Tolerance: a term deployed by liberals when trying to promote acceptance of those whose politics, cultural norms, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from the majority of Britons; a term not applicable to evangelical Christians, defence of marriage supporters, right to lifers, and generally anyone who disagrees with the political establishment and media elite.

Tolerance once meant you were willing to abide behaviours in others which you found objectionable. Then it came to mean not judging such behaviours at all. Then it moved on to respecting them. Now, it has come to mean celebrating them, often at the cost of what was once held to be central. If you refuse to celebrate that which you think is unhealthy or wrong then the proponents of toleration will do their level best to stifle your previously free expression of opinion.

One favourite tactic which social, political and religious liberals often use in order to suppress debate is to label opponents mentally unstable. If you are opposed to homosexual marriage you are labelled ‘homophobic’ or suffering from a psychological malady the symptoms of which are an unreasoning fear of homosexuals. If you speak out against the increasing influence of radical Islam amongst Muslims in the West you are labelled ‘Islamophobic,’ another psychological malady. The list is endless.

This tactic has it’s own perverted logic borrowed from the old USSR. There dissidents were routinely confined to mental institutions. After all, if you objected to the way the USSR was run you were obviously deranged, wasn’t it a paradise upon earth. In the West today if your opponent has a ‘phobia’ then there is no need to listen to them or consider their opinions. A very effective way of shutting off open debate and enforcing one limited viewpoint.

There is a simple response to accusations of Islamophobia or any other ‘phobia’ from the liberally intolerant. Simply ask: Who has an unreasoning fear of radical Islam, the person who speaks out openly concerning its dangers, or the person who is afraid to acknowledge those dangers? Who is afraid of radical Islam, the elderly Danish cartoonist who mocked Muhammad, or the Yale University Press which last year refused to publish the cartoons in a scholarly tome by professor Jytte Klausen devoted to the incident?


3 thoughts on “Toleration

  1. Dear Campbell,

    Thank you for posting your interesting blog. I agree that enforced conformity is a frightening concept, although to counter that, perhaps some common ways of thinking/behaving are necessary for us to function as a society?

    I have noticed that there are many factions within the church who are strong advocates of enforced conformity – indeed, it is hard to escape the thought that this is precisely how many religions “spread the word” so effectively.

    I therefore wonder if concerns over predominant orthodoxy in society amount to no more than a “turf war” over prevailing points of view.

    I do not personally believe that enforced conformity is necessary for a church to function, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

  2. I believe that any struggle over predominant orthodoxy is more than a ‘turf war’ in society. How we think shapes how we act, how we act shapes our relationships with each other and our relationships are what constitutes society. Whether our society is shaped by Derrida, Kant or Calvin has profound impact.

    Like you I believe that enforced conformity is not necessary for a church to function. In our Scottish experience the more rigidly enforced the conformity the greater the likelihood of the creation of ever narrower and ever smaller groups each claiming to be the only church which represents the true faith.

    Theology itself only develops in the midst of free, and often messy, discussion. The difficult thing is to decide when the intellectual discussion becomes pastorally dangerous. This itself is a matter for discussion and probably comes down to a personal view. For instance I believe that to differ regarding the continuation of biblical miracles today is not enough to cause real division, to differ regarding the deity of Christ is as it affects salvation. I would be interested in knowing what others think.

    In the Church of Scotland ministers have to swear we uphold the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith with ‘liberty of conscience’ in matters not concerning the fundamentals of the faith. A good solution, except that we have never got round to, and are afraid of, defining what constitute those fundamentals.

  3. Wasn’t sure which bit you were interested in getting the opinions of others for, so I’ll give two answers.

    The particular:

    The two points you used to illustrate which doctrines are enough to cause division or not seem, to me, to be almost placed in the opposite category to which I’d expect to see them in the context of this discussion.

    While the view that Christ is God is truthful, I can’t see how differing on it would make any practical difference. The one who believes Christ revealed God will act no differently whether they believe it was by being God or by God’s revelation of himself perfectly through the man Christ. Either way their trust is in the revelation of God through Christ. The belief either way will not change the way people relate to each other (although after re-reading this I can see how it may have ramifications for corporate worship of Christ along side the Father).

    But the one who believes miracles are discontinued is going to act very differently to one who believes in a continuation. That belief will also impact in fairly strong ways on the relationship between the continuation brethren and the discontinuation brethren. Certain behaviours such as prophecy or tongues could be seen as dishonest by those who hold to discontinuation, and therefore be enough for real practical division.

    Enough of the particular, on to the general:

    Providing the freedom and space to relate to God from within our understanding of Him, informed by but not subsumed by the understanding of others, is , in my opinion, one of the functions of the church. Without this freedom the church is dysfunctional. Enforced conformity is not only not necessary, it is contrary to the function of the church.

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