This past Sunday I preached on our first and foundational core value as a church: The Bible is our Basis. (To hear this sermon, click here.) While writing this sermon last week, I wanted to equip my congregation to answer some of the common objections to Scripture that are given by unbelievers at the water cooler at work, over the back yard fence, on major network and cable television, on radio talk shows, at the state university and private college, or at Thanksgiving dinner by a relative. However, I quickly realized that after expounding the Scriptural basis for this first core value at new3c, I was not going to have time. Instead – and in God’s planned providence – I’m excited about offering my research for a wider audience on the blogosphere.
First, I will address the response (to the doctrine that Scripture is the authoritative Word of God) that says, “It’s ridiculous and offensive to assert that the Bible contains exclusive truth.” This rebuttal to Scripture’s authority is offensive to the (new) view of “tolerance” which Western culture currently holds – which is, ironically, very intolerant of Christianity.
Western culture has not always expressed “tolerance” in this way. Tolerance was once a concept and practice that was championed by the Church of the Lord Jesus. But this term has been redefined. D.A. Carson explains the social evolution of the word as follows.
“The older view of tolerance held either that the truth is objective and can be known, and that the best way to uncover it is bold tolerance of those who disagree, since sooner or later the truth will win out; or that while truth can be known in some domains, it probably cannot be known in other domains, and that the wisest and least malignant course in such cases is benign tolerance grounded in the superior knowledge that recognizes our limitations. By contrast, the new tolerance argues that there is no one view that is exclusively true. Strong opinions are nothing more than strong preferences for a particular version of reality, each version equally true.” – D.A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance (p. 11), emphasis mine
In coming days we’ll hear from several bright evangelical minds (from the past and present) regarding how we, as Christians, ought to respond to this cultural challenge in the marketplace of ideas – be it in the white collar board room or over burgers in the backyard.