Book Review: The Beauty of Intolerance

Title: The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Authors: Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell
Publisher: Uhrichsville, Ohio: Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing (2016)

The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love by father and son author team, Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, teaches parents how to counter the politically correct but faulty definition of tolerance that shapes the worldview of our young people. From this book, parents will learn how to dialogue with their college-age (or teen) children about cultural tolerance and in love, point them to the truth of God’s word.

The authors explain the purpose of this book this way: “…we believe it is possible to love and accept people with whom we significantly disagree. This is the path Jesus took. And it is the one we are called to today—even if such an approach is increasingly considered intolerant” (18).

The book can be divided into two sections. Each of the first seven chapters deals with a worldview challenge, mainly free sex and the LBGTQ+ movement. Chapters 8-12 cover the areas of education, government, and society, and how cultural tolerance has infiltrated the church.

In the first section, fictional conversations illustrate how Christian parents typically react when their young adult child embraces a secular worldview that conflicts with their biblical beliefs. These encounters end with a relational breakdown.

Next, the authors explain how a particular cultural value conflicts with the biblical worldview and how the biblical view matches reality. Later in the book, the McDowells rewrite a couple of previous conversations to provide parents a model of how they can speak the truth with love to their children. This way, parents can build their relationships with their children instead of increasing the cultural divide.

Clash of Worldviews

For example, chapter two opens with this scenario:

Chad tells his father he’s going to watch the international Gay Games so he can see his friend’s brother run in a race. The father blurts out that homosexuality is wrong, and Chad says his father hates gays and is out the door.

The LBGTQ+ movement is one example of an issue that divides biblical Christians from mainstream culture. The McDowells state how this and other moral matters expose our differences in:

(1) what it means to be tolerant and intolerant; (2) who or what is to judge what is morally right and wrong; (3) what it means to accept without approving; (4) how we are to demonstrate proper respect and care for others; and (5) what steps must be taken to narrow the divide and resolve the conflict (37).

The above quotation outlines of the first half of the book.

Regarding tolerance, the authors explain the difference between traditional tolerance(to recognize another’s beliefs without embracing them) and cultural tolerance (the idea that all moral truth is equal).

For instance, various Bible verses support the traditional definition such as Romans 12:16, 18: “Be of the same mind toward one another … If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” But the scriptures also clearly declare that God defines all truth, and Jesus is the only way to God and the only truth.

This exclusiveness of biblical Christianity angers those who follow cultural tolerance: How dare anyone say that absolute truth exists and applies to everyone!

Cultural tolerance, on the other hand, claims individuals develop their own sense of morality. No one has the right to tell another what they believe or do is wrong.

Godly Love

Recognizing these divergent definitions is the first step in explaining biblical morality to others. The next step is understanding the nature of moral truth, which is based on God’s character. The final step is comprehending true love and how to show it to others.

To illustrate this final step, the McDowells first discuss the topic of judging a behavior as morally right or wrong and how to accept others without approving their choices. Here they reinforce the book’s title, The Beauty of Intolerance: “Intolerance of evil is not mean-spirited and condemnatory; it is actually the only way to be loving and caring. Far from being judgmental, it advances God’s righteous kingdom” (138). To be intolerance of sin and dangerous behavior is actually a good thing.

Later in this chapter, the authors provide a rewritten version of the story of Chad and his dad. Instead of bluntly declaring homosexuality a sin, Chad’s father sees the sporting event as an opportunity. He asks to go along with his son to watch the race. Afterwards, he finds a compassionate way to talk to Chad about homosexuality.

Recommendation

Although the book primarily addresses parents of college-age children, I would recommend this book to anyone who interacts with young adults or teens. Parents of teenagers would find this book beneficial as another tool to help them to raise godly children. Armed with this information, they can prepare for the attack of worldly ideas and prevent them from taking their children captive (See Colossians 2:8).

For a summary of each chapter, please click here.

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