Delivering the commencement address to Liberty University’s graduating class on May 11th, Vice President Mike Pence pointed out the ironic intolerance exhibited by some people who trumpet tolerance yet denigrate the tenets of Christianity. He said that Christians in modern America face opposition that they did not previously in the nation’s history.
“You know, throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian. It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now. Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence stated, warning that the 2019 graduates will face pressure to “tolerate” and even “endorse” that which contradicts their faith and “to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.”
“So you need to prepare your minds for action, men and women. You need to show that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time through words and deeds,” he declared.
While the vice president warned Liberty’s Class of 2019 that they will encounter opposition, he encouraged them with a reference to Daniel 3’s account of three Jews named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who emerged unscathed from a blazing furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar sentenced the men to die in the furnace because they would not worship a golden image. The Bible explains that the trio was delivered into the furnace “bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments,” but when Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking in the furnace unbound along with a fourth person, he said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Pence told the graduates that “If, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you end up in the fire, there’ll be another in the fire.”
He also exhorted the graduates:
So, Class of 2019, my word to all of you is decide here and now that you’re going to stand firm, that you’ll put into practice all the things you learned here on Liberty Mountain, that you’ll never give up, that you’ll persevere, and that you’ll always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have, and you’ll do so with gentleness and respect. Because our nation and our world need that message of grace and love maybe more now than ever before.
He said that “America has always been a nation of faith” and he told the new crop of graduates, “as you strengthen your foundation of faith and the foundation of faith among the American people, you will be strengthening the foundation of America itself.”
The vice president is scheduled to speak at Taylor University’s 2019 commencement later this week on May 18th.