"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Christians Need to Learn from History and Become Intolerant

by Stuart DiNenno

It is often said that the only thing men learn from history is that men do not learn from history. Generally speaking, there is a lot of truth in this saying. Humanity seems to repeat many of its worst errors over and over again.

However, it is not always the case that men do not learn from history. There are some very good examples of the opposite behavior.

One of them is the development of safe air transportation. If you have ever watched videos about plane crashes and the investigations that follow, then you understand that the safety of modern airline travel is almost entirely due to corrections made after accidents that killed passengers. The reason that it is very safe to fly on an airliner today is because of all the lessons that have been learned from the disasters of the past. Multitudes of safety improvements have been made in aircraft, in air traffic control, in the training of pilots, etc. because every airline crash is followed up by a thorough investigation that finds out the cause of the crash and this leads to changes which make airline travel safer. The airline industry has learned from the history of its mistakes and this has resulted in the preservation of many lives that otherwise would have been lost.

It is interesting to note that the changes which have resulted in much safer airline travel are all because of a high intolerance for error. If a company builds a plane that has a defect which caused a crash, that company is severely penalized and forced to alter that defect. If a pilot engages in some sort of irresponsible behavior that causes a crash and he survives it, he almost certainly will never be allowed to fly an airliner again. Likewise, if an air traffic controller’s negligence or misconduct results in a major accident, he is not allowed to remain on the job. There has been a great deal of intolerance for error at every level of the industry, and this has been driven by the intolerance for error that is held by millions of people who use airline travel, the legal system that prosecutes those responsible for the accidents, and the government agencies that regulate the airline industry.

There are two things that Christians can learn from this:

(1) We can recognize that it is realistic to expect men to learn from history and to make corrections based on what they learn so that future outcomes improve. There has been no revelation from God nor any helpful change in the laws of physics that has helped men accomplish a huge increase in air travel safety, and we Christians do not need any further revelation from God or any change in existing religious principles to achieve a high degree of purity in our churches. We just need to start carefully examining our history and learning from it. We know that we had the high point of the Protestant Reformation and we have the low point today. We can examine all the religious “plane crashes” between then and now to determine how we got to where we are, so that we can correct our mistakes. If ungodly men can learn from history to eliminate errors in order to successfully preserve temporal lives, having only a little more than one century of data to work with, then Christians can learn from history to eliminate errors in order to successfully preserve eternal souls, having over three centuries of data to work with.

(2) We can learn that if we want a system that preserves life, we have to be highly intolerant of error. Intolerance has been turned into a dirty word by our satanic enemies because they know it is necessary to be intolerant to preserve purity. If you want to propagate evil in a society, one way to do so is to convince people that it is wrong to be intolerant of your evil. Of course, the idea that we should tolerate error is a ridiculous concept for a Christian to accept, and to demonstrate it, let us go back to our airline safety example. Suppose you were in a meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that governs airline safety and you were to stand up and say, “We have to stop all the punishment of manufacturers, pilots, air traffic controllers, and maintenance workers for their errors. It is persecution, intolerance, and bigotry!” Everyone there would believe you to be a fool and rightly so. Yet this is precisely the kind of nonsense that many Christians have bought into. They have accepted the absurd idea that it is virtuous to allow liars to have free rein, and that it is evil to be intolerant of their lies. This is called “religious freedom,” which is as ludicrous as having no standards for any part of the airline industry, and giving out no punishment for the most egregious acts of misconduct and negligence that kill hundreds of people, and calling that “travel freedom.”

It would be no more difficult for Christians to prevent dangerous errors from ruining the church as it has been for the airline industry to prevent dangerous errors from ruining air travel. The only hindrance to its accomplishment is unbelief. In the case of airline disasters, the carnage is material and visible. We can count the bodies and know exactly what the losses have been. In the matter of religious error, although the losses are enormously higher, they can only be seen through the eyes of faith. 

There is no zeal for rooting out error today, not because it is an impossible task, but because most professing Christians either do not truly believe the Bible’s testimony about the awful consequences for those who are led astray by lies, or they do not truly love their fellow man enough to do what is necessary to suppress the evil that will destroy him.

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