THE INTOLERANCE OF TOLERANCE
When the young French sociologist De Tocqueville wrote his seminal work Democracy in America, his central thesis was the tyranny of the majority in America. Right now, the opposite seems to be the case, when instead, the minority often shoot everyone else down with accusations of “intolerance.” There is something strange and ironic about the whole thing!
As D.A. Carson points out in his book The Intolerance of Tolerance, we live in a culture that puts a supreme value on agreement when it comes to a worldview—there is simply no room for dissent. This worldview is rooted in the psychological “self” that now dominates Western culture, a view inherited from Rousseau and Freud, among others. It has resulted in a culture that is filled with emotionally fragile people. Despite all the rhetoric about being tolerant, those on the left (politically and theologically) are some of the most intolerant people around.
The 2010 movie Expelled, narrated by Ben Stein, pointed this out so well when it comes to the creation/evolution controversy in secular universities. The scientific community is a very closed, tight-knit fraternity (when it comes to things like evolution) that you only contradict if you don’t care about a paycheck. The same is largely true today when it comes to the Covid narrative that is favored in the media.
“Why are you so intolerant!?” Our son Ben received this accusation from a teacher in one of his history classes in high school. This was an accusation our kids received in their public high school on more than one occasion, and it’s certainly an accusation I’ve received on more than one occasion as well!
The biblical call is clear: We are called to carry an intolerant message that is offensive, although we are to do so in a loving manner. As Francis Schaeffer pointed out years ago, the “mark of the Christian” is not a watered-down message, but a clear message of God’s love and wrath brought by people who love and deeply care about lost people going to hell. It’s a message brought by people who respect and listen to others as they share God’s story from the Bible. That is true love and tolerance.