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.
Read a review by Rachel Bomberger
and a blog post by Carson
about the book on EerdWord
-- Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
"In these highly contentious times we need a renewed understanding of the meaning of true tolerance. True tolerance means taking our deeply held convictions seriously because understanding our differences actually makes a difference. Disagreements matter. True tolerance means engaging one another with civility and respect despite our differences. It is not incompatible with firm convictions or the desire to persuade others. 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."
-- President, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis
"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. 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."
"In this excellent book, D. A. Carson's aim is to explain and give a critique of the contemporary understanding of tolerance. . . . Profound and intellectually forensic while being surprisingly accessible. It provides a startling analysis of the new tolerance, and a rigorous critique of it, while refusing to be defeated by it. It is a book for our time, and one that I would recommend to every thinking Christian."
Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
"Carson has penned an inviting and worthy introduction to one of Western culture's obsessions in the twenty-first century — tolerance. . . . He produces a frank, critical, and iconoclastic survey of this emerging issue from post-modernism's distain of truth. . . . Not the final word on the topic, but it rates as a solid contribution on a contentious matter."
"Well researched and engagingly written. . . . Intellectually stimulating without being stuffy or overly academic. Carson is a gifted writer with deep insights. This work is attuned to mixed audiences of academics and the public, Christians and skeptics. It is recommended for each."
"An excellent and timely work."