Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tolerance and that sort of stuff

What is 'tolerance'? It used to mean putting up with what you did not like. I 'tolerate' the neighbour's irritating outside telephone buzzer, for example. But a new meaning has been introduced by 'postmodern' types. Now 'tolerance' means accepting evyone as equally valid. And there's a catch. According to this new definition of tolerance, such 'tolerance' is only to be extended to the 'tolerant'. Eveyone else is 'intolerant' and therefore not worthy of tolerance.
A clever wheeze, this. It's a classic case of newspeak (for which see George Orwell's 1984). Just as in 1984 the Ministry of Peace dealt with war, so this 'tolerance' is really intolerance given a new name. The old concept meant that, as Christians, we allowed other religions to exist, though we disagreed with them and sought to evangelize their adherents who are going to hell. In new-style 'tolerance' that is 'intolerant'. No, the 'tolerant' thing to do is say they are all going to heaven. And that is why so many Churches have stopped talking about the Wrath of God, about Hell and judgement. Well, not on my watch. If that's 'intolerant', then I'm intolerant. But I'm not looking to persecute anyone. Some of my forefathers were refugees who fled to England because of religious persecution in France. Others were Primitive Methodists who were stoned and assaulted in the streets because they were not Church of England. THERE is real religious intolerance.

And finally, those Catholics who chased my forefathers out of France, those self-righteous Churchmen who wrecked the chapel where my Primitive Methodist ancestors worshipped, they tolerated those who agreed with them. There's nothing surprising about that. Any man can love a man who agrees with him. It's loving your enemies that is Christian.

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