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Grace VS. Tolerance

April 22, 2009

Okay, I know that as I write this I am going to ruffle some feathers, but sometimes an open discussion can help bring about new viewpoints, and thoughts. So here we go…


Thanks to Travis Johnson’s twittering of the Exponential Conference I heard a quote by John Burke, author of one of my favorite books, “No Perfect People Allowed.” The quote was this:

“Tolerance is a cheap substitute for grace.”


Did you get that? So many of us really want to be tolerant of things, but are we getting in the way of people discovering true, God-given, personal GRACE that we all need? Lets look at the two definitions.


tolerance [tol-er-uhns]  –noun

1.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

2.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

3.interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

4.the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.


Grace             [greys]            Noun                        (I only have put the definitions that applied)

3.favor or good will.

4.a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior: It was only through the dean’s grace that I wasn’t expelled from school.

5.mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.


It seems to me that the key differences between the two is ownership and acknowledgement of an offense. If we are tolerant, we allow the offense and just agree to disagree. By allowing God’s grace to come in we teach a Godly way to live that enables them to fell the presence of a loving God to permeate their lives. So by granting tolerance instead of grace what are we robbing the people of? When we tolerate things that are against the written Word of God, do we really take away their ability to receive grace from God? Does being tolerant actually hurt the person in the long run? Please hear me when I say it isn’t about loving people, or giving them time to be discipled, or any of those other phrases that really is just an excuse to not take a stand. I think the issue is that we need to extend grace, true Godly, Christ dying on a cross, we love you but will not accept certain things, grace that is at the heart of God. Is the real problem the fact that grace is not PC therefore people are scared of it?


Just something to think about. What are your thoughts?

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