Be Intolerant of the Right Things


The other day, I posted “The Intolerance of Tolerance,” wherein D.A. Carson discusses the development and ramifications of the postmodern understanding of tolerance. Listening to his thoughtful and careful exposition set my mind to work, and I found with a number of questions.

Do we, particularly those of us who have been raised with a postmodern mindset, have a right understanding of what it means to be tolerant? And how is our understanding of tolerance affecting us spiritually?

Take the bookstore for example. When I go to Chapters, it’s always interesting to look at the titles in the Religion/Christianity section. There’s a very diverse selection of titles  by a number of authors offering a variety of perspectives and positions. Naturally, some of these are very helpful and generally biblical, and others are anything but. (It’s fun to see Tim Keller and Bart Ehrman next to each on a bookshelf.) They run the full gamut. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t expect the mass market bookstore to have anything but this kind of mix, simply because they’re not catering to a specialty market.

Then there’s the specialty market—the Christian bookstores. What’s funny is I notice a lot of crossover between the mass market and the specialty. A lot of works that are really good and helpful, and others that are downright unbiblical. [Read more…]

D.A. Carson: The Intolerance of Tolerance

Thoughtful insights from D.A. Carson on the development and ramifications of the postmodern understanding of tolerance. After listening to this clip, I began thinking a great deal about the content, the fruit of which I’ll post later this week. For now, enjoy the audio and the transcript:

The intolerance of tolerance… And it’s important to understand that the notion of tolerance within this framework has a certain intellectual heritage that has been transmuted by postmodernism.

Under the modernist paradigm, tolerance looked something like this: I may disagree with you, but I insist on your right to articulate your opinion, however stupid and ignorant I think it is.

That’s tolerance.

In other words, this means there is tolerance for the individual to say things with which I disagree. The tolerance is directed toward individuals. But, there is robust debate at the level of content and substance.

So, I may disagree profoundly with Marxist historiography; but, if I’m a tolerant person under a modernist regime, I insist on the right of the Marxist historiographer to articulate their views. But, likewise, under the Western vision of tolerance and under a modernist camp, I insist on the right of Capitalists to articulate their views, or Theists to articulate their views, or whatever—however right or wrong I think they are. So that unless there is something deeply, deeply damaging to public well-being, as for someone coming along and vociferously advocating pedophilia… then the notion of tolerance allows you to defend almost anybody teaching almost anything. [Read more…]