How Do We Explain Tolerance?

Contrary to popular definitions, true tolerance means ‘putting up with error’ — not ‘accepting all views’.
– Paul Copan

Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.
– Tim Keller

The true meaning of tolerance is not agreement, personal acceptance, or celebration of a particular way of thinking or acting. It is merely putting up with it. It is letting it exist or continue despite my disagreement.
– Clint Roberts

There is a concerted effort underway by America’s cultural radicals to force the American people to tolerate everything — except traditional values grounded in religion.
– Gary Bauer

Tolerance used to be the attitude that we took toward one another when we disagreed about an important issue; we would agree to treat each other with respect, even though we refused to embrace each other’s view on a particular topic. Tolerance is now the act of recognizing and embracing all views as equally valuable and true, even though they often make opposite truth claims.
– J. Warner Wallace

Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.
– Thomas Mann

Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant. Then it seeks to silence good.
– Charles J. Chaput

We really can’t tolerate all behaviors, and a society that shuts down vibrant disagreement and robust debate, as proponents of cultural tolerance want to do, will ultimately crumble.
– Josh McDowell

If you let culture make tolerance the preeminent virtue, pretty soon you won’t have anything else.
– George Marsden

Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying societies.
– Aristotle

In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair… the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.
– Dorothy Sayers

Tolerance is the virtue of those who don’t believe anything.
– G. K. Chesterton

Tolerance is not a great virtue to aspire to. Love is much tougher and harder.
– N. T. Wright

Potato Salads and Highways

huge.102.510428Is it really so arrogant and intolerant to think you know the truth? Let’s start with simple cases. I happen to know that the potato salad is spoiled, and the last three diners got sick just from eating it. Would it be arrogant for me to warn the others? You happen to know that the public library is this way, but the motorist who asked me for directions is headed that way. Would it be intolerant for you to suggest that he turn around, and tell him why? Is it really so arrogant and intolerant to think you know the truth? Let’s start with simple cases. I happen to know that the potato salad is spoiled, and the last three diners got sick just from eating it. Would it be arrogant for me to warn the others? You happen to know that the public library is this way, but the motorist who asked me for directions is headed that way. Would it be intolerant for you to suggest that he turn around, and tell him why?

k14209886Of course no one takes this line about potato salads or highways. On the other hand, people do take this line about who God is and how to live. “God and how to live are matters of opinion,” they say. “Where things are and what you can safely eat — those are matters of fact.” Yes, of course they are matters of fact, but they are opinions too. After all, people may have different views about just what the facts are. The other diners might be of the opinion that the potato salad is wholesome. The lost motorist might be of the opinion that his general direction is correct. Surely that wouldn’t make me arrogant to contradict them.

Science 6Differences of opinion arise even in the sciences. Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould is of the opinion that Darwinian evolution is a fact; biochemist Michael J. Behe is of the opinion that it’s not. Each scientist says that he’s right; each scientist says that the other is wrong. Does that make him arrogant or intolerant? Not necessarily — although, of course, he might be. The rule is that each one should offer evidence for what he thinks, listen to the evidence offered by his opponent, and not try to shut him up. That’s how science is supposed to work. Arrogance doesn’t come from having convictions; it comes from having the wrong convictions about how to treat people who don’t share them with you. Humility doesn’t come from not having convictions; it comes from having the right convictions about the importance of gentleness and respect.

What gives the myth of the intolerance of knowing truth its strength? Its power comes from a picture — not a photograph or a painting, but an image many people carry in their minds. In the picture, a man is being burned at the stake. He’s there because other people, who say they have the truth, are angry with him for saying that they don’t. I agree that such a thing should never happen. But in my mind is a different picture. In mine a man is also being burned at the stake — I almost said, being hung on a cross. He’s there because other people, who say there isn’t any truth, are angry with him for saying that there is.

–J. Budziszewski

A Better Way

shrugging4Forgiveness is held as a virtue by many in our world, in a way which is quite foreign to some other world views. (I recall the shock on being told by a friend in the Middle East that forgiveness had never been seen as a good thing there.) We know we don’t do it, by and large, but we think we should. The result of this, unfortunately, is that we have developed a corollary that is neither love nor forgiveness—namely tolerance. The problem with this is clear: I can “tolerate” you without it costing me anything very much. I can shrug my shoulders, walk away, and leave you to do your own thing. That, admittedly, is preferable to me taking you by the throat and shaking you until you agree with me. But it is certainly not love.

Love affirms the reality of the other person, the other culture, the other way of life; love takes the trouble to get to know the other person or culture, finding out how he, she, or it ticks, what makes it special; and finally, love wants the best for that person or culture. It was love, not just an arrogant imposition of alien standards, that drove much of the world to oppose the apartheid regime in South Africa. It was love, not a dewy-eyed anti-business prejudice (though that’s what they said to him at the time), that drove abolitionist William Wilberforce to protest against the slave trade. It is love, not cultural imperialism, that says it is dehumanizing and society-destroying to burn a surviving widow on her husband’s funeral pyre, or to kill the daughter who has eloped with a man of a different religion or race. Love must confront “tolerance” and insist, as it always has done, on a better way.

–N. T. Wright

When Tolerance Gets Twisted

canstock18173785Tolerance used to be the attitude that we took toward one another when we disagreed about an important issue; we would agree to treat each other with respect, even though we refused to embrace each other’s view on a particular topic. Tolerance is now the act of recognizing and embracing all views as equally valuable and true, even though they often make opposite truth claims.

― J. Warner Wallace

The Meaning of Tolerance

dyuwqtl8spe3ugkhhi5rss7rkr6p1jl0o6jdc051gj0wjhsd4nfabvumjj4rqw6w-Tolerance has come to mean that no one is right and no one is wrong and, indeed, the very act of stating that someone else’s views are immoral or incorrect is now taken to be intolerant (of course, from this same point of view, it is all right to be intolerant of those who hold to objectively true moral or religious positions). Once the existence of knowable truth in religion and ethics is denied, authority (the right to be believed and obeyed) gives way to power (the ability to force compliance), reason gives way to rhetoric, the speech writer is replaced by the makeup man, and spirited but civil debate in the culture wars is replaced by politically correct special-interest groups who have nothing left but political coercion to enforce their views on others.

— J. P. Moreland