Tolerance Versus Bigotry

The mental state termed "tolerance" is well worthy of general cultivation. Tolerance connotes forbearance, willingness to grant to another the privilege which one reserves for himself of holding firmly to an opinion, especially in regard to religion and questions of a political nature, at which one has arrived after mature deliberation. It is on the subjects of religion and politics that men appear to differ most violently, and over which, in consequence, they are most inclined to manifest intolerance. Bigotry, on the other hand, signifies precisely the opposite to tolerance; it is intolerance toward the opinions of others. The bigot not only holds to his own views and conclusions regardless of the evidence, but often claims the right even to force his opinions upon others.

Tolerance fulfills the high sentiment of the Golden Rule; bigotry refutes and denies it. Christians, following in the footsteps of the Master, are tolerant; they stand for personal liberty and the right to independence in thought and action. Close study of the Nazarene's career, however, does not bring one to the conclusion that Jesus was ever tolerant toward error, evil; for he rebuked and destroyed it, whenever confronted by it in such a form as demanded his attention. When he found the money changers and merchants plying their trade in the temple, he rebuked them most severely, even overturning their tables, releasing the doves, scattering the sheep and cattle, and whipping the culprits out of the holy place.

But, one might ask, was not this action on the part of the Master intolerance—bigotry directed toward those whose thought was not in agreement with his? Christ Jesus frequently took strong, even violent, exception to the operations of evil, rebuking and destroying it, when thus dealing with it would help a given situation. His action in the temple was prompted by his desire to establish truth and righteousness in place of bigotry and selfishness. He well knew that the worship there had largely degenerated into a commercial enterprise; that spiritual worship had ceased; hence his stern action in purifying it. And because his position was taken in the name of good, it is not to be classified as bigotry, as lack of forbearance. It was rather in the fulfillment of divine law, the having of none other but the one God.

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The Divine Standard of Perfection
September 15, 1928

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