Probably the most common bumper sticker that I have seen on cars around Cleveland is the popular “coexist” bumper sticker where the letters are symbols of various world religions. Over at the Lutheran “Worldview Everlasting” website the confessional (LCMS) Lutheran pastor Rev. Jonathan Fisk spends a good chunk of his most recent WE video talking about this bumper sticker and its “tolerance” message. Among some of the points he makes are the following:
1. Tolerance*, in the older sense of being willing to allow others to hold views and practices with which you disagree without hating or seeking to persecute them, is actually a Christian virtue. Jesus Christ was the One who taught us to love even our enemies, and Scripture teaches us to seek to do good to all (even non-Christians with whom we disagree). Wherever Christianity has been faithfully and consistently practiced (which, admittedly, it hasn’t always been), it has led to great tolerance and legal rights for non-Christians living within Christian majority nations. On the other hand, most of the non-Christian religions represented on the “Coexist” bumper sticker, such as Hinduism and Islam, have histories drenched in blood and violence. So-called “progressives” who slap the “Coexist” bumper sticker on their cars as a way of subtly accusing Bible-believing Christians of being “haters” and “intolerant” are actually using a Christian virtue (tolerance) to criticize historic Christianity, and thus are themselves manifesting a spirit of intolerance toward those of us who hold to the “T” of the “Coexist” bumper sticker.
2. The basic message conveyed by the “Coexist” bumper sticker is “Shut up Christians, stop talking about Jesus!” It implies that all religions are equally valid, equally true, and thus that it is inherently “hateful” to think that your religion is better than others; and it is especially hateful for Christians to believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. But, again, the message that all religions are equally valid is not only illogical (since the various religions make contradictory truth claims); it also shows that those who believe it are in fact being intolerant toward those of us Christians who actually take Jesus’ teaching about Himself seriously. After all, it was Jesus Himself who claimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) When Christians confess Jesus to be mankind’s only Savior and the only way to God the Father, they are not being “hateful.” They are simply seeking to be faithful to what Jesus Himself taught. To accuse Christians of being “hateful” for confessing Christ’s teaching is itself an act of hatred against Christians.
3. The “Coexist” bumper sticker is preachy. Another subtle message the bumper sticker seems to communicate is, “Stop shoving your religion down my throat!” But, ironically, the “Coexist” bumper sticker is itself a pushy, preachy bumper sticker that promotes a particular religious view. Talk about shoving one’s religious views down the throat!
To the fans of the “Coexist” bumper sticker: Are you willing to “coexist” with those of us who disagree with your relativist, pluralist viewpoint? Are you willing to tolerate us enough to allow us not only to believe and preach our faith within the four walls of the church, but also to allow us to seek to win others to Christ through evangelism and to live out the implications of our faith outside the confines of the church within our families, communities, businesses and neighborhoods? Or are you only willing to “coexist” with those who agree with you?
You can view Rev. Fisk’s video here: http://www.worldvieweverlasting.com/2014/08/08/come-and-see-the-violence-inherent-in-the-system/
*The so-called “new tolerance” differs from the older tolerance in that basically the “new” tolerance means you are a “hater” if you dare to express disagreement with others. The new tolerance requires conformity to the prevailing “progressive” opinions and values of contemporary society, and does so behind the smokescreen of “diversity.” Those who do not tow the line with the new tolerance are to be vilified, demonized and marginalized as “bigots” and “haters.” Basically the “new tolerance” is intolerance masquerading under the guise of tolerance.