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The Intolerance of Tolerance Hardcover – January 31, 2012
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-- President, Covenant Theological Seminary
"Thoughtfully shows how tolerance has morphed into a pervasive insistence that no one should hold firm convictions. . . . Not to hear and heed Carson 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."
"Carson shows the structural flaws and inconsistency of modern tolerance and its fixation on opposing traditional Christianity. . . . The Intolerance of Tolerance is not a political jeremiad so much as a call for Christians to fight for the value of truth."
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Carson does an excellent job defining the new and old tolerances with reference to historical and Biblical examples, very helpful in seeing what is happening in western societies.Published 2 months ago by Dan Rogerson
Don't believe me or anyone in anything examine yourself and seek first of God and his help in all.Awesome book, highly recommended is a not enough statement.Published 4 months ago by His Word stands
I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand how diversity is not working in society.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Anyone, who is concerned about where Western civilisation is going, should read this book. The writer is a clear thinker, clearly expressing the multifold situations in which the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Risto J. Gobius
He hits the nail on the head. To paraphrase one of my professors, "Why are tolerant people more intolerant of intolerant people than intolerant people are intolerant?"Published 11 months ago by Conure
Topically significant to current events. Quality writing and worth while.Published 12 months ago by M. O'steen