On Being Fair and Tolerant

By Larry Ray Hafley

One should always be objective, fair, and tolerant. That is understood and needs no further statement or argument. However, there are calls for fairness and tolerance which are ploys for time and pleas for sympathy. This is true in combat and controversy. “Don’t . be so hard; be more fair and tolerant” is the cry that false teachers wail and whimper in order to bide time and bleed pity: This is especially true in the contentions of the day. The pious, plaintive pleading emanates, not from the opponent of error, but from its exponents and proponents. The tendency of humble and compassionate men is to go the second mile, but one’s mercies must not displace meekness with weakness and allow falsity to usurp the throne, of truth.

Brethren who have had to bear the brunt of the battle against the new versions of Calvinism and the perversions of grace and fellowship have had to endure the rebukes of those who desire a mellow rather than a militant course. But the only language error understands is the offensive kind. You cannot tickle it; you must tackle it. Tackles raise bruises and throw people in the dirt, while tickles cause folks to laugh and slap backs. A tackle is not as enjoyable as a tickle, but no football player ever tickled his opponent and stopped him from scoring. Tackling is the least desirable means, but it has one advantage that tickling does not have-it works.

Paul was well schooled in hand to hand in-fighting. He labeled Hymenaeus, Philetus, Alexander, Demas and tolerated them not, “no, not for an hour.” Then he turned and urged Timothy to do likewise. That sounds like he was saying, “Fight my kind of fight,” and he was! “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering” (2 Tim. 4:2). To certain ones, being fair and tolerant means ceasing to reprove, rebuke and exhort. That is not the definition by the faithful. So, we shall tackle hard and fair, but we will allow no one to run toward the wrong goal line.

Truth Magazine XIX: 38, p. 598
August 7, 1975