Is The New “Tolerance” Healthy?

Posted: July 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

I look forward to D.A. Carson’s forthcoming book, “The Intolerance of Tolerance.”  Dr. Carson makes the point in his lectures that form the basis for the book that tolerance was once defined as, “I disagree with you and you disagree with me but I will defend your right to believe as you wish.”  Not anymore!  Tolerance is now defined as holding a critical opinion of certain viewpoints or lifestyles. 

The argument for the new “tolerance” is that any critical opinion of “progressive” worldviews create a culture of hostility and offend adherents to the alternative viewpoint. 

Dr. Henry Cloud argues in his book Changes That Heal (Zondervan, 1990) that blaming another for one’s own feelings is unhealthy because we cede the responsibility for our feelings to someone else.  For example, if someone says something denigrating about Christianity and I become angry then I have given control to that other person.  In order to take responsibility for my own feelings, I need to question the reasons for my feelings.  “Am I upset because what they have said is true? I don’t believe it is, so why am I upset?” A mature, differentiated approach does not cede so much control to others that they are able to define my feelings at any given moment.

Yet, those who promote the new “tolerance” clearly feel that others are responsible for their feelings.  They obviously feel they need to be validated even if be by coerced affirmation or forced silence.  According to Dr. Cloud, this is simply unhealthy. 

Furthermore, from a public policy perspective, it is painfully obvious to me that the founding fathers understood that we have no right NOT to be offended (I’ll unpack this later) because they understood better than we are responsible for our own feelings, not others.   

More later.


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