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The Intolerance of Tolerance

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  388 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Tolerance currently occupies a very high place in Western societies: it is considered gauche, even boorish, to question it. In The Intolerance of Tolerance, however, questioning tolerance -- or, at least, contemporary understandings of tolerance -- is exactly what D. A . Carson does.

Carson traces the subtle but enormous shift in the way we have come to understand tolerance
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Eerdmans (first published November 1st 2009)
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Mike Hyatt
Jan 22, 2013 Mike Hyatt rated it really liked it
It was good.

Everyone loves the movie "The Princess Bride" or at least they should love it. One of the better known lines in that move is by Inigo Montoya. He says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Is it possible that a society would keep using the word "tolerance" without it meaning what they think it means? Inconceivable you say! Well think again. D.A. Carson has written on the "Intolerance of Tolerance" where he argues as much.

The main point of the
Oct 01, 2012 J rated it liked it
I enjoy Carson's exegetical work and am a fan of the series he edits, especially NSBT. But there is less to like about his ventures into cultural criticism, which showcase to a less than desirable degree his 'Gospel Coalition' pedigree. Like The Gagging of God, this book comes off a bit paranoid (for instance in his Huntingtonian 'clash of civilizations' rhetoric about Islam), a bit culture war-ish, and a bit reductionist (what is 'postmodernism'? Carson writes confidently like it's a thing). ...more
Jun 01, 2012 Lois rated it liked it
This was the kind of book I had to mull over every few pages. It isn't a long book, but it is thought-provoking. D.A. Carson writes about the changes in meaning of the word tolerance from the "old" definition to the "new." He confirmed what many of us think, that today's tolerance is a one-way street. People can have different opinions that used to generate discussion in the public arena. Now, people are expected to embrace everyone's opinion, unless of course, the opinion belongs to that of a ...more
It seems we are at the point in our culture if one disagrees with another on any issue, that person is intolerant, a hater, a bigot, a right wing extremist and I am sure the list will go on. The first thing DA Carson does in this helpful book for Christians who want to pursue truth, is define tolerance. We are now living in a new tolerance. Heaven forbid if we think someone else is wrong. However, WE all need to examine the issues, the implications and the future rights. It seems to me that ...more
Brian Watson
Dec 31, 2013 Brian Watson rated it it was amazing
This is an important book. Carson shows the two definitions of tolerance. The historical one says something like this: Truth exists regarding subject X. We may disagree about the truth of subject X. I will try to persuade you that you are wrong and you will try to persuade me that I am wrong. But we both agree not to use force or manipulation.

The second and current definition of tolerance says the only thing that is intolerant is an absolute truth claim. Of course, this is self-refuting, since i
Apr 03, 2012 Bob rated it liked it
I liked the book but there is nothing new here. If you have read books dealing with post modernism, relativism, the downside of political correctness then this will be a review. However Carson does an excellent job defining old tolerance and contrasting it with the new tolerance, which he defines for us as well. He explains how the new tolerance calls for the acceptance of another's position believing that the position to be true or at least as true as your own position. This is a shift from ...more
Eric Miller
Feb 25, 2014 Eric Miller rated it it was ok
Carson lends a scholarly ethos to a complaint that conservative Christians have been making for a long time. But his is a pretty weak and almost entirely anecdotal argument. It may describe a sort of awkward transition period in which institutions try to make the shift from Christian hegemony to pluralism, but there is simply no sinister "new tolerance" at work here. The suggestion that universities and secular intellectuals assign equal truth value to all claims is simply divorced from reality. ...more
Tim Woody
Jun 24, 2012 Tim Woody rated it really liked it
D.A. Carson in usual style provides a clear and enjoyable analysis of the Tolerance of our age showing how it really is intolerance. This book will take you on a eye opening walk through the history of how we lost true tolerance. My only critique is that D.A Carson's Historical Pri-mil and political theology leaves a distinctly defeatist taste in some sections. But that inst as much a criticism as it is a preference. Either way anyone would benefit from this short look at tolerance in the ...more
Apr 08, 2015 Mike rated it it was amazing
Carson is very good at getting to the crux of the matter in regard to the 'new' tolerance, as he calls it, a tolerance that's in fact far less tolerant of anything it disagrees with than it claims.
Well worth reading for understanding the climate we're in currently, where Christians in particular are being targeted as intolerant by those who won't brook any other viewpoint but their own.
Jun 15, 2013 David rated it really liked it
This book would be much better if Dr. Carson didn't quote so much from another book he wrote. Other than that foible, a solid book that explains what true tolerance is and how false tolerance seems to rule the day.
Dave Jenkins
Dec 10, 2012 Dave Jenkins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics
The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson is a masterful exploration into one of the greatest cultural issues of our day--- tolerance by one of the greatest Christian minds of our day. In post-modernism, tolerance—the affirming and celebrating of virtually any exercise of personal autonomy- is the prime value. The unforgiveable sin is being judgmental, that is, believing that an activity or lifestyle choice that does not hurt another person is wrong, immoral or sinful. A second related ...more
Brian Collins
Mar 14, 2012 Brian Collins rated it really liked it
What explains a bank's unwillingness to retain the bank account of a Christian organization that adheres to traditional Christian views on human sexuality? How do universities justify requiring Christian student organizations to admit officers who hold views contrary to Christian doctrine and practice? Why are doctors in some regions required to perform abortions and pharmacists required to carry and distribute abortion inducing drugs—despite their conscientious objections?

In The Intolerance of
Rodney Harvill
In this book, Dr. Carson discusses two different definitions of "tolerance" and the implications of their differences. The first definition is the traditional view, the acceptance of the existence of other points of view and the right of people to hold and practice these different beliefs. The second definition, an offshoot of postmodern thinking and representative of more recent cultural values, demands the acceptance of different views; in other words, somebody else's position, no matter how ...more
Kyle Hood
Oct 03, 2016 Kyle Hood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book that shows how the new definition of tolerance does nothing but foster hatred and intolerance. If you should ever find yourself questioning why everything is now "intolerant" I would encourage you to read this. Heck, you should read it anyway. D.A. Carson does a great job explaining how tolerance became what it is today. He also does a great job of explaining why this new tolerance is so adverse to Christianity. 100% recommend!
Brian The Furnace Man
Apr 21, 2014 Brian The Furnace Man rated it really liked it
When I saw this book on the shelf the first words out of my mouth were. “Wow this sounds deep.” And it was. Usually it takes me a chapter or two to get into the mind of the author. It wasn't until the second reading that I really felt a connection.

The author discusses a shift in the way we understand the meaning of tolerance. He begins with reviewing multiple definitions from various dictionaries. He explains how the verb usage of “to tolerate” has become obsolete. This leaves the noun “toleranc
Apr 09, 2013 Jkanz rated it it was amazing
I have read a few of DA Carson's books and this may be my favorite. In 2012, he published The Intolerance of Tolerance, which is an extended reflection on the modern notion of tolerance. In our postmodern culture where everything goes, it seems that tolerance is the queen mother of all virtues. Forget love. forget truth. Tolerance represents the pinnacle of our aspirations. Carson sets out to refute these modern notions.

Importantly, Carson sets out early on to differentiate between the old defin
Dottie Parish
D.A. Carson does a beautiful job of critiquing our current culture’s politically correct agenda that insists on a tolerance that is really intolerant. He defines the old tolerance and the new tolerance. He notes that the old tolerance is still defined on Encarta in a search for the verb “to tolerate” it includes “ACCEPT EXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS to recognize other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them…. When we turn to Encarta’s treatment of ...more
Kevin Slemp
Sep 22, 2016 Kevin Slemp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very insightful analysis of the recent cultural shifts in American society.
Robert Castillo
Feb 17, 2012 Robert Castillo rated it really liked it
I have always been a reader of almost anything D. A. Carson writes and his newest book “The Intolerance of Tolerance” does not disappoint in the least. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity who is the author or coauthor of over 45 books including the Gold Medallion Award-winning book “The Gagging of God”.

Right off the bat Carson spends time contrasting the “old tolerance” and “new tolerance.” He explains how the new tolerance calls for the acceptance of an
Ben Aurich
Sep 19, 2016 Ben Aurich rated it liked it
A much needed clarification over the bait-and-switch that has taken place in recent years, regarding this notion of "tolerance."
Chris Wray
May 23, 2016 Chris Wray rated it it was amazing
A must read that unpacks the shifting understanding of tolerance, particularly in the West. Carson’s main thesis is that we have moved from tolerance being the acceptance that other viewpoints have the right to exist, even while opposing them, to accepting that all viewpoints are equally valid. Under this new definition of tolerance, to say that someone else is wrong and that our view is objectively true is intolerant and places us outside what is acceptable in society. Increasingly, we see that ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
As D. A. Carson points out in The Intolerance of Tolerance, the kind of tolerance now so greatly esteemed in public life can actually be quite intolerant.

Carson helps unravel this apparent paradox by careful defining what is generally meant by “tolerance” and “intolerance.” In doing so, he draws a helpful line between “old” and “new” definitions of tolerance and intolerance.

“Old tolerance” can be pretty adequately expressed by that oft-quoted line (often wrongly attributed to Voltaire): “I disap
Jun 02, 2016 Drake rated it it was amazing
The Intolerance of Tolerance is a comprehensive and powerful critique of our culture's definition and enforcement of "tolerance," showing that modern society's concept of tolerance is really a devastating form of intolerance against those who refuse to accept the modern definition of "tolerance" (i.e., that all systems of thought are equally valid). Carson's analysis leads him to explore topics like the separation of church and state, the role and nature of a true democracy, the fundamental ...more
Anthony Parrott
Jul 28, 2015 Anthony Parrott rated it did not like it
This book failed to convince of me of, well, basically anything. Carson's definition of tolerance, intolerance, and so-called "new tolerance" changed throughout the book and is dramatically inconsistent. It seemed obvious that he was just not cognizant of recent philosophical literature on postmodernism and relativism. I was unable to identify a valid argument or thesis. Carson's book makes little to no effort to convince people who may disagree with him. It was written towards those who already ...more
Dec 31, 2015 John rated it it was amazing
A super relevant . important book!

Carson gives a history of how the definition of tolerance has changed from "accepting the existence of different views" to the "acceptance of different views." Its a small difference with huge implications which are flushed out in the book. He argues how this new version of tolerance has become part of the plausibility structure of Western society where it is regarded as a supreme virtue holding claims to a moral high ground.

He describes how the new version of
May 14, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
This title is the best I have read so far this year. Carson distinguishes between two kinds of tolerance. The first is the older tolerance, one in which different views, convictions and beliefs are all held as being true, even contradictory, but are tolerated by one another. This tolerance is one that is healthy for Christianity and for other religions and worldviews. The second is a new tolerance, one in which differing views, convictions and beliefs are increasingly not expressed for fear of ...more
Jan 15, 2013 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book I've read this year. A must read for any thoughtful believer in absolute truth, and anyone concerned with the direction the United States is heading. Carson draws a comparison between what he calls the "old tolerance", and the "new tolerance". Old tolerance being what enabled people to disagree with one another, call error what it is, and yet remain civil to one another. The new tolerance calls anyone who is willing to disagree or point out error as intolerant, which is ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it
This is a very relevant and timely book, and I've found it coming up in a lot of different conversations. Most helpful is the distinction he makes between the old tolerance- accepting that different beliefs and ideas exist and discussing them vs. the new tolerance which doesn't allow any room for suggesting an idea or belief is wrong. In fact, that has become the cardinal sin in our culture. The irony which he repeatedly points out and is suggested by the title is that, in condemning anyone who ...more
Luke Markham
Nov 19, 2013 Luke Markham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a treatment on tolerance and how it has changed for the worse from an evangelical Christian perspective.

It is brilliant; I read this almost entirely during my lunch break and despite often having a fried head from work, this book remained completely immersing and gripping.

The discussion of the history of tolerance was fascinating and served as an excellent example of good research and scholarly reading. The section about the semantic changes was enlightening, thought-provoking and e
Feb 16, 2015 E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly, the title says it all. Tolerance used to mean, "I'll support your right to hold X belief, even if I think it's wrong and will dialogue with you to that effect." Tolerance now means, "We must accept all views and make no truth claims about any of them. Oh, and if you disagree with this definition, we will not tolerate you." Yes, the irony is rich, but the modern world has demonstrated again and again that it just doesn't get it. What's scary is that we are trying to build a society on this ...more
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D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in ...more
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“contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West's plausibility structure.” 0 likes
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