The Conundrum of Tolerance

Recently, I finished D.A. Carson’s The Intolerance of Tolerance a truly masterful commentary on the state of our broader culture.  The premise of the book argues that tolerance as once was defined has now changed and morphed into something new.  At one point, tolerance was stated as “accepting the existence of different views” to now it reflects an “acceptance of different views.”   Carson writes,

To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it.  The new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another’s position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as your own.

This mindset is extremely problematic on several fronts, not the least of which is that fact that it leads to moral bankruptcy and a forfeiture of knowledge.  As our society becomes increasingly hostile towards absolutes, it is important to recognize the hypocrisy in this assertion.  To proclaim there are no absolutes is an absolute statement in and of itself and flips the issue of being tolerant upside down on it’s head.

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