Tolerance and Religious Schooling

ISIS presents one of the worst examples of tolerance. What does this say about its god?
The newest ISIS video release doesn't show the destruction of human lives, but the destruction of the creative work of ancient cultures. Who is not glad to see that at least some of ISIS's attention is temporarily diverted from killing (though they have just taken hundreds of Christians captive)? However, this new kind of destruction is similarly rooted in the character of their god - he is controlling and intolerant. Islam is first and foremost a religion of rigid beliefs and commands that when followed, elicit the mercy of Allah to forgive and accept followers into heaven.

Some would question, "Is this so different from the Christian faith? Though our God commands us to love Him and all others, Islam also calls its followers to be merciful and presents Allah as a loving god. Though we Christians are not God's hands of judgement, hasn't God merely shifted intolerant judgment to a later date? Isn't the final judgement of our God in which the
"sheep are separated from the goats" a close parallel to judgement in Islam?"

No! Though similarities are obvious, the nature of judgement and punishment between Islam and Christianity are more different than between "vigilante-ism" and "due process." Though the ends
may be similar, each reflects different concerns, character, and motives. ISIS kills people and destroys antiquities that are offensive to Allah. The long-suffering God of the Bible tolerates sin and idolatry with the hope that His love will become evident to each individual. He has not only "tolerated" sin, but suffered for sin on our behalf to express His love. God's judgement, as C.S. Lewis reflected in The Great Divorce, is not so much punishment as it is the natural consequence of choosing to live apart from God's goodness.

The God of ISIS is intolerant of opposition and demands that all follow, believe, obey, and serve him. In spite of Koranic words of love and mercy, he seems to have no love or respect for the lives or work of those who refuse to follow him; they must be destroyed. Let our homes and schools reflect our loving and merciful God who I believe appreciates even the creative art of the non-believer - even as He longs for that work of skill and beauty to draw the heart of that artist toward his Creator. Our God is secure enough and caring enough to tolerate the disobedient and imperfect.

As the actions of ISIS reveal the nature of their god, parents, teachers, and administrators must insure that their actions present and reflect God clearly. Classroom settings are dangerous to this end. Since they require authority, control, and evaluation, they unfortunately provide ample opportunity for students to come to see God as authoritarian, controlling, and critical. Christian school administrators and teachers (as parent teachers) must not only teach "proper beliefs and behaviors" (such as done in Islam), but they must reflect the long-suffering love and compassion of our God.

As Christian educators serve God, the family, the Church, and society, let us be known for our true tolerance. Let us reflect a tolerance that discerns truth and goodness while not easily taking offense… A tolerance that reflects a concern for Truth through patience, service, and mercy rather than through the destruction of the people and works of our opponents. The the Light shine!
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