Tolerance – Respecting other faiths

Last week Nick had posted “Why I Respect Jehovah’s Witnesses” and one his readers just could not seem to understand why Nick would say this, and felt that there was some contradictions in what he is stating.  Last night I was reading “Love your God with all your mind” by J.P. Moreland and I came across this statement.  He is talking about being tolerant of other faiths.

I think those viewpoints are dead wrong and will argue against them fervently, nevertheless, I will defend your right to argue your own case.  Just as importantly, I will treat you with respect as an image bearer of God, even though your views are abhorrent to me.  Finally, while individual rights are important, they do not exhaust the moral life because virtue and duty are more central than rights to the moral life properly conceived.

I agree with what Nick said, and what JP has stated as well.  I think that we can and should be able to respect others, and defend their right to be able to present their case.

Nick and JP appear to be saying the same thing.  Should I stop reading JP, and just read Nick’s blog?  😉  Hey Nick you are in good company.

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23 thoughts on “Tolerance – Respecting other faiths

  1. Robert: It’s always funny to speak of being tolerant of other faiths as if we really had any other choice. Like seriously, what would I do if I decided to not tolerate the JWs? Wipe them all off the planet? Not gonna happen.

    But like Moreland, I find their beliefs abhorrent. I think they’re as wrong as they can be but I respect the fact that they’re so convicted that their belief is right that they want to do everything they can to get me to believe it to.

  2. Oh, and full disclosure: that reader was an atheist, so basically all religious beliefs are “crazy” (as he kept saying in the comments) to him. Believing that one must believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life three days later in order to be saved and not cast into hell is just as crazy to him as flying a plane into a building because you think it guarantees you 70 virgins in heaven.

  3. At first I thought Nick’s post was a little off, but now that I read it again and that quote, I can see how this can be legitimate and may say more about me than anything else.

    I know this is nit-picking semantics type stuff, but is respecting them and treating them with respect two different things?
    Jeff

  4. Nick, yeah I totally got what you were saying, and at times I wanted to pipe in but I had nothing constructive to offer other than make some rude remark to the guy, which I thought was not going to be productive.

    Jeff, I thought about and I think what Nick was saying was more or less the same as JP. Can I treat them with respect, and not respect them at the same time???

  5. “Oh, and full disclosure: that reader was an atheist, so basically all religious beliefs are “crazy””

    I am that atheist.

    I do not think all religious beliefs are “crazy”.

    I do think it’s crazy to say that one respects peoples INABILITY to compromise on their religious beliefs, when one respects an ability to compromise over any other beliefs.

    Here’s my exact words from my comments on Nick’s blog:

    “But when it comes down to it, Nick accepts compromise when it comes to political issues, music taste or anything except religious belief… I think that’s crazy.”

    Here’s Nick in his own words:

    “I can respect that people take their beliefs about God seriously enough to not allow that opposing beliefs are equally valid or have no consequences to believing them.”

    Tolerance is fine and dandy. I don’t think that’s quite was Nick was saying – even if it’s what he says he meant.

    But my issue isn’t tolerance – it’s the entire concept tat religious belief should be held to a lesser standard than any other belief.

    Best wishes…

    P

  6. P, I am confused, I don’t understand what you mean by “…it’s the entire concept tat religious belief should be held to a lesser standard than any other belief.”

    What do you mean? If you care to clarify.

  7. PTET:

    Tolerance is fine and dandy. I don’t think that’s quite was Nick was saying – even if it’s what he says he meant.

    No, my post had more to do with respecting conviction than religious tolerance.

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “lesser standard” either. My point which I made abundantly clear in my comments to you were that compromise in other arenas is different than compromise in the religious arena where the beliefs have eternal consequences. If anything, I’m holding religious belief to a higher standard.

  8. Nick,

    it seems to me that since P is an atheist, this statement will never make sense to him “beliefs have eternal consequences“. I suppose at best he can try to see it from our point of view. Even if he does not agree, he should at least be able to understand.

  9. Can I treat them with respect, and not respect them at the same time???

    Good way of putting it.

    Can we respect part of somebody?

    For example, let’s say I think a particular talented actor is a nut job and denigrates Christianity but I respect the talent God has given them as an actor. Plus if I were to speak with them I would treat them with respect.

    Actually, maybe your fist statement answers my question. Let me know if you all (y’all is really a great word but I’m not from the south) agree. It’s something I need to pray about and seek God’s will in Scripture on this because I know I’m lacking in any case.
    Jeff

  10. Jeff, you do continue to elevate the question at hand. I think that it may vary from situation to situation, right? Respect for them as persons always, but I suppose that there can be extreme examples that I would loose complete and total respect for a person.

    When I use the word respect I define it as “holding in high regard.”

    Hmm…Is it possible that “a particular talented actor is a nut job and denigrates Christianity but I respect the talent God has given them as an actor. Plus if I were to speak with them I would treat them with respect.

    I suppose yes I would. From my position I think free speech is right, and that person has the right to say what they want, even if I completely disagree. I respect their right to say what they want to say even if I find it highly offensive.

    If I disagree with a JW, and think they are wrong, I would still treat that person with respect, and respect them as a person. Just because I disagree with them does not mean that I am incapable of understanding why they have reached their conclusions and respect them for that.

    Jeff, I love a good fight, and to argue, but that has been one of my personal journeys in life. To be more peaceful, and irenic in my dialogs. Trust me it is not easy especially if you are dealing with people who are unwilling to acknowledge that they might be wrong. I am trying to be a reasonable and understanding person. That is not to say that I won’t fight, or debate, because I will. 😉

  11. I agree it may vary some from situation to situation. I suppose all should be respected as God’s creation.

    I think there would be a distinction made between respecting someone and respecting their right to speak freely (on most things) and believe what they choose. I would never argue for theocracy.

    Although I’m not good at debating, I used to be a real hothead and am glad I’ve simmered down since I’ve joined the biblioblogosphere although I have my moments. I keep my blog very positive and argue on other people’s blogs. (ha)
    Jeff

  12. “Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “lesser standard” either. My point which I made abundantly clear in my comments to you were that compromise in other arenas is different than compromise in the religious arena where the beliefs have eternal consequences. If anything, I’m holding religious belief to a higher standard.”

    You have not explained why compromise in religious belief is bad while compromise everywhere else is good.

    And “eternal consequences”? Which ones? The “eternal consequences” you believe in are mutually contradictory with the “eternal consequences” of practically every other religion.

    I understand exactly what you are saying Nick, and as nice a guy as you obviously are, I think your beliefs on “compromise” are nonsensical.

    You are NOT holding religion to a “higher” standard. You are MORE forgiving of religious conviction than you are of any other conviction.

    “it seems to me that since P is an atheist, this statement will never make sense to him “beliefs have eternal consequences“.”

    What am I? Chopped liver?

  13. Hey P, you sound like a nice guy and I appreciate your sense of humor. I still think that there is a disconnect between what Nick is stating and what you are understanding, but that is just my opinion, I’ll let Nick respond to you.

  14. Thanks Robert.

    To me, this whole question is like that line in the Big Lebowski where Walter disses nihilism: “say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism… at least it’s an ethos.”

    To my mind one of the biggest problems of the last decade has been people thinking that their “beliefs” trump reality. Hence we have a war in Iraq based on the “beliefs” that Iraq was tied to 9-11 and that Saddam had WMDs… Despite the evidence to the contrary. We have that unnamed Bush official talking about “creating our own reality”. Hence we have abominations like “The Secret” and all that new age gunk.

    I have no problem with religious beliefs, hopes, wishes, dreams, whatever. However, I find it comforting (rational? reasonable? sensible? sane? normal?) when people are prepared to accept that their beliefs might be wrong.

    Nick seems to be arguing that he we should respect people who refuse to accept that their beliefs might be wrong… But only if they are “religious” beliefs.

    Best.

  15. P,

    thanks for coming back. “To my mind one of the biggest problems of the last decade has been people thinking that their “beliefs” trump reality.”

    I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think that there is a simple answer, nor do I pretend to have all the answers as to what reality really is. Confused yet? I am. Let me say this, that I think that true religion must be grounded in reality.

    “I have no problem with religious beliefs,…when people are prepared to accept that their beliefs might be wrong.” Just because I admit that I might be mistaken (which I do), does not mean that I am mistaken, or that I have any good reason to think I am wrong. Just because I think that there is a possibility that I may be wrong is not enough for me to abandon my position.

    There are many things that we know without being able to prove that we know them, or for that matter that we fully understand them.

  16. PTET:

    Nick seems to be arguing that he we should respect people who refuse to accept that their beliefs might be wrong… But only if they are “religious” beliefs.

    Three things:

    (1) It only seems that way because you’re ignoring everything that I’m actually saying.

    (2) I’m not arguing that anyone else should respect anyone. I stated why I respect JWs.

    (3) It has nothing to do with “refus[ing] to accept that their beliefs might be wrong”. If they can be shown that their beliefs are wrong then they should by all means abandon them. It has to do with not accepting contrary beliefs as being equally valid.

  17. If I am afraid coming late to the discussion I think that what Nick is pointing towards is integrity, however that has to be qualified with the notion of truth. Nick I accept that you may accept JWs integrity however my comment would be they are Gnostics therefore the authority of truth undermines their integrity. So I concede their attempts at integrity but if that is not related what is true and good and therefore of God as understood by the 2nd Vatican Council all they say is wrong. I am sorry Nick this is why I think JWs are wrong they are not related to the TRUTH

  18. Hi Robert — Thanks & I do understand what you are saying. What’s most amusing about this discussion is people’s assumption that I don’t get it because I’m an “atheist”.

    Hi Nick — Sheesh, and I thought we were getting on fine? Apologies if I have offended you. I didn’t mean to. I think the problem is that you and I seem to have different opinions about what counts as evidence to “show” that beliefs are wrong. You can respect JW’s all you want. Bully for you. I don’t. I think they are blithering religionistas who have chosen to be stupid. I find their position on blood-transfusions, for example, to be odious. I think they prey on the vulnerable. But Nick, you know what? Let’s not you & I fall out over that, OK?

  19. Andrew: I think that they are wrong as well. I’m not defending their beliefs, nor do I respect the belief itself. I’m only saying that I respect their refusal to compromise and say that all beliefs are created equal. This is not the case with Oneness Pentecostals who call us tri-theists but then turn around and say that we’re still “saved” or Universalists who think that what we believe doesn’t matter at all because all roads lead to heaven.

    PTET: No apologies necessary, I’m just trying to be as clear as humanly possible. I agree with you about their position on blood transfusions, I think it’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t say that they have chosen to be stupid per se, but I would have no problem saying that they are deceived, sometimes willingly, other times not. And we agree on their preying on the vulnerable as well.

    As far as showing someone that their belief is wrong, I guess the person and the belief are going to determine what lines of “evidence” to use. From personal experience I know that to show a JW that their beliefs are wrong requires matters of Biblical interpretation and a knowledge of the history of the Watchtower Society.

  20. Hi Nick… Thanks. I do see where you are coming from, and if I sound dogmatic on the subject I don’t mean to. (Well, maybe a bit ;>)

    You raise an interesting point about showing JW’s that their beliefs are wrong. Surely, if they look at their own history, JW’s should realize the error of their beliefs… But that’s kind of my point. These beliefs aren;t reached using logic and reason in the first place. Aaaaanyway. I’m happy to respect anyone as a person no matter what their beliefs. But I don’t have to respect those beliefs.

    Best.

  21. Pingback: Answering Richard Dawkins’ question: “Who made God?” « Wintery Knight Blog

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