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by Tim Challies
Over time, a word can change its meaning, sometimes picking up an entirely new definition and sometimes expanding or contracting an existing one. It is not unusual to see a familiar word explode into contemporary parlance with a far more expansive definition than it has had in the past. Think about “tolerance.” For many years the word quietly meant something like, “accepting the rights of others to have a belief different from your own.” Then, suddenly, the word was everywhere and carried a meaning like, “accepting other people’s views without critique.” As D.A. Carson says, “this shift from ‘accepting the existence of different views’ to ‘acceptance of different views,’ from recognizing other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance.”
We still hear a lot about tolerance and the unpardonable sin of intolerance. And now, closely related, we’ve got a second word to describe the people who commit such an offense: They are haters. And, like “tolerance,” the word “hate” has taken on a new and wider meaning. It has always been used to describe an extreme, passionate dislike for another person. But suddenly it is being used to describe simple disagreement, especially when that disagreement is with society’s prevailing opinions and agendas. Any perceived intolerance is quickly drowned out by cries of “hate!” or “hater!” The problem, of course, is that if everything’s hate, nothing’s hate. As we expand the use of the word, it loses any meaningful definition.
Today, everything short of glowing endorsement can be counted as hate…
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