Self-Directed Intolerance: Apologizing For The Christian Faith?

“I agree that the absence of tolerance in the case of other religions is not in line with Christian values, but so to is the intolerance that comes about as a result of the excuse-me Christianity that seems to have permeated the fabric of our society.”

The above paragraph is an excerpt from the response I gave to a recent post on the Ecademy social network site which proposed that “Burning the Koran is Unchristian.”

While there is no argument there, especially when you consider the rantings of a Pamela Geller regarding the Ground Zero Mosque story (PI Post “Pamela Geller’s rhetoric appears to reflect a deep rooted prejudicial anger versus a real desire to heal“), I cannot help but wonder if tolerance has become a defacto religion in and of itself for those of us who profess to belong to the Christian faith.

In essence, have we in the process of tolerating other faiths, cultures and ideological doctrine and practices inadvertently demonstrated an intolerance for our Christian faith?  More specifically, have we become more concerned with offending others overlooking the fact that we may be offending God?

Let me share with you the following story from a February 26th, 2010 post in the Light of Love Blog titled “What God Thinks of Us Should Be More Important Than Anything . . . Including Ratings

We are all of course familiar with the saying “what is popular isn’t always right, and what is rights isn’t always popular.”

Rarely has this statement ever been as true in my life as it was this past 24-hours.

The insightful journey as I will call it, began when I booked a guest for an upcoming PI Window on Business Show whose specialty is physiognomy which “is the art of judging human character from facial features.”

Having previously met the individual through another show’s broadcast I found it to be an interesting practice in that it appeared to offer a viable bridge between the virtual world of social networking, and the innate need for people to establish a face-to-face up close and personal rapport.

I must admit that I also recognized the entertainment value, especially given the extremely personable nature of the guest – who I might add had previously been on Oprah.  In short it was likely going to be a ratings boon.

So here we are, the show is scheduled, pre-show promotion is underway and stimulating an incredible response from both existing as well as new listeners . . . what more could any radio show host want?  That is when it hit me.

At first it started out has an uneasy feeling in which the only parallel I could draw would be to describe it to you has being similar to drinking from a carton of milk which hasn’t gone bad yet, but isn’t quite fresh either.  A constant niggling or nudge if you will telling me that something isn’t right.

Despite the justification process upon which we all embark when we are at the intersection of competing interests, the more I ignored this feeling, the stronger it became, until I finally acquiesced and decided to dig a little deeper into the history of physiognomy.  That is when I began to see that it was “possible” that this was a form of divination along the lines of palm reading and tarot cards.  It was also at this point that my daily reading of the bible came into play, and in particular 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Like the proverbial neon light or five-alarm fire bell, God through the Holy Spirit could not have made it any clearer.  At that moment I truly appreciated the importance of getting into and knowing God’s Word.  Imagine what might have happened had I not been familiar with the Bible, and the scripture’s guidance relative to everyday life issues.  Without the clarifying revelation from God’s Word, I might have done what most of us have and will do when our inaudible and knowing “inner voice” attempts to alert us to possible danger . . . ignore it.

For this reason alone, the daily walk with the Lord through bible reading and prayer is essential to sharpening your receptive instincts that transforms a vague feeling of uneasiness into a knowing awareness and perhaps even an awakening.

Now informed and empowered, I then faced the difficult task of taking a stand which in this instance meant that I would have to risk possibly offending both the guest and perhaps even members of my audience.

This of course is when the second revelation hit me in that even though strife and contention do not come from the Lord, when faced with a situation where we have to chose between offending our fellow man (or woman), or God, it is clear that our relationship with God takes precedence.

I also came to the realization that the starting  point for what became a great lesson was ultimately rooted in pride.  Specifically, the opportunity for increased ratings for my show.  From this perspective, I realized that in my efforts to hit one out of the proverbial park by having a guest whose practice it turned out was contradictory to God’s Word, I was in essence being driven by the pride associated with having a successful program.  I had for all intents and purposes (at least for a short period of time), lost sight of the prayer that I say before each broadcast which is found in Psalm 19:14; “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy site, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Knowing the above, it was clear what I had to do.  I canceled the show and posted the following explanation on the show page, as well as sending a similarly worded e-mail to the guest informing them of my decision.

Based on the responses I have received, this seems to be an incendiary and perhaps even a controversial subject.  (Note: not all audience members who wrote in were enthusiastic about my guest choice, although they were in the minority.  That said even if there was an outcry against a particular guest or segment I would not have canceled the show if it had not contravened God’s word.)

While my original interest was peaked based on the concept of being able to bridge the gap between the virtual world of social networking and the apparent loss of personal contact that amongst others Hanifan had indicated was an essential element for developing the true community of purpose, it would appear that there is a great deal more to this subject.

To begin, and looking beyond its historical presence as far back as the Greek philosophers this seems to be one of the few areas in which the Christian Bible and Islamic Quran are in accord – at least from a specific reference standpoint. While the secular world defines physiognomy as “the art of judging human character from facial features,” it has also been described as the practice of “divination based on facial features.” It is this reference to divination where the aforementioned accord between the Bible and the Quran are in harmony.

This of course gave me pause for thought as I am a Christian. Because of this, I was immediately reminded of 1 Samuel 16:7 where we are told that man judges the outward appearance but God judges the heart.

These are the words that resonate with me the most . . . “man judges the outward appearance.” Referencing the definition of physiognomy as being “the art of judging human character from facial features,” I cannot help but feel that in some way for me personally I am compromising the very values that have become the foundation of my life.

In short, I will defer to God’s divine capability of judging the human heart over the limitations of our reduced and ultimately unreliable external vision. As such, I am honestly moved to cancel this segment.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but I have to adhere to those values that are central to who I am.

At this point I have not heard back from the guest, nor has anyone written in to provide feedback one way or the other.  Even though it may cost me listeners both today and down the road, I now know (if I already didn’t) that what we achieve here on planet earth means nothing if it is gained at the expense of our eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

By the way, that heavy feeling that had hung over me like a dark rain cloud disappeared the moment I took action on my decision to cancel the show.

The above experience ultimately saw me make a decision that was right for me from my own standpoint of personal conviction.

Whether I would be applauded or condemned by others while a consideration as it is for any person who steps up to the proverbial “take a stance” plate, was nonetheless  irrelevant at the end of the day, because I had to make the decision that offending another human being was secondary to not offending God.

This doesn’t mean that I judge the other person, because that is neither my responsibility nor is it ultimately my right . . . re seeing the splinter in another person’s eye while having a log in mine kind of scenario.

To some this would be a form of intolerance.  But this was a choice of sincere conscience.  Just as for example Oprah’s “concerns” regarding the reference to God being a jealous God, and the impact this had on her view of Christianity was a sincere reflection of her values.

The point of course is simply this, let’s not while being understanding and accommodating towards others forget that tolerance is a two-way street.

Remember to also check out my latest audio commentary through Blog Talk Radio’s CinchCast “Are we more tolerant of other religions, while being intolerant of our own?.”

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