The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Intolerance of Tolerance


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.


Several times during the last ten years or so I have been invited to give a “public lecture” at one university or another. These invitations arise when a university has set aside a sum of money to pay for the travel expenses and honorarium of someone nominated by a recognized university student group to come and give an address on some topic of public interest. For example, the local physics club may bring in a notable theoretical physicist to give a public lecture on the latest developments in the world of quarks. My invitations have come when a recognized student Christian group has made application to these funds and their proposal has been accepted. the possible topics are extremely wide-ranging. It is usually understood that the lectures are not to be overtly religious. the numbers who attend may vary from a handful to many hundreds, depending almost entirely on either the interest generated by the topic or the reputation of the lecturer, or both.

When it has been my turn, I have three times announced as my title the title of this book, “The Intolerance of Tolerance.” in each case the crowd that showed up was surprisingly large, and with a greater percentage of faculty attending than is usually the case. Believe me when I say that the reputation of the lecturer had nothing to do with the attendance: it was the topic alone that drew people. I ended each of these talks by stating my own convictions as a Christian and trying to show what bearing biblically faithful Christianity has on the sub-

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