The Truth about Tolerance

by Brad Stetson and Joseph Conti,
Intervarsity Press, ISBN 0-8308-2787-0, ©2005.

One of the challenges that is always present at our lectureships is the accusation that by claiming Christianity is the one true religion and that the Bible is the Word of the one God, we are being intolerant. The two authors of this book both hold PhDs in social ethics from the University of Southern California and are professors at universities in California.

The book begins by discussing the meaning and history of tolerance. The authors give examples of intolerance and its violent results in India, Africa, Mesoamerica (frequently cited by New Agers), and Islam showing that intolerance was a problem long before the western world became the target of charges of intolerance. Tolerance and teachings about it are also explored in Judaism, Socrates, Aristotle, and Stoicism. Christianity and its teachings about tolerance, and the history of toleration in Europe are discussed. There is then a discussion about the nature of truth and how truth and tolerance interact. Chapter seven is an excellent discussion of American secularism and how it has in reality promoted intolerance. This is done while claiming tolerance does not exist in religion. This is followed by an interesting discussion of how intolerance has been a factor promoted by secularism in the media, in American colleges and universities with Christianity being the main target of this intolerance. This is a documented section with useful cases where persecution by the ACLU and the media are shown.

The authors give ten truths of tolerance and turn the reader from what is now the dogma of tolerance in the United States and the world today, to a logical view of what tolerance really is about. This is well presented and is quite clear. There is an epilogue written for Christians by Stetson that connects tolerance with witnessing which may be useful to personal workers and ministers. This is a useful and needed book. If you are trying to reach people in our postmodern and pluralistic world, you will run into people who try to use the tolerance argument to defeat any discussion of morality or Christian values. This book will be most helpful in that area of challenge.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, JanFeb06.