The Intolerance of Tolerance: DA Carson
We live in a culture obsessed with the idea of ‘tolerance’. However, when tolerance, poorly defined, is made an absolute good, it drifts towards intolerance. It must then, argues D. A. Carson, be thoughtfully challenged, both for the good of the church and for the good of the broader culture. Carson examines how the definition of tolerance has changed. It now has less to do with putting up with a person or stance while still seeking to disagree, and more to do with not saying others are wrong. It is impossible to deploy this new tolerance consistently, so that actual practice is often whimsical and arbitrary. Worse, the words ‘tolerance’ and ‘intolerance’ have become merely rhetorical terms of approval and disapprobation.
Despite the many negatives about these new, often ethically deficient definitions of tolerance, from a Christian perspective there have been gains as well. In this valuable and accessible volume, Carson uses examples and quotations to illustrate his analysis and concludes with practical advice on exemplifying and promoting the virtue of civil civic discourse.
“Nothing is more intolerant than a tolerance that requires the absence of all convictions. Don Carson thoughtfully shows how tolerance, once defined as respecting others’ right to hold differing perspectives, has morphed into a pervasive insistence that no one should hold firm convictions. The consequence of such a shift is a challenge to biblical faith that needs a biblical response, which Carson ably provides. In doing so, he gives the biblical basis for true tolerance in a just society and shows the inevitable tyranny of tolerance ill-defined. Not to hear and heed him is to enter a nightmarish world in which zeal to discern truth is replaced by zeal to keep anyone from claiming anything is really true.” – Bryan Chapell, President, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis
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