A Letter concerning Toleration: John Locke
In an eerily timely message, John Locke, the noted 17th century English philosopher, opened his now famous essay, “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” with the following:
“Since you are pleased to inquire what are my thoughts about the mutual toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion, I must needs answer you freely that I esteem that toleration to be the chief characteristic mark of the true Church. For whatsoever some people boast of the antiquity of places and names, or of the pomp of their outward worship; others, of the reformation of their discipline; all, of the orthodoxy of their faith — for everyone is orthodox to himself — these things, and all others of this nature, are much rather marks of men striving for power and empire over one another than of the Church of Christ. Let anyone have never so true a claim to all these things, yet if he be destitute of charity, meekness, and good-will in general towards all mankind, even to those that are not Christians, he is certainly yet short of being a true Christian himself.”
In the above quotation, were you to substitute Islam–Judaism, Buddhism or any other religion or belief–for the word “Christian”, and likewise insert faith in place of “Church”, Locke’s message remains as timely and important today as when he wrote this classic essay in the late 17th century.