The Dawning Age of Intolerance

D. A. Carson is coming out with a new book called The Intolerance of Tolerance. Carson is one of the sharpest minds in the evangelical world today. Anything he writes is worth reading but this is a topic that is of great importance for us today. Here is the 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.

 Here is a clip to give you a foretaste of the things Carson addresses in the book in detail.

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