Not Tolerant–Just Condescending

N.T. Wright makes this point regarding the whole “true for you but not for me” ridiculousness in his book Simply Christian:

One of the regular tactics the skeptic employs at this point is relativism. I vividly remember a school friend saying to me in exasperation, at the end of a conversation about Christian faith, “Its obviously true for you but that doesn’t make it true for anybody else.” Many people today take exactly that line. Saying, “It’s true for you” sounds fine and tolerant. But it only works because it twists the word “true” to mean, not “a true revelation of the way things are in the real world,” but “something that is genuinely happening inside you.” In fact, saying “It’s true for you” in this sense is more or less equivalent to saying “It’s not true for you” because the “it” in question–the spiritual sense or awareness or experience–is conveying, very powerfully, a message (that there is a loving God) which the challenger is reducing to something else (that you are having strong feelings which you misinterpret in that sense). (Pg. 26)

We need to remember what a lame and condescending response this is to a serious presentation of the Christian faith. The person who gives such a response is not being tolerant; the response arises from a condescension that comes from, one can only assume, a closed, small, and already made-up-mind. It is a pat on the head and a mumbled “Yes, that’s nice dear,” from behind the morning paper. It is the response of someone who under the guise of being “tolerant” is actually just being dismissive and condescending.

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4 Responses to Not Tolerant–Just Condescending

  1. Burk Braun says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    But to be entirely frank, this mangling of “truth” started long before, within the precincts of theology. It is theology that demands no test of truth other than how it feels, and no standard other than the untrue things previously said by others in the traditions and the scriptures, who themselves claimed (claimed!) to be true by magical and unseen inspiration. So don't be surprised when the same standard is reflected back to you as a matter of politeness.

    Best wishes!


  2. Darrell says:

    Burk, you have the wonderful gift of proving the very point being made in your responses to those points…thank you.

    All the Best!


  3. nw1rw2 says:

    ….just to let you know that people are reading and appreciating this blog !

    Dick Watts


  4. Darrell says:


    Thank you!


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