COLUMNS

Where Pluralism Leads

Pastor Kevin Pauley

1 Kings 16:31 HCSB Then, as if following the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat were a trivial matter, he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and worship him.

 King Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of a Sidonian king named Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31). This woman was characterized by Jesus’ description of those who travel over land and sea to make one proselyte and then make that proselyte twice as fit for hell as the mentor (Matthew 23:15)! She and Ahab introduced the worship of Baal and the Asherah to Israel (1 Kings 11:1-8).

At first, they contented themselves with pluralism, allowing the differing belief systems to co-exist. However, just as we are beginning to see in America, the next step was to make it intolerable to make any exclusive claims regarding one’s faith. Saying your religion is “a way” is one thing; saying it is the “only way” becomes a crime. We need to learn from Jezebel’s path. Pretty soon, pluralism was soon insufficient. Making no moral claims was soon insufficient. Soon, she wanted the worship of Yahweh completely eliminated. Her “gospel of tolerance” became vindictive intolerance. The Godhead’s claim for an exclusive relationship with Their people became a threat in her mind and she began to systematically kill off the moral leadership; the prophets. Had it not been for the underground resistance of some of Yahweh’s courageous followers, she would surely have succeeded (1 Kings 18:3-4, 13).

Years ago, my wife was in a meeting where the folks (who were generally characterized by their strongly liberal Christian bent) were discussing what they understood as the fundamentalist view of homosexual marriage. One woman piped up, “I just HATE intolerant people!” How deliciously ironic and revealing that intolerance was being shown toward a conservative view in the name of tolerance!

There are elements in our society that are twisting “tolerance” into something other than its original meaning. We are now terrified of disagreeing for fear of being accused of hatred and of fomenting violence. Family and friends can’t even discuss their religious (or atheistic) views for fear of blow-ups.

If you recall, there was a time when Christianity and its core values characterized this nation and that the nation rose to great international prominence in an incredibly short period of time. Now I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone in the nation at the time was a Christian and that neither crime nor corruption existed. I do not believe in “the good old days.” I’m an equal-opportunity cynic. Wherever there are humans, sin and goodness abound in nearly equal mix. Yet by far and large, the U.S. identified itself as primarily motivated by Biblical principles – and look at the results. Consider the mix of admiration and fear with which we were held by our allies and enemies. Consider the meteoric rise of our economy, driven by the combination of Puritan work ethic and bountiful resources. Now consider the fragility of our economy, the almost universal hatred with which our nation is held by both political allies and foes, and our reputation as the source of the party lifestyle and materialistic narcissism. If the “intolerance” of morality led us to national success, where do we think the “tolerance” of immorality will lead?