The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Intolerance of Tolerance
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Carson, D.A.


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Publisher's Description

We live in a culture obsessed with the idea of "tolerance." Any viewpoint must be accepted —unless it rejects other viewpoints — and whoever is most earnest wins. This idea of tolerance must be thoughtfully challenged, argues D. A. Carson, both for the good of the church and for the good of the broader culture. Otherwise, poorly defined tolerance drifts ironically toward true intolerance.

Carson examines how the definition of tolerance has changed. It now has less to do with recognizing the right of another to disagree with us, and more to do with not saying that others are wrong. It is impossible to deploy this new tolerance consistently, so that actual practice is often whimsical and arbitrary. Worse, the word "tolerance" has almost become an absolute good, and "intolerance" an absolute bad. Tolerance and intolerance have become merely rhetorical terms of approval and disapproval.

Despite many negatives about the new, often ethically silly definitions of tolerance, from a Christian perspective there have been gains as well. In fact, Carson says, the nature of the Christian revelation is such that some tension in our understanding and practice of tolerance is inevitable.

In this extremely readable volume, Carson uses anecdotes and quotes to illustrate his points and ends with practical advice on exemplifying and promoting the virtue of civil civic discourse.

256 Pages
Published February 2012

About the Author

D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and president of The Gospel Coalition. He has written or edited over fifty books, including Christ and CultureRevisited.

Book Details

256 Pages
Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publication Date: February 2012
ISBN 10: 0802831702
ISBN 13: 9780802831705

"Nothing is more intolerant than a tolerance requiring 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 than no one holds 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 of Covenant Theological Seminary

"The debate around Christianity has sadly 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. Dr. Carson has done a masterful job helping Christian leaders understand how to navigate a cultural context that is increasingly tolerant of seemingly everything but Christian belief."
- Mark Driscoll, Founding Pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle; President, the Resurgence; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network