Intolerant of any opinion that differs from their own, distorting the views of others, and using ad hominem attacks to advance their argument sound to many moderns like Christians throughout history. These characteristics are impressed on us by those who actually do these things, namely left wing activists. Right wing ideologues can do the same thing; but, today the leftists seem to manifest such behavior to a much greater degree.
It is not the modern Christian Church that primarily commits these acts of bigotry. Yes, Christians have a set of dogmas, teachings, that we defend in our loyalty to Christ. Defense of dogma does not necessarily mean bigotry and intolerance though, unfortunately, such has happened in the history of the Church. Such bigotry is not in the spirit of Christ and His teachings. Christ holds us responsible for our failures and shows mercy to those who repent.
If one wants an eminently modern version of the relationship between dogma and bigotry, one has to look to the leftist movements of the last one hundred years. In reading Karl Marx, you will find a consummate dogmatist who has spun out through his influence vile bigotry, hatred, and violence, even if he did not intend such a consequence. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot are the primary examples. The result of their bigotry has been the deaths of millions of people. Indeed, the far right also has such a history. Hitler is the primary example along with petty dictators, autocrats, and fanatics that have soaked their countries in blood, e.g. the Taliban in Afghanistan.
One can hold to a set of beliefs, i.e. dogma, without the hatred and blood. Christian teachings stand against violence. When it occurs among Christians, it shows a tremendous disloyalty to the teachings it wishes to proclaim and preserve. It is not so with Communism or any far left movement. They are born of violence.
When Christians witness, we must be careful to demonstrate truth and love, not truth and hatred, not possible anyway. Let’s keep our tempers down so that we can witness effectively to those who have not yet accepted the Gospel of Christ.
Paul writes, “. . . speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ . . .” (Ephesians 4: 15 ESV) Let us always remember this wisdom when we witness to others.
Michael G. Tavella
August 24, 2019
Saint Bartholomew, Apostle