D. A. Carson has done us all a great service. More and more the cry for tolerance is going forth. Except if you listen to the cry closely what you'll notice is the cry quickly changes from tolerance to uniformity. The old tolerance encourages differences of opinion including religious truth claims and recognizes this as a blood-bought freedom and positive good. It also encourages thick skin and thoughtful, concise conversations. The new tolerance will have none of that. If your position is too far off the beaten track or seems too confident in its claim for truth, you will most likely be shouted down and called an assortment of names ranging from “intolerant,” “bigot,” or “hateful.” That’s too bad because that’s not too tolerant. And that’s the point.
Carson first begins by examining this change and frames it within its historical context. He then moves out wide lens and looks at the history of tolerance and intolerance. He pinpoints our current problem by pointing out that it’s not an accidental intolerance, rather it’s an intolerance with an agenda (pp. 84-85). He next at targets the focus of the intolerance which is mainly Christians and Jews who make claims to truth especially issues of morality (pp. 122-23). And then how much of the push for tolerance includes the pandering of Islam and force feeding of the gay agenda (pp. 137-38). He closes by offering a way ahead with ten words on how we can address this encroaching intolerance.
The New Intolerance in Evangelicalism
One thing that struck me as I was reading through The Intolerance of Tolerance is that the new intolerance is also prevalent within evangelicalism. And the culprits are pastors and Christians who treeat every critique against their pet position as a personal attack and any examination of their doctrine or church growth model as an intolerant attack on the body of Christ. First, we must all realize that criticism, the good, the bad, and the ugly, is beneficial. It sharpens. Second, we must get back to the old tolerance. Disagreeing with someone’s public position or interpretation is just that a disagreement. Finally, from my experiential observation many of these wolf-criers have come out of or were in some way affected by fundamentalism negatively. However, let’s not over react to one error with another.
A Must Read
The Intolerance of Tolerance is a must read for all Christians. And all means all. As we pilgrim through this new world of where holding strong religious beliefs is intolerant we must be able to speak intelligently, accurately, and lovingly to this militant movement of intolerance of tolerance. D. A. Carson wades through the bog for you and provides you with salient talking points that help you stay on track when speaking to these issues.