Whenever you’re charged with intolerance, always ask for a definition. If tolerance means neutrality, then no one is ever tolerant because no one is ever neutral about his own opinions. This kind of tolerance is a myth.
In today’s relativistic, postmodern world, one word can stop an ambassador for Christ in his tracks: “tolerance.” No judgments allowed. No “forcing” personal opinions. All views are equally valid.
Once, in a discussion with a class of Christian high school seniors, I wrote two sentences on the board. The first—“All views are equally valid”—expressed the current understanding of tolerance. All heads nodded. Nothing controversial here.
Then I wrote the second sentence: “Jesus is the Messiah, and Jews are wrong for rejecting him.” Immediately, hands flew up. “You can’t say that,” an annoyed student challenged. “That’s intolerant,” she said, noting that the second statement violated the first. What she didn’t see was that the first statement also violated itself.
I pointed to the first statement and asked, “Is this a view, the idea that all views have equal merit?” The students all agreed. Then I pointed to the second statement—the “intolerant” one—and asked the same question: “Is this a view?” Slowly, my point began to dawn on them. They’d been taken in by the tolerance trick.
If all views are equally valid, then the view that Christians are right about Jesus and Jews are wrong is just as valid as the idea that Jews are right and Christians are wrong. But this is hopelessly contradictory. They can’t both be true.
“Would you like to know how to escape this trap?” They nodded. Reject the postmodern distortion of tolerance, I told them, and return to the classical view characterized by two principles I learned from Peter Kreeft of Boston College:
Be egalitarian regarding persons.
Be elitist regarding ideas.