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The Age of Enlightenment and Intolerance

Who says history doesn’t repeat itself?

Seems like every time I turn around these days I’m seeing another headline or hearing of another incident of Christian-bashing. It matters not whether it’s in the media or military or local market; someone’s attacking folks (like me) who believe in God, the Bible, Judeo-Christian values, etc.

And, personally, I’m getting a little tired of it.

It seems like we’ve entered into another Age of Enlightenment or Reason similar to the one that existed in Europe and colonial America in the 17th and 18th centuries. Starting out as a cultural movement of intellectuals, its purpose was to reform society using reason and challenging those views and values that were grounded in tradition and faith. Likewise, it sought to advance knowledge through the scientific method, using skepticism and intellectual exchange.

One of the leaders of this movement in the late 1700’s was Immanuel Kant, who believed Enlightenment was mankind’s final coming of age. This involved the liberation of the human mind from a dogmatic state of ignorance.

Simply put, Kant, along with folks like Betrand Russell, Spinoza, Descartes, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, etc., sought to reform society by freeing mankind from antiquated, oppressive and irrelevant teachings like those found in the Bible.

Needless to say, this met with tremendous opposition from grassroots Christian groups and the initial movement began to wane. However, it continued in places like England, Scotland, Germany, Russia, Greece and even the United States.

Although America’s beginning was rooted in Christian values — with the first universities like Harvard and Princeton being training schools for ministers — things began to change in the 1900’s with the advent of the automobile, airplanes, television, computers, the Internet, etc.

Suddenly, no longer were we isolated, uninformed, agrarian communities. We now were able to travel and learn first-hand how other folks in other places thought and did things.

The increase in number of folks getting college educations also led to more critical thinking and a questioning of long-held beliefs and traditions.

Consequently, younger generations began rejecting the views-and-values of their parents, while also questioning authority and the importance of institutions (e.g., the church). Long-held values like the sanctity of life and marriage were rejected, giving rise to legalized abortion and homosexuality.

That’s why we’re seeing a rise in radical thinking and open rebellion to anything or anyone who dares to say such things are wrong — especially if they’re rooted in Biblical values. Now, such talk verges on hate speech or terroristic threatening and those who teach/preach such are narrow-minded bigots, worthy of lambasting, persecuting and prosecuting.

But, oh, dear Reader, such “enlightened” thinking, in reality, springs from a darkened and depraved mind (Romans 1:17-32). Rationalism or reason can never deliver us from ourselves or cure the ills of a society; only God, Who created us, can do that.

That’s why those of us who walk in the Light of God’s Truth can ill-afford to sit back and do nothing. We must decry injustice wherever we see it and resist evil wherever we encounter it. This doesn’t mean we resort to violence or begin a new round of the Christian Crusades like those in the 11th-13th centuries.

Instead, we must remain faithful and courageously stand on Truth even if it means civil disobedience. To do so will definitely cost us; but, Jesus said “In this world you WILL have tribulation—but, be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When others, who detest intolerance, act intolerantly toward us, we must lovingly resist them without resorting to their methods. And, that means pointing them to Jesus, “the Light of the world in Whom there is no darkness at all” (John 8:12), even though they may continue calling wrong right and right wrong. At least that way we’ll be able to say “I did what I could” when we meet our Maker face-to-Face.

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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