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The Intolerance of Tolerance [Kindle Edition]

D. A. Carson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Tolerance currently occupies a very high place in Western societies: it is considered gauche, even boorish, to question it. In The Intolerance of Tolerance, however, questioning tolerance -- or, at least, contemporary understandings of tolerance -- is exactly what D. A . Carson does.

Carson traces the subtle but enormous shift in the way we have come to understand tolerance over recent years -- from defending the rights of those who hold different beliefs to affirming all beliefs as equally valid and correct. He looks back at the history of this shift and discusses its implications for culture today, especially its bearing on democracy, discussions about good and evil, and Christian truth claims.

Using real-life examples that will sometimes arouse laughter and sometimes make the blood boil, Carson argues not only that the "new tolerance" is socially dangerous and intellectually debilitating but also that it actually leads to genuine intolerance of all who struggle to hold fast to their beliefs.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Michael Cromartie
-- Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
"In these highly contentious times we need a renewed understanding of the meaning of true tolerance. True tolerance means taking our deeply held convictions seriously because understanding our differences actually makes a difference. Disagreements matter. True tolerance means engaging one another with civility and respect despite our differences. It is not incompatible with firm convictions or the desire to persuade others. In this timely book D. A. Carson argues that today true tolerance is not well tolerated. He makes a passionate plea for a recovery of an older form of tolerance, insisting that the existence of disparate views is vastly different from the acceptance of all views being equally valid. Important matters are at stake here, and Carson cogently explains why they are so urgent."

Bryan Chapell
-- President, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis
"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."

Mark Driscoll
-- Pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle
"Sadly, the debate about Christianity has shifted from 'is it true' to 'was anyone offended.' The Bible assures us that the gospel message will be offensive, although the gospel messenger should be loving. Carson has done a masterful job of helping Christian leaders understand how to navigate a cultural context that is increasingly tolerant of seemingly everything but Christian belief."

About the Author

D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. He has written or edited more than fifty other books, including The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, and Christ and Culture Revisited.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1944 KB
  • Print Length: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (January 31, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007BLNI4Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,195 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
By JP
Format:Hardcover
"Tolerance" has taken on an idolatrous golden calf status in our culture as of late, being the predominant ideology in nearly all areas of life. In The Intolerance of Tolerance, D.A. Carson tackles the elephant in the room, arguing against the current form of tolerance, which ironically is no tolerance at all.

Birthed out of a series of lectures Carson has given across the Western world, the main argument of the book is that tolerance has come to be the prevailing mantra of our time. However, tolerance no longer means what it used to, and the new form of tolerance is not very tolerant at all; at its best it is veiled intolerance and at its worst it borders on the absurd. Carson describes the old tolerance as a stance that acknowledges the existence of both right and wrong, and discoverable, defensible truth. This tolerance accepts "that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist" (p. 3). This tolerance respectfully engages in debates and criticisms. However, as Carson deftly argues, a new tolerance has taken over that is intolerant of the old tolerance.

The new tolerance, Carson argues, is tolerant of all things on the surface, so long as no dogmatic, absolute, judgmental, critical, or disparaging remarks are made. This new tolerance has become part of the unquestioned plausibility structure; it accepts all opinions and renders them all equally valid. But under this new tolerance, right and wrong cease to have any meaning. It does not acknowledge any specific truth, and labels any religion or system of thought that claims to be true as intolerant. Thus, any disagreement - let alone claims to exclusive truth - is demonized as intolerant, leaving no room for anything but a spineless, tyrannical tolerance.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolerance: What does it mean? February 15, 2012
By PstTBG
Format:Hardcover
Is tolerance the highest ideal? What does tolerance mean and how can it be achieved? Can an evangelical Christian be tolerant?

Carson's book deals with these questions as he probes western culture and its fixation on tolerance as the ideal that drives all social interaction. In his preface he states that there were two main incentives to writing this book. The first was the broad appeal and interactions in university settings when he lectured on this topic. The second was the overview that he had provided in his earlier book on culture, Christ and Culture Revisited. He wanted to explore the theme of tolerance and intolerance in more detail.

In the introduction Carson provides two similar but competing definitions for tolerance that become the basis for everything else that he says in the book. He calls these the old tolerance and the new. The old tolerance is defined as the belief that other opinions have a right to exist. The new tolerance is defined as the belief that all opinions are equally valid. He unpacks these ideas and demonstrates from interaction with many other authors that these two ideas undergird much of the confusion and ultimately disagreement that one encounters in trying to discuss differing belief systems.

The next few chapters cover how the shift in meaning of tolerance has occurred and then how it has been applied in today's society. Carson demonstrates how the older idea of tolerance is vital to a free society, and how the newer definition is actually inconsistent and ultimately unsustainable. Truth claims by major religions including secular humanism, if taken seriously, all deny the idea of tolerance in the newer definition.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Intolerance of Tolerance Book March 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This quick read is a must especially for those who get frustrated with the political correctness that has consumed our nation. You know that something is very wrong when people are so quick to condemn, be offended, or threaten lawsuits for mere opinions. One side of the coin states that we have the right to freedom of speech; yet, if that speech irritates or "offends" someone, then the speaker is automatically considered an infidel!

What ever happened to common sense? If I trip on the curb, it isn't the curb's fault: it's my fault for tripping. As I often comment in my college courses that I teach, "if someone offends you with a comment, you CHOSE to be offended..." End of discussion.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
D. A. Carson is a Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is widely regarded as today's foremost New Testament scholar. Published last month, The Intolerance of Tolerance is a welcome and much-needed addition to his catalogue of over 50 works.

The purpose of Carson's book is to examine how the definition of tolerance has evolved over the years and to evaluate the detriment such change has spelled for both the Christian church and the broader culture. Carson's first chapter is entitled The Changing Face of Tolerance and his first heading reads The Old Tolerance and the New. Carson argues that while the verb "tolerate" was originally defined as "ACCEPT EXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS", the verb has now subtly morphed to mean "ACCEPT DIFFERENT VIEWS". Carson describes this change as "subtle in form but massive in substance" (3).
Carson's subject is daunting and he acknowledges the immensity of his task right from the first page. He notes that `hinting that tolerance might on occasion be intolerance is unlikely to win many friends' (1). On a more philosophical level, he surmises that `tolerance has become part of the Western "plausibility structure"... widely and almost unquestioningly accepted...to saunter into the public square and question it in some way or another is not only to tilt at windmills but also culturally insensitive, lacking in good taste, boorish' (2). His thorough analysis of the challenge he faces, however, lands him in good stead to topple the erroneous assumptions of tolerance that may be lodged in the reader's mind.

Carson's subject is clearly defined and he can afford to be exhaustive. He evaluates the present scene in chapter 2 (What is Going On?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Carson's Timely Work
Dr. Carson explores a timely and salient matter in the world today and ties it to our freedom of expression. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sharker
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely
How timely can it be? The notion that definition provides intended meaning that does not change and that the word tolerate does not mean to agree with.
Published 1 month ago by Bob Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the New Tolerance!
This title is the best I have read so far this year. Carson distinguishes between two kinds of tolerance. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David R. Bess
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Behind the Curtain of Culture
The cry of tolerance rings out across all cultures. Individuals and groups reach out to find a seat at the table of society. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pastor Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars agree or disagree with Carson, it's more than worth the read
If you want nothing more than to understand a conservative Christians mindset when it comes to this issue of tolerance, this book is a perfect resource.
Published 2 months ago by EJ
5.0 out of 5 stars A puzzle within a puzzle
This book could, might, possibly add to the reader's understanding that today's problems that need to be fixed, solved and understood, may have more underlying issues. Read more
Published 3 months ago by W. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in a while
Wonderfully well written and culturally relevant book! I couldn't put it down. One of the best books I've read in a while!
Published 4 months ago by Melanie Escartin
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that everyone should read
A book all should read and understand, especially in the great "gay rights' push happening now in America. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Big Willie
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive Assessment of a Current Dillemma
Now that I am nearing the conclusion of this perceptive account, I realize that I had a tin ear regarding much of our current cultural and political logjam.
Published 6 months ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars Carson Writes a Winner!
Donald Carson nails it! He shows how the modern notion of tolerance on matters of truth and morality succeed only by eliminating those two categories. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Don P Portland
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More About the Author

D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 books, including the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament, and is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

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