tol·er·ance (tŏl‘ər-əns) n.
- The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
“Tolerance” is one of those things that has become twisted by the postmodern world. We are to be tolerant of all things except absolutes. The hypocrisy of this sort of thinking is most obvious. In reading the December issue of First Things, I found this comment from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus:
Peter Kreeft, who teaches philosophy at Boston College, a school “in the Jesuit tradition,” told me an interesting story the other day. In the late sixties, BC took the crucifixes off classroom walls lest the school be perceived as “sectarian” and therefore be deprived of government funding. The Jesuits are a highly principled bunch, but the funding at stake was sizeable. One day, a Muslim student declared himself deeply offended by the implication that he was a bigot. He explained that if a Christian attended a Muslim university and declared himself offended by the Qur’anic inscriptions on the walls, he would surely view that Christian as a bigot. He said, in addition, that Muslims would not be so spineless in submitting to a government mandate that they erase the signs of their allegiance. It is a nice point, and Prof. Kreeft said the Christian, mainly Catholic, students in the class admitted they had not thought of it in quite that way. It is frequently the case that bigots are most vocal in talking about bigotry. Of course, BC is not precisely the public square. It is a Catholic school. Or at least a school “in the Jesuit tradition.”
I wonder if the sentiment on a Jesuit campus would be the same today? I wonder what Christians on a HBCU campus in 2007 would think about that 1960’s comment and the response? (“Why an HBCU campus, specifically,” you ask? From where would Christians on a HBCU campus have come?) I fully affirm the Christian teaching of submission to authority except where submission to authority would mean disobedience to God. Carson has helped me think through “tolerance” in a pluralistic world in a better way than has West.