by J Warner Wallace
The Easter season often ushers in a period of cultural skepticism and criticism of all things “Christian”. At times like this, the issue of religious “tolerance” is sometimes raised and examined. Christians are often called intolerant, especially when examined under a new definition of tolerance that has emerged in our culture. How should we respond when people call us “intolerant” simply because we refuse to embrace a particular value or behavior?
FIRST: Help People Understand “Classic” Tolerance
YourDictionary.com says that tolerance is “a tolerating or being tolerant, esp. of views, beliefs, practices, etc. of others that differ from one’s own”. And when asked what it is to tolerate something, the same source says that we ‘tolerate’ someone when we “recognize and respect (others’ beliefs, practices, etc.) without sharing them”. TheFreeDictionary.com says that ‘tolerating’ is “to put up with” or “endure” something.
Now did you notice something here? In order for ‘tolerance’ to exist and to be demonstrated, several things are required. Let’s take a look at the list of pre-requisites for ‘tolerance':
1. Two or more people must exist
2. These folks must hold divergent views, beliefs or practices. In other words, they must DISAGREE.
3. These same folks must endure one another. In other words, they cannot eliminate each other even though they don’t embrace each other’s beliefs, but must instead find a way to peacefully co-exist.
You see, ‘tolerance’, under this classic view, requires a disagreement. Without the disagreement, ‘tolerance’ is not even possible. Now let’s take a look at a new accepted view of tolerance that has emerged in our relativistic culture…
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