Monday, July 2, 2012

July 02, 2012

The Difference Between Tolerance (Good) and Assimilation (Bad)

When our ancestors came to the shores of the New World throughout the last few centuries, they understood what being Protestant meant. (In this case I speak mostly of Protestant faiths with a Reformation tradition . . . Calvinism, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and those faiths that sprang from Anabaptism). It carried a world of insinuations . . . it meant to keep the faith unto death, to be willing to die in order to defend the five solas of the Reformation (grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, for the glory of God alone). It meant using only the Bible as a guidepost and beseeching the Lord, both a gentle father and a powerful judge, for daily needs. It meant having the shadows of persecution always behind you and clinging to others who shared your values.

It also meant using an empty cross to symbolize that Christ was not here on dark, death-bound earth; He has risen, and the faithful still awaited His return. It meant loving Scripture and committing much of it to memory. It meant remaining strong in the face of adversity and understanding that if those who had gone before could give everything --- including their lives --- for their faith, surely the current generation could endure whatever troubles came their way. When the Huguenots came to America, many had been persecuted quite recently. For some it was not even a question of what had happened to their ancestors but what they themselves had endured.

Being Protestant was a thing of pride.

Yet over time, people of other faiths settled in America. Some thought that being Christian and tolerant meant that one should blend seamlessly with his neighbors, no matter what place of worship --- or lack thereof --- they attended. Some might erroneously think that having religious pride means being standoffish or even prejudicial towards those of other faiths. Not so. There is a difference between keeping a separate, crystal-clear spiritual identity and showcasing one’s own core beliefs and purposely being rude, intolerant, or even physically abusive of those who follow different creeds. The Lord could not bless intolerance. Neither, however, should anyone desire to forget their past.

We must remain proud Protestants and proud descendants of our martyr ancestors even in an era when “mixing and blending” in the interest of assimilation and ecumenism is considered “in.” A surge of quiet should come when we realize the strength of our conviction and realize we have the privilege of carrying on their legacy. One can be a Protestant without being intolerant of others. I have visited Catholic and Orthodox chapels. In these places I was respectful and I understood that God blesses those who follow Him, even if it is not in the way I would like. Yet I did not don Catholic or Orthodox apparel or pray their particular prayers as I went along. I retained my Protestant, Lutheran identity while remaining respectful. It is very important to remember such things. 

We are set apart, not to be hermits (Christian love induces us to reach out to others, and we must be respectful of other faiths and desire to help others no matter if we agree with them or not) but to always keep hold of our heritage. We come from martyr blood. We are different. Our ancestors and spiritual predecessors deserve to be remembered. For the moment we forget them is the moment they truly die.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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