Learning Great Toleration
A continuing problem in the world is learning how to live
across the toleration divide. Historically we live now, I
believe, in a period of humanity’s learning toleration. It is
not over yet. The nature of man is to be literal and begin
arguing about the literal, fighting over what is the supposedly
correct literal political or religious idea.
Now this is misguided because a great aim of man's journey
to God is to teach him a spiritual toleration of a diversity
of literal answers. The literal answers are usually considered
right by those who hold them, otherwise why would they hold
them? Only not everyone is ever going to agree on creedal or
political correct answers. The creativity of God is mightier.
Lights of His grace are seen reflected by a thousand prisms.
In each prism a another viewpoint is seen. No one is wrong for
seeing them, but wrong to think one light is the only light.
Which viewpoint should a person hold to? Hold to the grace felt
and experienced by you. Everyone is in a unique spiritual
position moving towards God. Because of that, not everyone is
going to agree on which literal answers either creedally,
politically or spiritually are correct. I suggest agreement
is not so important as tolerance. What is important is the spirit
of love and toleration that we share when we agree to disagree.
In that is God’s Spirit. There is the Word made flesh. God is
not to be found on the side of a literal answer to be forced
upon everyone through violence and propaganda.
We are supposed to spiritually grow in religion. Such states
of growth are in love, concern, compassion, tolerance, and if we
may disagree, we should not attempt to pound each other into
agreement on literalisms. Temporal things, worldly things,
materialistic things pass. What is seen around us changes,
vanishes, and is gone. What we really need is an attitude
of love and tolerance, not agreement that is creedally or politically
correct. Creeds and politics belong to the temporal world of
changing illusions. What we seek are eternal SPIRITUAL STATES of love and grace to endure a changing world. Our treasure is
a spiritual state that redeems the world.
Those having The Literal Political System or Religion are a dime a
dozen. It was formerly so in many Christian churches. Members
laid waste their souls fighting on what was THE correct literal
creed instead of trying to achieve higher spiritual attitudes
and states of grace where God is shown to be loving,
compassionate, genuine, patient, and tolerant out of His great
love. This love includes a Magnificent Courtesy of Mind in
respecting free will choices made sinfully by us as we have
exercised free will wrongly or harmfully. We need to emulate
this magnificent courtesy of God. Let us so tolerate.
When the great Martin Luther inspired the Reformation, it
was a disagreement on literal creedal answers as well as
ecclesiastical government through literal organizational
politics. It started as a dispute over literal answers.
What creed was to be recognized as right? Then followed a
long historical growth period all churches disliked but
brought toleration. Then the question changed from a literal
dispute argued over by denominations to the establishment of
a spiritual attitude, toleration that churches had to learn
to live by and with each other.
Since all the churches were governed by different political
methods and philosophical insights, the coming of toleration
was also something of a political settlement. The spiritual
dictatorship of the Pope, for example, was allowed along with
the free voting of the Baptists. If that was what the churchy
organizations wanted, that was what they might have.
So why should not similar but different political systems be
accepted by all in an exercise of toleration. It seems
political systems are fighting over the One True Political
system that is supposed to be the literal answer in
politics. In the old days it was the divine right of kings.
How can any one political structure be offered as THE answer to
all psychologies, temperaments, cultural levels, views
and intelligence sizes among peoples? Frankly, I cannot believe
one type fits all politics, cultures, temperaments or peoples
than I believe one type of religion fits all when I consider
how people are positioned at different levels of spiritual
want. Some creeds speak to different peoples. Different political
systems speak by the voice of a inner calling to different
groups. Why not toleration? Why not let peoples start where
their wants are and advance as they are able?
The world today is tearing itself apart over who has
the One True Political System just as churches of yesterday
tore countries apart over which was the One True Faith in
Religion. Perhaps the political systems will finally
learn tolerance as the churches did: by acceptance after
accumulated exhaustion in countless useless and self-righteous
wars. In the meantime until tolerance is inevitably established,
our political adolescents are juvenile in their attitudes.
I suggest the situation of the political governments is
rather like that of the churches. None are pure. All are
flawed, but all contain some truths worth listening to.
This acknowledgment is necessary because all work with the
impure and sinful clay of a selfish and confused human
nature. Perfection from humanity is not an option.
The greatest job of the Churches of all religious faiths
that center on God as Suffering Love is to give peoples not
literal answers but spiritual states. The chief spiritual
state that needs to be taught is that God is love; and
toleration is an offspring of love. Love and toleration
are needed for all churches and all political systems, not
because they are right, but because they are made up of
diverse peoples God loves. We tolerate not because we
agree but because we respect everyone as children of God.
Differences are still differences, but love is mightier. It
is not and never will be unanimity of mind and emotion
that holds the world together. It is unanimity of love. So we
must teach toleration for others thinking differently because
of God and God is love. (I John 4: 7-8 )
Historically we are in a period of centuries that might
be called the Great Toleration. It included the agonies and
wars of religious toleration that have not yet completely
stopped but wisely and widely been reduced. Yet the world still
suffers the accompanying agonies of war and vicious
disagreement in political differences. Man is still at it.
We have yet to teach toleration. But if it is not learned, then we continue to have major disagreements on minor religious or
political points, we continue to shout “heresy” at each other,
and continue unceasing political wars that, like those in
religion, are over dramatizations. But it is always difficult
to live in an historical period of time, enduring the learning
of toleration. Until finally exhausted by wars, the acceptance
of Inevitable Toleration arrives.
It is only right that a religious faith should develop
a spiritual state. It can be a misuse of religion to try
to use spiritual methods to obtain literal things. What God
has to give and teach us Most and Best is the divine God-like
states that are part of His Divine Being. We need to share them.
By our spiritual development in faith we should implore God for
the spiritual states of love, faith, compassion, toleration
and joy that God has to share with us. God for love of us, His
children, tolerates us even when we are wrong just as we do
our children. Can we do less for Him than we do for them?
In our toleration our love is shown. In our teaching toleration,
the spiritual wisdom of love is shown and proved in action.
Therefore let us act. And in our actions show toleration of
the different thinking and ways of others.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.