Tolerance, Externalism and Holiness (book review)

Title: Tolerance, Externalism And Holiness
Author: Blair Adams with Howard Wheeler
Publisher: Colloquium Press
Date: 2009
Pages: 284

Tolerance, Externalism And Holiness (book review)

One of the common terms that is often heard in America is ‘tolerance’. People are told to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs, feelings and thoughts. This is often thrown at believers and is called a crime if one is not ‘tolerant’ of other’s beliefs and actions.

Blair takes a look at what tolerance means in both the world view and in the view of scripture. Using examples from history, both ancient and more modern, Scriptural and non-Scriptural, he points out how the world is demanding tolerance to the point of not having any standards. He uses sources that are both Christian based and secular based. It is shown how the church has chosen to become more like the world and be more tolerant of sin, than what Christ is.

Many will claim (both in the church and outside the church) that believers are being legalistic if they hold to any concrete standard and are not ‘tolerant’ of sinful practices. He takes a look at how scriptures set forth many standards to be holy and what that means to a believer.

One thing he is very quick to point out is that living by a holy standard is not legalistic if done out of love for God, His commands and love for others.

Throughout this book Blair looks at arguments that are often brought against setting rock solid foundations. The two primary areas he looks at are how one dresses and how one keeps his/her hair. There is also a look at sexual practices and beliefs and how those beliefs play into dress and hair.

Although this book is very hard hitting and writes at a higher level for most people, I highly recommend reading it. It will challenge your thinking and beliefs. It will cause you the question what you are seeing in the world today and how the church is currently responding.

Revelation 2:20 Bad Tolerance


Accepting hands

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Revelation 2:20

Tolerance is something that people want shown to themselves, while not necessarily showing it to others. The world wants believers to be tolerant of their practices and ways of living. No one wants to be judged as being wrong or ever needing to change.

Many people in the church have become tolerant of others, following the ways of the world. They have begun to accept people who they are, just the way the are. This in and of itself is not necessarily bad, but people are allowed to stay that way as they continue to ‘follow’ Jesus.

People are allowed to continue in the church as leaders and good believers while still living in purposeful sin. They are being tolerated for their ways. Many in the church have begun to accept many of the beliefs and practices of the world, because they are tolerant and ‘loving’. Sexual immorality, drugs, greed, jealousy, pride and more sins are all being accepted inside the church, in trying to be tolerant of others.

A person who has become a new believer is to change his ways of acting and thinking. He is to become a new person, not remain in his old ways of sin and death. Yet, people want to be tolerant and stay the same.

God spoke against a church in Revelation for doing this very action. They did not hold to God’s standards of living and became like the world, while claiming to follow God.

Jesus set a high, separate standard for believers in the church. As a believer, you must strive to attain those standards. It will mean that you will not be tolerant of sin and accept it. You will still love people and accept them, but you will aim for living the higher standard for God.

Take a look at your life and see if there are any areas in your life you have compromised in being tolerant of sin. Turn your focus back on to God and His ways of living. Seek to live like Jesus in every area of your life. Do not allow sin to reign in your life as you seek to be tolerant. Love but remain separate.

I pray today that you will know God’s standards of living; that you will not accept the ways of this world in your life; that you will point people to live as Jesus lived; and that you will be a witness of God’s standards in this world. 

Esther 3:8 No Toleration

Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces among the peoples of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the kings best interest to tolerate them.” Esther 3:8

King Xerxes had chosen to raise Haman up into a higher position of honor among the royal officials. It was ruled that all the other officials must bow down in honor of Haman, when in his presence. Mordecai, an Israelite, refused to bow down to Haman, making him very angry. Haman then went to the king about a group of people who were defiant and refusing to follow his rules. He wanted a way to destroy those people, even though it was only one person who appeared to be defiant with him.

Standing up for something different from the normal flow of things makes a person defiant and a type of rebel. Most people do not like someone who stands out differently than themselves. As a whole most want everyone to live in conformity to everyone else. They want unity among everyone. There is no tolerance for those who live a different life.

Believers stand out as different. Every believer is a stranger in this world. They are to live by a different set of rules. These rules are those of God. The rules are made to love and honor God first, and then love every person. Any thing less than this is not acceptable to a believer.

The world does not like that type of living. Those in the world want to be honored first over God or anyone else. When they are not honored, the world will find ways to make the Christian look bad and defiant, refusing to be obedient. This has been seen in America with rules against speaking against various sinful lifestyles.

You have to be willing to stand for God first and foremost in your life. Live the life God is calling you to live. You are different. You are to be defiant against living in sin. You are to be a rebel against doing things against God. As the world is not tolerant of believers, you must not be tolerant with sin in your life.

What are you tolerant of today?

I pray today that God will strengthen you to live for Him; that you will not fear the world’s rules; that you will be separate to God alone; and that the world will see you as a believer in Jesus.