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The Intolerance of Tolerance Paperback – February 8, 2013
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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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Near the end of the book the author gives ten things Christians should do in response to the new tolerance. Among them are: preserve a place for truth, insist that the new tolerance is not "progress," practice and encourage civility, evangelize, be prepared to suffer, and delight in and trust God. Carson is an excellent author -- this title is the first I've read by him, and it won't be the last. I highly recommend it.
After reading Carson’s book, I was challenged to see how I myself judged things based on how tolerant something sounded, as opposed to understanding the moral or ethical truths undergirding the issue. Addressing many challenging topics, from homosexual behavior to the barring of Christian groups on college campuses for being “intolerant” (because they required their leaders to be, of all things, Christian), he teaches the reader how to recognize and challenge the falsely assumed belief that if a viewpoint is secular, it is inherently neutral, or that because a viewpoint has religious underpinnings it automatically is flawed. He reminds us that tolerance and intolerance are based on a belief and value system (secular or religious), and in themselves are not arbitrators of morality. Carson’s book is engaging, thoughtful and a good introduction to these issues.
Tolerance no longer means what it did in the past. The definition has been co-opted. By disagreeing with another's viewpoint we are now seen as intolerant. Our Western culture has departed from allowing opposing views in the marketplace of ideas.
Carson begins his levelheaded study by discussing how the concept of tolerance has changed. He looks at the historical perspectives of tolerance. He explores what the bible has to say about the topic and how the morphing definition of tolerance is impacting our modern church. Carson concludes the book by suggesting a guideline for a biblical posture and a Christ-centered response to the issue.
Carson contends the new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another's position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as our own. We've moved from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the forced acceptance of all opinions. We leap from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we disagree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid. Thus we have slid from the old tolerance to the new.
Very seldom, in our modern world of volatile opinions and condescending debate, do we find a Christian response that does not also plop down into the mud. Carson takes a popular and contentious topic and provides factual, rational and biblically based analyses of the issues and the response. Carson remembers that Christ is above the fray.
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Reviewed by Jack Kettler
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