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“Tolerance” is a doctrine. In theology or education or everyday life, “doctrine” is ever present. Everyone has doctrine since everyone has beliefs. We subscribe to a teaching, dogma, or creed to explain what we believe. Our commitment to that set of teachings limits our acceptance of contrary or adversarial claims. It does not matter if you are a feminist, committed to LGBTQ+, a Baptist preacher, or a conservative talk show host; you have doctrine. Everyone everywhere has doctrine. But in our current cultural moment, identity, ethnic, sexual, and gender politics demand our belief in the doctrine of tolerance.
I will use the metaphors of religious ideas and icons to communicate the cultural doctrine of “tolerance.” First, toleration demands “understanding,” then “acceptance,” then “allegiance,” then “obeisance,” then “conformity,” and ultimately “evangelism.” The ordered steps down the cathedral aisle do not matter as much as the baptismal outcome. Hollywood’s hymnal sings both obvious and subtle references to accepted and rejected points of view. Celebrities must bow before the altar of imposed speech codes. News outlets preach from their pulpits against the latest outrage. The plight of those suffering worldwide is reported only if their deaths reinforce the common book of party prayer. Catechismal teaching reinforces the moment-by-moment commitment to membership in the church of toleration. Excommunication is swift for any who would sin against accepted authority. Reputational ruin comes to anyone daring to cross the received cultural commandments. Toleration’s heaven accepts the culturally righteous who are the tolerant saints wearing white robes of social purity. Toleration’s hell awaits anyone who has rejected salvation offered by the cultural gods of the day.
Let me be perfectly clear. I am tolerant, kind, generous, respectful, and gracious to people, no matter who they are or what they believe. But I will always speak out against ideas — the doctrine of tolerance included — that stand against the doctrines of God’s word.Published in