Joining religions through a fear motive became the accepted model of the Kingdom of God, and many came to fear God, but not to love Him. Men lost a personal relationship with God and no longer knew Him as Father. Many even thought that it was blasphemous to call Him their Father, though Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father. . ." Instead, God became an impersonal King and a stern Judge. He was placed so far above mankind that He became unknowable. No longer were we "sons of God," but His mere servants.
Our perception of the character of God forms our own traditional values in our dealings with each other. For the Christians, since God was now seen to be a God of endless torture, it was inevitable that men would imitate that perception of God by condemning heretics to be burned at the stake. Since God was going to burn people forever in an infinitely-hot "hell" anyway, it made sense to Church leaders to use such threats to make them recant, submit to the decrees of religious men, rejoin the mainstream Church, and thus save their souls from a fate worse than the relatively cool fire at the stake.
The Church actually had become a strange breed. Toleration was her mother, but she was fathered by intoleration. The Church tolerated pagans in the Church, who worshipped God on Sunday and their own gods during the week. But they would not tolerate any doctrinal deviation from the precise terminology defining truth as established by Church Councils. As long as a man remained submitted to the Church leadership, almost any behavior was tolerated, as long as the sin tax was paid at confession.
This situation continued until the Bible was translated into the common languages of the people beginning with the 15th century. The Christian West borrowed the printing press from the Chinese, while the Muslim East borrowed its gunpowder. Thus, the printing press put forth the first printed Bible between 1450 and 1456. The Muslims conquered Constantinople with the first successful wartime use of gunpowder in 1453.
The Muslim rejection of technology--in this case, the printing press--hindered most scientific development in the East until the 20th century. Thus, the Ottoman Turks were eventually conquered during World War One, and only then did many begin to see their humiliation in the light of the West's technological advancement.
Meanwhile, the secular Enlightenment, coupled with the religious Protestant movement, formed an informal alliance against the power broker of the West--the Roman Church. The Protestants wanted freedom of religion, and secularists wanted freedom from religion, yet each had a common enemy standing in the way.
When Protestant, John Calvin, attained power in Switzerland, he was anything but tolerant of Catholics and even burned a man at the stake. The idea of Toleration has traditionally been a tool of conquest, for religious men want toleration for their own benefit, not for the benefit of competing religions. In other words, they demand toleration so that they have a chance to gain power and are able to be intolerant of the new minority.
The idea of toleration in America was firmly implanted, not by the competing forms of Christian religion, but by Freemasonry, which desired freedom of its own. But this brand of toleration was not without its fatal flaws as well, for as it developed, toleration married multi-culturalism and pluralism. The firstborn son of multi-culturalism is disunity.
We now have a multitude of religions, including witchcraft and Satanism. We tolerate religions that advocate human sacrifice, sexual immorality, murder of rivals, and every vice known to man. One man's vice is another man's doctrine, and so America is now becoming increasingly intolerant of intolerance itself. It will not be long before it will be illegal to criticize another established religious belief. Peaceful evangelism itself is already illegal in many countries, most notably among Muslim countries, but also in the Israeli state.
President Bush is now using the Sword of Constantine, not to establish Christianity in Muslim countries, but to establish the religion of secularism and the doctrines of democracy. It is a New Crusade, though not a Christian one. Most Muslims, no doubt, desire "freedom," but they want to obtain it through the principles of Islam. Whether or not this is possible remains to be seen, for ultimately, it is not the religion itself that will determine their path to freedom, but the people who interpret the religion.
The Roman Church was able (officially) to renounce the use of force and violence at its Vatican II Council in the early 1960's, largely through the Masonic influence of Pope John XXIII. The majority of Islamic leaders are not yet ready to do this. They want to be known as a religion of love and peace, but too many are still willing to kill anyone who says that they are not a peaceful religion. Such utter contradiction does not seem to register with them yet.
To me, true toleration is possible only through a heart of love--not the love of the secularists and religionists, which is limited to eros or phileo love, but the love of God which is agape. To a secularist, sexual freedom (eros) is love; to a religionist, love (phileo) is a 50/50 relationship based upon justice and law; to an overcomer, love (agape) is the ability to give one's life for an enemy and not merely one's friends (Rom. 5:6-8).
"For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love [agape] toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
A religionist's love of God is manifested by his willingness to die for God and to kill God's perceived enemies. But the true Christian who walks in the footsteps of Jesus is willing to die, not only for his own enemies, but also for God's enemies. So Paul tells us in Romans 5. It is not that one tolerates sin, but that one has an overwhelming concern for others and is willing to evangelize, not by the blood of the sinners, but by the blood of the righteous. Very few understand such love, because it is all too rare in the earth.
lood of the sinners, but by the blood of the righteous. Very few understand such love, because it is all too rare in the earth.