If you are not familiar with D. A. Carson, you should be

D. A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  He has written over 50 books and is perhaps the finest New Testament scholar around.  If you are not familiar with his work, you should be, especially if you are serious about studying the New Testament.  You can find more information about Carson and his writings in his profile on Trinity’s website.

I received an academic catalog today that lists a new book from Carson that I am eager to read.  It is entitled The Intolerance of Tolerance.  The description of the book reads as follows:

“It’s a hot-button topic, but what does “tolerance” really mean?  Carson believes the definition has become more about refusing to say others are wrong – which is impossible to deploy consistently.  With anecdotes, quotes, and practical advice, he describes how to exemplify and promote the virtue of civil discourse while embracing the true meaning of tolerance.”

So, what is the true definition of “tolerance”?  Are we intolerant if we believe others are wrong?  What is the proper way to discourse over areas of disagreement?  I have not read the book to discover Carson’s views, but I wonder what you think.  Send me a comment.

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7 Responses to If you are not familiar with D. A. Carson, you should be

  1. Davo says:

    Good question. I think that one can be tolerant of someone else while still disagreeing with them.

    However, I think that tolerance must go hand in hand with humility. Tolerance does not permit one elevates oneself over others because of their beliefs, system of morality, skin color, nationality, education, socioeconomic status, etc.

    In the case of intellectual intolerance, one may be tolerant and still disagree with someone. However, when one refuses to admit the possibility of being wrong, they are acting with intolerance.

    Perhaps it doesn’t belong in a definition of tolerance, but another frequent indicator of intolerance is the commission of active or passive violence.

  2. Derek says:

    Hey good post.

    Did you know about Carson’s new book, Scandalous?

    I’m going to be giving away a copy of this book, Scandalous by D.A. Carson, along with N.T. Wrights new book, After You Believe, and Brian McLaren’s new book A New Kind of Christianity, on my site:

    If you are interested

  3. Tim Farley says:


    I mostly agree with you, however when you wrote “when one refuses to admit the possibility of being wrong, they are acting with intolerance”, I have to disagree. If someone tells me they believe 2+2=5, I do not feel a need to admit that I may be wrong. I am sure 2+2=4. However, in being tolerant, I believe that someone can hold the belief that 2+2=5 if they want to do so, even if I am positive they are wrong. I also believe that tolerance calls for us to allow others to hold their beliefs without being forced to subscribe to ours. I do not think it is wrong to debate disagreements or try to convince others why our view is correct.

  4. Davo says:

    Perhaps my definition still works. In the example you cited, I wouldn’t say you are being intolerant. I’d say you’re just making a strong argument. If our mathematically challenged hypothetical person insists that they are right, in spite of the evidence you present, without presenting any substantial evidence to support their opinion, I would say they are the one being intolerant.

    Maybe we could expand the definition to include some form of action connected to one’s beliefs. For example, if one refuses to engage in discussion about their beliefs, their actions are intolerant. If someone oppresses others fore holding different beliefs, their actions are intolerant.

    So intolerance consists of 1) a refusal to admit the possibility of being wrong, and 2) actions which reinforce one’s beliefs without consideration of the implications on oneself or others.

  5. beckyb26 says:

    I just found this blog kind of by accident and found it very intriguing. I am not a practicing Christian, but enjoy talking to others about what they believe and see what others have to say.

    I am usually not very tolerant of conservative Christians, I have to admit, because it’s been my experience that they are not tolerant of my beliefs. I am not asking anyone to stop believing what they believe, I am only asking that people have an open mind and think critically rather than just thinking what they’re told to think.

    I’m not coming here to preach anything against Christians, just maybe hoping to offer another viewpoint. 🙂

  6. Tim Farley says:


    Thanks for stopping by this blog. While I am obviously a Christian and give my perspective from an acknowledged “conservative Christian” viewpoint, it is my hope that I respect the views of others even while we may disagree. I think if you read through the discussions that have taken palce on this site, you will see that there is a great deal of critical thinking about the topics discussed and that I expect those who comment to do so in a respectful manner. It is okay to disagree and to state your case. It is not okay to engage in personal attacks.

    I hope you enjoy the blog and will offer your perspective from time to time.


  7. It’s a great read that I am about 4/5ths of the way done reading. Its Dr. Carson at his best. Will worth adding to one’s reading list for the year. Great blog keep up the good work God bless!!

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