The conversations I have with my Christian friends and family members usually center on the dangers of Christianity. They will invariably speak about how Christianity is relatively peaceful compared to the horrors inflicted upon the world in the name of Allah. The following atheist meme sums it up:
All joking aside, and to give Christians credit, the militant Christian murdering a family physician due to religious beliefs about abortion is rarely observed. Just in the last week alone, however, we’ve seen a deadly suicide attack by the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in a Shia Hezbollah-dominated suburb of Beirut, and the same Islamist organization take control of an entire city in Iraq. The dangers of Christianity pale in comparison to the threat of Islam. Take another look at the picture above. If you were forced to invite two of those guys over to dinner to discuss politics, which one would be snubbed? I’m pretty sure the guy with the bomb won’t get an invitation.
But why are Christians so “tolerant”? I use the word “tolerant” loosely, of course. Why aren’t they out in droves murdering atheists and other non-Christians? The answer is because most Christians are failed Christians.
I’m not making a “no true Scotsman” argument here.
The Spanish inquisitors were following the literal teachings of Christ, complemented, of course, by Deuteronomy. The Spanish inquisitors argued that Jesus supported the widespread torture and slaughter of non-Christians. Indeed, they were right. John 15:6 says “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
Modern Christians almost categorically reject the idea that non-believers should be killed. It seems natural that this should be true. As breakthroughs in science, and indeed knowledge, are made, religions must liberalize to survive. For example, we no longer believe that non-believers are given magic abilities to harm Christians through sex with Satan. Because of that, we no longer believe that atheists pose existential threats to Christians. Therefore, most Christians have no reason to kill a non-believer.
But this liberalization of the Christian religion is nothing more than an example of failing to live by the teachings of Christ. Christianity, through this liberalization, seems to be able to just throw away teachings that counter modern social norms. By admitting that certain Biblical teachings no longer apply, one is also admitting one of two things: 1) Christianity is flawed and thus subject to scrutiny, or 2) Christianity is perfect and the Christian is a failed Christian.
I posit that it would counter Christian beliefs for a Christian to admit that Christianity is flawed. If this is true, then Christians should confess their uncertainty and failings.
Indeed, Will Durant, in The Age of Faith: The Story of Civilization (1950), writes, “Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous” (p. 784).