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Is it actually good to be tolerant?

I have long been troubled by the use of the term “tolerant” by those advocating that I change the way I consider people who think, look, or act differently. One of the term's most frequent applications is with regard to race. The common mantra is that we should be racially tolerant.

The problem is that by definition “racial tolerance” assumes a subjective standard of racial perfection, which would logically demand and subjectively define racial imperfection as well.  It therefore stands to reason that unless one has a substantially skewed (bigoted) worldview, he cannot thoughtfully juxtaposition the terms "racial" and "tolerance."

So, what then is the deal with "tolerance?" Is it good or is it bad?  If we say a person is a "tolerant" person, are we praising or reproving that person?  What, exactly, does the term mean?

"Tolerance," by definition, denotes a level of willingness to accept a certain level of imperfection. 

A machine tool, for instance, may have a tolerance of .000001 of an inch.  That means that should it measure .0000011 inch (1.1 millionths of an inch) more or less than specified, it ought to be rejected. ...A millionth (or less) off and it would be acceptable. It doesn't matter what adjective we put in front of tolerance, the concept conveyed will always denote whatever is deemed the acceptable level of imperfection.

In more graphic terms, tolerance could be thought of as a stick used to measure manure.  If you have a fairly long "tolerance" stick, and you poke it into the manure pile, if it hits the bottom before your fingers begin to stink, then the pile has not exceeded your level of tolerance.

If, however, you have a shorter "tolerance" stick, you will allow less manure to accumulate.  A smaller pile of manure suggests that you are relatively intolerant; that you prefer to adhere more closely to the ideal that you have established.

Since I, as a Christian, believe that there is only one standard of perfection—the Word of God, for me to be intolerant simply means that I seek to practice a lifestyle as close to God's Word as possible.

For me to be tolerant in this regard means that I would be willing to accept a certain amount of variation from the standard.  God has a word for that willingness to accept less than what His Word calls for. He calls it "sin." (Sin, by definition, simply means "to miss the mark," or "to willingly practice what is known to be wrong.")

Therefore, for the Christian, tolerance and intolerance are best applied (in philosophical terms) when referring to some sort of sin.  It is never appropriate for a Christian to use these terms to express our view of an individual or a group of people. God does not tolerate people. He loves us all. We must be like Him in that respect.

I further believe that it is never correct for a Christian to say that we must not tolerate liars, fornicators, murderers, abusers, etc.  Not only does the Bible require that we must love (not merely tolerate) all sinners, but that we are to look right through their sin and see their souls.  To that end and to that degree we must even tolerate their sin!  Jesus had no problem eating with sinners—neither ought we.

The only thing of which we should be totally intolerant is the sin that resides in our own heart. That is the only sin that can harm us, and it is the only sin for which we are ultimately responsible.

People we accept, love and respect.  But sin, as it resides in our own hearts, that we do not tolerate.

This whole business about tolerance might seem on the surface to be a frivolous exercise in semantics. But that is not the case. Words have meanings, and those meanings should be respected. Otherwise we lose the ability to communicate in a meaningful manner.

Here are some great words to ponder: “If … My people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek My face, turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chron. 7:13-14).

God knows that words have meaning, and He doesn’t fool around with nuance. If we do what II Chronicles tells us to do, we will have revival.

Accept the challenge—pray for national revival, now!

We must have revival.

My book, WIND, is the roadmap for this revival. It is available from Amazon, and Kindle. Please consider buying it. Whether or not you get the book, I will provide one article on this site every week until we have revival. If you like it, email the link to a friend, and put it on Facebook.

You may email your thoughts and comments to If you choose to email me, please know that I might print some or all of your thoughts on this site. If you don't like what I advocate, let me know.

Mike Carrier, M.A., NYU

Click here to buy WIND on Amazon Kindle. ($2.99)
Click here to buy WIND on Amazon (Print Book). ($14.99)

Buy and send copies of WIND to your children and grandchildren. It will make them angry (at first), but in the end they will thank you.

Read previous posts:

Just how close can we get to God (5-20-16)

Failure of public schools (5-13-16)

Trump/Hillary/Biden/Sanders (5-6-16)

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Some thinkers have already written America off. For instance, in 2008 Fareed Zakaria wrote a New York Times Best Seller entitled The Post-American World in which he outlined just such a scenario.

According to many academics and philosophers (such as Mr. Zakaria), America’s role as a leader in the world is on the wane. Even some of our current political leaders are looking to the rest of the world for guidance through our tough times. They are speaking as though America’s best days are long gone.

Well, perhaps they are right. Maybe it is time to give up and bow down to what the world wants us to do; to surrender our liberties, and our leadership. Perhaps it is time for capitulation.

But, we do have a choice. And the choice is clear and real. In earlier times, when faced with similar circumstances, America (and other God-centric countries) simply heeded the imperative stated in the Old Testament: "If . . . My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:13-14).

Nothing could be more clear, or more simple. Within that short statement resides all that is required of us to find our way back. It has worked before, and it will work again.

This book explains in clear terminology how you can do your part to help bring about the restoration of our country through a Third Great Awakening.

WIND is a call for national revival—a clarion call.

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*WIND Vol. 2 is not yet available, but if you would like to preview a chapter of it you may: "Revivals in History--The Correct View"