Tolerance was huge virtue for our society until it got redefined. Now it’s actually hurting us.
In previous eras, tolerance meant that every person had an equal right to his or her beliefs. But now tolerance means that every person’s beliefs are equally right. The difference may seem subtle, but it’s actually seismic.
The new view of tolerance has produced a new understanding of intolerance. It used to be the case that you were considered intolerant if you didn’t value people with different beliefs. Now you are considered intolerant if you don’t validate the beliefs of different people.
The problem with the new understanding of tolerance is that it doesn’t work logically or psychologically. We instinctively know that two opposing viewpoints cannot be equally true. For example, if you believe there is only one God, you can’t logically endorse the view that there are many gods. While you can value the people who disagree with you (the historic view of tolerance), you can’t authentically validate their viewpoint (the current view of tolerance).
Every faith has beliefs that it holds as absolutely true. Christians are convinced that Jesus is the perfect revelation of God in human form (Colossians 2:9). We’re convinced His death on the cross paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). We affirm that all who turn to him in simple, sincere faith receive fullness of life now (John 10:10) and everlasting life in heaven (John 3:16).
So how are Christians to relate to those with different beliefs? We are to follow Jesus’ command to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:8). Though we can’t validate every belief, we can value every person. We can seek to treat people the way Jesus did. In the end, love is a higher virtue than tolerance.
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