Friday, August 25, 2006

Intolerance of Belief

My internet service was down for a little while yesterday, but when I got back on, I had received three emails concerning a "peace march" and "hate speech" in our town of El Sobrante (location of our church building). Let me fill you in some details. Over a month ago, toward the end of our morning service, we began hearing extremely loud chants on a microphone in a foreign language, obviously something close to Middle Eastern or Indian, with accompanying drums. I didn't like what I heard, but then I remembered that the Sikhs (pronounced "sicks") were having a march/parade right by our church property. I wasn't angry. I thought it was a great opportunity to run down to Appian Way (we're pretty far up a hill, with the road in a valley) to pass out tracts. We have a Sikh temple in our town, one of the few in the Bay Area and I would venture one of the few in the whole United States. Five to ten years ago, I had written a gospel presentation customized for Sikhs. We have handed out hundreds and hundreds of them. I was the first person in our church to reach the streaming crowd in festive Punjab apparrel, many men with ceremonial turban. I smiled and complimented and handed out about 40 of them myself before walking back up the hill to take my family home for lunch. As I walked up hill, other men came down to peacefully walk the public sidewalks passing out dozens of these gospel presentations.

Then yesterday, I get a protest. Talk about a late echo. This was not a laser quick reaction. It simmered for awhile in crock pot before I got my spoon full. One letter was from the temple leader, J. P. Singh. Another was from our neighbor at Bianco's deli, and the third was a reporter from the West County Times, asking me to call him.

The Sikh's projected this march/parade right downtown El Sobrante on Appian Way as a multicultural, multi-religion peace event. Part of the Sikh religion is that they respect all religion and that someone can end up in heaven taking numbers of different spiritual paths. This parade included a gigantic picture of one of their gurus that was proceeded by a crew to wash down with a hose, the road right before this truck and trailer. There were the loud chants on microphone in Panjabi and the pounding drum beats. All of this, of course, was to proclaim the equality of all religions, the peace between them all, and the definite non-supremacy of Sikhism.

Contrast this with about seven or eight men in Sunday dress, walking quietly on public sidewalks, handing out literature, speaking in our national language. The letter I received from Mr. Singh said:

We do not preach hate of "religious supremacy". . . . . By the way in Sikhism we respect all religions the same - none is inferior or superior. I respect Lord Christ and Prophet Mohamed as much as I respect my own Gurus.

Then I get the letter from Mr. Bianco, who wrote to Mr. Singh and sent me a copy:

Am I to understand that the only booth where "hate-speech" pamphlets were put out against you is in my parking lot? I want you to know I STRONGLY CONDEMN such attitudes, and I'm embarrassed and disappointed that my neighbors would treat you, (also my neighbor) in such a manner.

Mr. Singh is as well, as you might understand, doing all of this letter writing in the name of peace. He wants to protect everyone's constitutional rights and welcomes a parade with loud Bible preaching about the Prince of Peace right in front of the Sikh Temple. Well, hate speech was preaching what Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." That's exclusive, yes. It is also something that has been preached here in this country since the first Pilgrims got off the Mayflower. It was Jonathan Edwards, one of the early presidents of Yale, who preached the famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

I talked an hour with the reporter and he seemed to agree with me at the end. Here was my rant. We can't be intellectually honest and not judge important things like what we believe about eternity. We can't relegate judgment to only movies and restaurants. Jesus told believers to warn about Hell in his kingdom parables in Matthew 13. If rejection of Christ results in Hell, we can't be loving by saying nothing. If we love health, we must hate disease. Truth is antithetical. We can't be against things and for them simultaneously.

Baptists gave the country the first amendment freedom of religion. We cannot coerce someone to believe something. And we don't want to, but neither do we want to be coerced to believe in nothing. Alan Bloom over 25 years ago now wrote The Closing of the American Mind. His thesis was that if we tolerate all and believe nothing, we will close our minds to everything. Religions that contradict cannot both be true. We cannot be intellectually honest and not recognize this. If not, then all we will tolerate is not believing. Anyone who believes something is rejected for intolerance. These are things that are important and should be discussed and then believed, not muted because of politically or theologically incorrect positions.

People who won't tolerate belief have a belief---they believe in not believing and reject everything except tolerance. They love ecumenism. Ecumenism many times doesn't take Scripture grammatically and historically. Ecumenists often allegorize Scripture, an approach to the Bible that arose a few hundred years after God's Word was written. This method of interpretation is extremely subjective. The meaning of Scripture depends much on personal feelings. In this case, getting along with each other becomes more important than finding out and then obeying what God said. Men in this perverted system, of course, are more important than God and what He said. Getting along with one another becomes the only acceptable belief.

Hate speech becomes anything that disagrees with toleration. Toleration is agreement not to disagree. Everyone gets along as long as no one believes anything. And they can believe nothing except toleration because they have made Scripture totally subjective. You may say that Jesus is Lord; you may say He was a good man; you think He was just a prophet; you say he was a revolutionary; and you say He didn't even exist. And you're all right! Anyone who says differently has done hate speech and is an opponent of peace and unity.

Here's the thing. We didn't try to stop the Sikh parade, but they want to stop us from handing out tracts. Why? Our quiet tract distribution was about our supremacy. Their loud, bombastic peace demonstration was about equality and inferiority. But if you say it wasn't, then you are judging and that's not good for unity. But who said anything was hate speech? Aaaah. Yes. Is calling something "hate speech, " well, "hate speech." We will defend their right to call it "hate speech" as long as we have the right to keep preaching faith alone in Christ alone for salvation, as intolerant as that might seem.


Bill Hardekcer said...

"If rejection of Christ results in Hell, we can't be loving by saying nothing."

Amen! Praise the Lord for a good Gospel witness in El Sobrante.

Dave Mallinak said...

The gospel according to the intoleristas... "Hate hate, love love." They are pretty intolerant of intolerance, aren't they?

Michael McNeilly said...

Did it make you sikh to your stomach?

Don said...

Hey, Kent, if you get a writeup, will you post the link?

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Derek Makri said...

It is going to be by means of this "hate speech" argument that the freedom of speech will be taken away from Bible believers. If we think we will always have the freedom to preach that we do today, we are naive. It is sad and scary to see the tables turning like this in our country. May we not back down as you are not!

Terry McGovern said...

Wow! Almost sounds like they (Sikh) have the same message of Billy Graham and Robert Shuller (sp). i.e. All have their own way to God.

No wonder so many people are confused today about God. Even "Christian leaders" preach this message of tolerance. Which is really nothing more than a message that is blinding people to the truth and cure they so desperately need!

I thought you presented great arguments to the reporter. I am sure he has never heard it put like you said it. Hopefully it will make him think personally.

Jason Hodge said...

I have worked along side Sikhs and members of other Indian provinces/castes. If you want an example of over-rendered, less-understood religion, look into Hinduism! NOTHING is absolute. In witnessing to a couple of them, they were very intreagued by the simplicity that is in Christ, but couldn't accept that salvation was so easily achieved. So they rejected it and proved that for some, it's not.

Sudheer suggested that I might be a guru to lead him into enlightenment and that Christ might be the God he was to find, but all of it upon a framework of Shivan Hinduism. Very confusing.

If you get a chance, ask them what part their traditional Kirpan (sword or dagger) plays in universal tolerance and peace. There's very little Ghandi in that Kirpan!