Quotes about Tolerance


"Tolerance" gives me room to say, "I think you’re wrong, but I’ll defend your right to be wrong."  "Pluralism" suggests, much more strongly than most folks admit, that there isn’t such thing as right and wrong – and no such thing as truth and error.  As it is practiced more and more in America, pluralism tends to require that you not only leave room for your neighbor to believe what he believes, but that you also refrain from disagreeing with it.  There’s a world of difference between the two perspectives.  Tolerance promotes civility combined with clear thinking.  Pluralism promotes civility combined with mushy-headedness.


There is a form of “tolerance” that is highly commendable and even self-sacrificial; there is another form of “tolerance” that is merely an excuse for moral apathy or even gross wickedness – and in such cases it is no virtue.


In our postmodern times, “tolerance” is valued over truth, and truth, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder and as such must be extended to everyone, except those disagreeable and critical exponents of truth who hold to absolutes, or, to put it into theological language, those who seek to maintain historical orthodoxy. Tragically, many professing evangelicals are embracing in celebratory fashion a distinctively non-doctrinal mentality when it comes to defining their faith… Christians who end up buying into this idea fail to recognize that by doing so they are violating the apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world.” Despite the fact that this kind of neutralism accents diversity, it does so in name only. Conformity is actually what drives it.


Tolerance toward people is a good and biblical virtue, but tolerance toward false teaching is sin.


If you let culture make tolerance the preeminent virtue, pretty soon you won’t have anything else.


Christian civility does not commit us to a relativistic perspective. Being civil doesn’t mean that we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility doesn’t require us to approve of what other people believe and do. It is one thing to insist that other people have the right to express their basic convictions; it is another thing to say that they are right in doing so. Civility requires us to live by the first of these principles. But it does not commit us to the second formula. To say that all beliefs and values deserve to be treated as if they were on a par is to endorse relativism – a perspective that is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Christian civility does not mean refusing to make judgments about what is good and true. For one thing, it really isn’t possible to be completely nonjudgmental. Even telling someone else that she is being judgmental is a rather judgmental thing to do (Richard Mouw)!


In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die (Dorothy Sayers).



So what is the real reason that militant homosexuals are demanding the right to marry? It is to force society to accept their lifestyle as is. Not only to accept it, but to embrace it. If you think that is an exaggeration, then consider the intolerance you will experience if you dare oppose their agenda, at the hands of those who shout the loudest for tolerance (James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe).


Have you ever noticed that those who shout the loudest for tolerance are the most intolerant people in the world if you disagree with them (James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe)?


[Tolerance is] the last virtue of an immoral society (James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe).


It’s unpopular to take a strong stand on anything (these days) except tolerance.


Tolerance implies disagreement. I have to disagree with you in order to tolerate you.


Toleration of people requires that we treat one another with equal value, honoring each other’s fundamental human freedom to express private faith in public forums. On the other hand, toleration of beliefs does not require that we accept every idea as equally valid, as if a belief is true, right, or good simply because someone expresses it. In this way, tolerance of a person’s value does not mean I must accept that person’s views.


I can tolerate my atheist neighbor by being charitable and friendly toward him, respecting him as a person, and seeking to understand his views honestly rather than some caricature of his ideas. But there is a distinct difference between toleration and affirmation. We have embraced affirmation and not toleration if toleration means that I cannot tell my atheist friend that he is mistaken regarding God’s existence.


Were our culture to practice toleration authentically, they would not attempt to silence [Christians] even if they could not embrace our position. It is clear therefore that the so-called “tolerance” our society embraces is actually the most insidious form of intolerance.


Western culture at large freely “tolerates” any worldview as long as that worldview does not claim that other views are false. The only exclusive claim one can make is that no one can make an exclusive claim.


Although Christians cannot cherish religious pluralism, they must tolerate it… By tolerance I mean allowing other people to hold and to defend their own religious convictions. Tolerance does not mean that everyone has to agree with everyone else. That would not be tolerance at all. The word tolerance itself assumes disagreement, that there is something that must be tolerated. Tolerance thus applies to persons, but not to their errors. It does not require me to endorse your worldview. If you are not a Christian, I do not endorse your worldview. In the context of a friendship I will even try to talk you out of it… Yet it carries out these arguments with humility and civility.


“Adopt[ing] “no other view” (Galatians 5:10) is an interesting phrase. Ever watch “The View?” It mirrors modern America. And as that show testifies, there is no such thing as “the view” because in modern America there are no absolutes. It should be called “The Views” or “Many Views!” Everybody is entitled to their opinion and all options are to be cherished, except the opinion that you are right and another is wrong. It is the age of tolerating everyone’s viewpoint (better said needing to accept everyone’s viewpoint), providing that viewpoint is not biblical teaching. According to the world, that view is not to be tolerated! But Paul in Galatians 5:10 says just the opposite! He promotes the biblical view and calls us to “adopt no other view.”


Tolerance is not a spiritual gift; it is the distinguishing mark of postmodernism; and sadly, it has permeated the very fiber of Christianity. Why is it that those who have no biblical convictions or theology to govern and direct their actions are tolerated and the standard or truth of God’s Word rightly divided and applied is dismissed as extreme opinion or legalism?


As a result of the loss of “true truth,” the defining value of our culture has become tolerance. If there is no truth, then everything should be tolerated.


The [world] redefine[s] tolerance to mean not only respect and forbearance with regard to disagreement, but approval and acceptance of others’ moral and religious beliefs.


The fact is, no one is tolerant of everything. Tolerance itself is a neutral word. It is what one is tolerant of that makes it good or bad. Even those who cry the loudest for tolerance claim to have “zero tolerance” for sexual child abuse, rape, and racial discrimination – and so they should. Despite their assertion that they are moral relativists, they do have moral absolutes, and they are prepared to fight for them. They are more than willing to take strong disciplinary action in the workplace and in government agencies against those who violate those moral absolutes. Ironically, the so-called tolerance of secular relativism is quite intolerant of those who disagree with its philosophy of truth and ideological commitments. Numerous books and articles, from both secular and religious perspectives, have exposed the arrogance and hypocrisy of the relativist’s tolerance.


This new tolerance sees the specks of intolerance in the eyes of others, but can’t see its own logs of intolerance, dogmatism, pride, absolutism, discrimination, authoritarianism, and lack of love.


A new Decalogue has been adopted by some of our day, the first words of which reads, “Thou shalt not disagree,” and a new set of Beatitudes too, which begins, “Blessed are they that tolerate everything, for they shall not be made accountable for anything.” It is now the accepted thing to talk over religious differences in public with the understanding that no one will try to convert another or point out errors in his belief. Imagine Moses agreeing to take part in a panel discussion with Israel over the golden calf; or Elijah engaging in a gentlemanly dialogue with the prophets of Baal. Or try to picture Jesus seeking a meeting of minds with the Pharisees to iron out differences. The blessing of God is promised to the peacemaker, but the religious negotiator had better watch his step. Darkness and light can never be brought together by talk. Some things are not negotiable. 

Recommended Books

The Intolerance of Tolerance

D.A. Carson