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.
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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.
—Bryan Chapell, distinguished professor of preaching, Knox Theological Seminary
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.
—Mark Driscoll, preaching and speaking pastor, Mars Hill Church
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.
—Michael Cromartie, vice president, Ethics and Public Policy Center
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has written or edited more than 50 other books, including The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism and Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.