J. Warner Wallace

Author, Cold-Case Christianity

Is Christianity Intolerant?

~~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.

NEXT: Help People See How The Definition of Tolerance Has Been Corrupted
Websters-Online-Dictionary.com begins to hint at the subtle shift in definition when it describes 'tolerance' as "a disposition to allow freedom of choice and behavior." In its 'Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance', the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines 'tolerance' as "respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human."

Notice the shift? The concept (and the actual word) 'acceptance' has been added to the definition in a way that subtly transforms the classic definition. This view promotes not that we must 'endure' each other in the context of our disagreements, but that we must 'accept' and embrace each other's worldview as equally valuable and equally true. This current definition of 'tolerance' could be stated in the following way:

Tolerance: "The act of recognizing and accepting the equal validity and value of all views, beliefs and actions."

FINALLY: Help People See the Self-Defeating Nature of the New Definition
This new definition of 'tolerance' cannot live up to its own standard. What if I hold (and practice) the belief that 'all views, beliefs and actions are NOT equally valid and valuable'? Could the new, corrupted definition of 'tolerance' tolerate my position? No, clearly my position would be the one position that would have to be abolished in order for the new, corrupted definition of 'tolerance' to be true. But rejecting my view entirely would simultaneously reject the new definition itself. You see, this corrupted view of tolerance simply cannot stand up under the weight of its own standard. The world presently embraces a view of 'tolerance' that is illogical, unsustainable and self-refuting.

It's our job to help people think clearly about the issue of tolerance, even as we continue to love and tolerate their opposing views (I mean that in the 'classic' sense of tolerance!)

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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About J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, Christian case maker and author. J. Warner was a conscientious and vocal atheist through his undergraduate and graduate work in Design and Architecture (CSULB and UCLA); he always considered himself to be an “evidentialist”. His experience in law enforcement only served to strengthen his conviction that truth is tied directly to evidence. But at the age of thirty-five, J. Warner took a serious and expansive look at the evidence for the Christian Worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true. After becoming a Christ follower in 1996, Jim continued to take an evidential approach to truth as he examined the Christian worldview. He eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J. Warner served as a Youth Pastor for several years, then planted a church in 2006. Along the way, he created and built the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog and podcast as a place to post and talk about what he discovered related to the evidence supporting Christianity. Jim has appeared on television and radio, explaining the role that evidence plays in the Christian definition of “faith” and defending the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian worldview. Jim also speaks at churches, retreats and camps as he seeks to help people become confident Christian case makers. J. Warner’s first book, Cold-Case Christianity, provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts. In his second book, God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence. J. Warner’s professional investigative work has received national recognition; his cases have been featured more than any other detective on NBC’s Dateline, and his work has also appeared on CourtTV and Fox News. He also appears on television as an investigative consultant and had a role in God’s Not Dead 2, making the case for the historicity of Jesus. J. Warner was awarded the Police and Fire Medal of Valor “Sustained Superiority” Award for his continuing work on cold-case homicides. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, J. Warner provides his readers and audiences with the tools they will need to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview. You can follow J. Warner Wallace on Twitter @JWarnerWallace

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