"The Problem with Tolerance," a Commentary with Charles Colson and Diana L. Eck

April 7, 2007

Author: Charles Colson and Diana Eck

Source: The Washington Post


3:00 PM Welcome to the live On Faith online debate between Charles Colson and Diana Eck. For the next 30 minutes, our two On Faith panelists are going to discuss tolerance. Mr. Colson, earlier this month you wrote: "I would argue that society needs to take a hard, sober look at how we define tolerance. Is it as classically understood, a willingness to entertain all points of view and listen respectfully to those with whom we disagree? Or does it mean accepting an all-beliefs-are-equal position?" How would you answer your own question?

David Waters 3:09 PM We are having a few technical difficulties. Please bear with us for a moment.

Charles "Chuck" Colson 3:13 PM Test post. Tolerance

Charles "Chuck" Colson 3:14 PM Tolerance is listening respectfully to other points of view in a free, open, and civil discussion in a pluralistic society.

Diana L. Eck 3:15 PM I agree with this. Only the shallowest and most casual use of tolerance would claim that all beliefs are equal. From a religious point of view, we certainly can say there are many ways of being people of faith --Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu. Indeed, there are arguments within each tradition of faith. But all religious beliefs are not the same, though all may be held with equal conviction. The willingness to "entertain" all points of view implies more curiosity, more engagement with the other. But I would argue that "tolerance" is too passive, too thin a foundation for relationships in a society with as many cultural and religious differences as ours.