Tolerance or Intolerance?

Greg Strand – December 14, 2015 Leave a comment

In light of the way in which tolerance and intolerance are understood today, and in light of how any perceived notion of intolerance, as understood and defined by the one, is responded to today, it is good to be reminded of what each term means, not just in definition, but also in practice.

In an editorial from a few years ago in Themelios, D. A. Carson clears up the fog: “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Tolerance used to be understood to be the stance which, while disagreeing with another’s views, guarded the right of those views to be heard. The new tolerance insists that disagreeing with another’s views, saying they are wrong, is intrinsically intolerant. But frankly, that notion of intolerance is incoherent. The Labour Party doesn’t agree with the Conservatives; Marxists don’t agree with Capitalists; Muslims don’t agree with Christians. Each pair may acknowledge some commonalities, but on many fronts, they differ. Yet each tolerates the other if each insists that the other has equal right to speak and convince others of their position. Intolerance is introduced, not when one says another party is wrong, but only when the views of others are quelled by force or corruption.

According to this understanding, in today’s culture many of those claiming to be tolerant are some of the most intolerant.

A few questions:

  • How do you understand tolerance and intolerance?
  • How does that affect your life and response to others?
  • How does the love of Christ control and guide your thoughts and behavior?

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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