The New Tolerance: How a cultural movement threatens to destroy you, your faith, and your children.

The New Tolerance: How a cultural movement threatens to destroy you, your faith, and your children.

by Bob Hostetler, Josh D. McDowell

This book will help readers discern truth from error and to withstand the pressure—even persecution—to conform to a relativistic culture. Tyndale House Publishers


This book will help readers discern truth from error and to withstand the pressure—even persecution—to conform to a relativistic culture. Tyndale House Publishers

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Tyndale House Publishers
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5.46(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Borg.

Half-human, half-machine. A highly advanced race of predators. They attack without mercy and assimilate their victims into "the Collective," a single group mind in which all individual thought, action, and personality are lost.

The Borg do not coexist with other life forms or cultures. They destroy any inferior individuals or worlds they encounter, and assimilate all others. They have no conscience. No ethic. And they will not stop until they have destroyed or assimilated all their enemies.

The Borg are fictional, of course—the ingenious creation of the minds behind the popular Star Trek television and movie series. But the Borg have a counterpart in contemporary culture. Chances are, it has already infected your community, your schools, your church—even your children. It may already be undermining your own faith and witness. And, if it hasn't already, it could soon begin to influence and infect the ones you love most. And it won't stop until you and your family are totally assimilated.

This real-life threat is called "the new tolerance," a simple phrase that describes a complex modern doctrine.

The New Tolerance

For a long time, I thought I knew what people meant when they used the word tolerance. But I have since discovered that what the word used to mean and what it means today are two drastically different things.

Today's doctrine of tolerance (what I will call "the new tolerance") goes far beyond the dictionary's definition of tolerance. Webster's defines tolerate as "to recognize and respect [others' beliefs, practices, etc.] without sharing them," and "to bear or put up with [someone or something not especially liked]." But that's not what the word means and promotes anymore, at least not to the majority of the people and institutions using it . . . and that is especially true among students.

And the new tolerance poses a grave danger to you and your family, as you will see in the experience of Monica and her daughter, Sherry.

Different Lifestyles

Monica was raised in a non-Christian but loving family, with fairly strict rules and guidelines. A good student—and, according to her parents, a "good girl"—Monica went off to college at the age of eighteen. She made excellent grades, was involved in respectable campus activities, and faithfully visited her parents during every school break. Then, in her senior year, she shared her dorm room with a glowing Christian, who patiently answered Monica's many questions until, finally, one Friday afternoon, Monica surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. She became involved in a nearby church, where she soon met and married a fine Christian man named Jack. A year later she presented her parents with their first grandchild, Sherry. Life couldn't have gotten any better.

But when Sherry became a teenager, things began to change. The signs were subtle at first, but eventually Monica and Jack had to admit that their daughter seemed to be rejecting many of their values. They were disturbed but continued to pray for Sherry and to believe she would "outgrow this phase" and return to the things they had taught her. They were relieved that, in spite of their differences with their daughter, she never got involved in the drug or alcohol scene as did many of her peers. Sherry graduated from high school with honors and went off to the same college her mother had attended. That's where she met Tony.

"You'll love him, Mom," Sherry declared on her first visit home from college. "He's so sweet—not to mention brilliant. He's already excelling in every class. Everyone respects him. And he treats me like a queen!"

Monica smiled. "I'm so happy for you," she said. "So when do we get to meet him?"

"Actually, we were hoping we could both come here for Christmas break—not for the entire two weeks, of course. We want to spend part of it with his parents too. But at least long enough that you can all get to know each other."

"That's a wonderful idea, honey. Your dad and I would love it. Just let us know ahead of time which days you'll be here, and I'll have the guest room ready."

Sherry hesitated. "Sure, Mom. Although—" She took a deep breath. "Well, like, is the guest room really necessary? I was thinking we could just stay in my room together."

Monica's eyes opened wide. "Don't be silly. You can't do that. It wouldn't be right."

"I thought you'd say that," Sherry responded. "I explained to Tony how you and Dad feel about that sort of thing, but I promised to talk to you about it anyway. But don't worry. We'll respect your feelings and sleep in separate rooms while we're here."

Monica's heart pounded like drums in her ears. "While you're here? What do you mean, while you're here? Are you trying to tell me that you intend to sleep together when you're not here?"

"We already do, Mom," Sherry explained patiently. "We're in love. You don't really expect us to—"

Monica interrupted. "I expect you to respect the morals and values we've taught you all your life."

"I do," Sherry countered. "That's why I agreed that we would sleep in separate rooms while we're here. But at Tony's house or at school, it's different."

Monica shook her head. "Are you trying to tell me that Tony's parents have no problem with your sleeping together at their house?"

"No, Mom, they don't. After all, not everyone shares your views on that sort of thing, you know."

Monica shook her head. "I know that," she said, wiping a tear from her cheek. "But I certainly thought you did."

Sherry moved from the rocker and sat on the couch beside her mother. "Mom, in many ways, I do share your views. You and Dad have taught me a lot. But there are some things I have to decide for myself. For you and Dad, living together before you got married would have been wrong. But I don't feel the same way. That's what I wish you could understand. You have your value system, and I have mine. The fact that they're different doesn't mean one is right and the other wrong, and it doesn't mean we can't respect each other's opinions. In fact, that's the whole point. We need to respect and honor differing value systems—yours, mine, and everyone else's—just as we honor and respect our own. Anything else would be intolerant. We can't force our values or beliefs on other people. It's just not right. Can't you please try to understand that?"

Monica stifled a sob. "I don't know, honey," she said. "I just don't know."

A Wide Gulf

Sherry had fallen prey to the new tolerance. And her poor mother was mystified by her daughter's way of thinking . . . and living. But that's just the sort of gulf the new tolerance creates between many parents and children, a gulf that often leaves parents shaking their heads and wondering where they went wrong (this gulf will be explained further in chapter 2).

Nor do the dangers of the new tolerance stop there. Even if your loved ones do not succumb to its siren song, the new tolerance still bears many dangerous, threatening implications to you, your family, and your church. It will expose you to severe criticism. It may make you legally liable in some courtrooms. It may even cost you your job.

Consider the case of Jerrold Warner. Warner, a professor at Arizona Western College in Scottsdale, Arizona, had received glowing annual reviews until he became involved in the Christian Student Union on campus. However, after he posted announcements around campus for a video entitled America in Peril, which was to be shown at a CSU club meeting, his department chairman demanded the removal of the posters prior to the event. Not only that, but Warner was also informed that he would no longer be permitted to host CSU meetings in his classroom without prior permission from the vice president's office, despite the fact that other faculty routinely hosted club meetings—as Warner had previously done—without such prior permission.

Nor did Warner's problems end there. In March 1995, the professor received notice that his contract would not be renewed. In effect, he had been fired.

"Before becoming identified with CSU," said James Mueller, an attorney specializing in the defense of religious liberty, "Mr. Warner's employee evaluations were extremely high, and he was rated 'above expectations.' The nonrenewal of Mr. Warner's contract appears to be directly related to his sponsorship of CSU."

Why would a college professor's employment be terminated because of his support of a Christian organization? Because of a new definition of tolerance.

Or consider Beverly Schnell's case. Schnell wanted to find a tenant to help her remodel her hundred-year-old home in return for lower rent. As a Christian, she hoped to offer the job to a dependable, mature, fellow believer, so she placed a classified ad for a "mature Christian handyman."

Her ad prompted government officials to leap into action. Her simple ad was a clear case of sexual and religious discrimination, they decreed. Rather than the six or eight dollars most classified ads might cost, Beverly Schnell's ad carried an eight-thousand-dollar price tag—for fines and fees imposed upon her by the state bureaucracy.

But this new definition of tolerance not only poses a potential threat to you; it also places your children in a perilous and possibly damaging position. You may wonder how any of the following incidents could possibly be prompted by something called "tolerance" because they seem so intolerant. But they are all directly related to the rise of the new tolerance.

Shannon Berry, a first grader at Bayshore Elementary School in Bradenton, Florida, began talking to a classmate at recess about their mutual faith in Jesus Christ. A teacher, overhearing the conversation, drew both of them aside and reprimanded them, telling them that they were "not allowed to talk about Jesus at school."

A similar incident occurred in Selkirk, New York, when a third-grade teacher stopped a child from reading the Bible in her free time. The crying child was threatened and told never to bring the forbidden book to school again.

Fourth grader Raymond Raines made the mistake of bowing his head over his lunch to whisper a silent prayer. That act, however, resulted in a trip to the principal's office and a warning that if he tried to pray again—even silently—he would be disciplined.

Such experiences are not limited to young children, nor to those in public school. One fourteen-year-old girl ran into trouble in her parochial-school history class. The class was instructed to write a constitution for a pseudo country. The discussion turned into a debate when the girl politely objected to a suggestion that the constitution include freedom of sexual preference and maintained that sexual preference didn't deserve special mention in the constitution. Almost immediately, a classmate erupted, saying, "You're a bigot!" The teacher intervened to prevent further name-calling, but the damage had been done; that fourteen-year-old's parents had to help her cope with the undeserved label her classmate had given her.

Some years ago, I asked my daughter Katie whether she feared being called any names or labeled in any way at school. I was surprised at her answer. She responded immediately that she was afraid of being called "intolerant." That label was enough to strike fear into the heart of my teenage daughter.

Christian children and teenagers in communities across North America—and around the world—are encountering and enduring such treatment on a regular basis. Why? Because of the new definition of tolerance.

Not only are you and your family at risk, but your church will face (if it hasn't already) increasing opposition and persecution as a result of this threat.

A city in Illinois passed an ordinance prohibiting home meetings (which would encompass home schooling and home churches, Bible studies, and prayer meetings) of more than three people at a time.

The pastor of a church in Pennsylvania was threatened with a lawsuit by a former member who was ejected from the church because of his homosexual lifestyle.

And a Pennsylvania church received a notice of public sale of the church property to pay school taxes. The church lost its tax-exempt status in 1994, when the city council revoked the tax-exempt status of all Protestant churches and nonprofit organizations.

These things are not only happening now; they will likely occur with greater frequency and intensity in coming months and years because of the new definition of tolerance.

Ominous Cultural Changes

As you read these lines, the society around you is undergoing what may be the fastest, most ominous cultural change in human history, something author Dennis McCallum calls "a cultural metamorphosis, transforming every area of everyday life as it spreads through education, movies, television, and other media." It is a change so vast that its implications are mind-boggling. Most frightening of all is that most Christians seem to be missing it. As a result, we may very well wake up in the not-too-distant future in a culture that is not only unreceptive but openly hostile to the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, a culture in which those who proclaim the gospel will be labeled as bigots and fanatics, a culture in which persecution of Christians will be not only allowed but applauded. And all of it will be directly related to the "new tolerance."

"How can that possibly be?" you may well ask. "How can something called 'tolerance' create hostility? How could 'tolerance' victimize me, my children, and my church? How could a seemingly benevolent idea like that possibly result in oppression and persecution?"

The next chapter reveals the trouble with tolerance.

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