"Thinking you know the truth is arrogant and intolerant."
If we held the challenger to his own standard then he would have to admit he is also being arrogant and intolerant. After all he is claiming to know this truth: thinking you know the truth is arrogant and intolerant. So ultimately his challenge is self-refuting.
We could ask this person, "You said, 'Thinking you know the truth is arrogant and intolerant.' Do you think that is, indeed, the truth?" Wouldn't that then make you arrogant and intolerant for thinking you know the truth about this? Is the issue really the claim to know the truth or is the real issue your disagreement with what they think is the truth?"
Does simply thinking one knows the truth about something make one arrogant and intolerant? If I discover my neighbor is an Islamic terrorist and is building a bomb to blow up an airplane, would it be arrogant of me to warn the airline of his intentions? Would it reflect my intolerance of his religious and political views? Should I tell myself, "Well his views are just as valid as mine so who am I to judge him wrong? I don't want to appear intolerant of other people's ways of getting to heaven, even if it does involve blowing up oneself and others." After the disaster those passengers' families surely wouldn't bless me for my tolerance. Society would judge me with criminal conduct and utter stupidity.
Well, all of this is common sense and the challenger would even agree. So why do people accept and perpetuate this accusation? They do it for at least three reasons. First, they associate arrogance and intolerance with some of the terrible acts done in the name of Christ. They've seen the pictures in history books and movies of Medieval Crusaders killing Muslims, of Puritans burning women they thought were witches at the stake, of imperialistic Christian nations forcing natives to convert to Christianity. These are truly terrible and shameful actions by Christians who misinterpreted and misapplied biblical texts. Second, they might be trying to justify their own wrong actions. During their own lifetimes they've seen in movies, on TV and perhaps firsthand, preachers condemning behaviors like sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion and so on. If they've done things like that and want to find justification for continuing to do them they don't like to hear any condemnation of their own behavior. Third, on still a deeper level they get defensive. They become angry with anyone who even suggests their behavior is wrong. With an increasing number of people in our society, this angry reaction can be triggered by the most subtle hint of disapproval. In contemporary America people and groups aren't allowed to burn others at the stake for their behavior or beliefs anymore. But if given the opportunity some opponents of God's moral standards would turn the tables back around to burn Christians if they could. Why? Because they don't want us around to tell them they are wrong. Since our laws and social morés don't allow that, they resort to things like character assassination and expulsion from school. So it turns out that these challengers can be just as intolerant as those they condemn for being intolerant.
Christians have a unique model in Jesus Christ for hating the sin but loving the sinner. When He was with people He clearly communicated that their behavior was unacceptable while offering acceptance and forgiveness to them as a person. One of the reasons Jesus hates sinful behaviors is that they are destructive to that person and the people around them. In his love and compassion for them He did not want to see them destroying their lives and others. We, too, must not only be clear about the behavior we condemn but why we condemn it. It is not that we simply want them to get in line and follow God?s rules for the sake of following the rules. That is legalism. Instead, they must know that we love them and want what is best for them.
Arrogance comes from thinking you as a person have more worth than the other person because you are somehow more perfect than they are. As Christians we understand that all people have the same intrinsic worth. In addition, we recognize and admit that we are not perfect, that we, too, commit sins and are capable of committing great atrocities. This results in humility. But while we should not believe we have more worth than another. We have every reason to believe that our God-given truth and ethical and moral standards are better and have more worth than the competing brands. This is not arrogance. The Christian system of truth and morality can be objectively tested, measured and evaluated. When we do this to claims about a car's performance or the cleaning power of laundry detergent we don't call Consumer Reports arrogant for finding out the truth do we? Instead, we welcome the information as a way to protect ourselves from fraud.
Simply claiming to know the truth about something is not arrogant or intolerant; it's how you treat another person that shows if you are arrogant or humble, intolerant or tolerant.
Budziszewski, J. How to Stay Christian in College, Colorado Springs: NavPress. 1999. p. 68
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