Hot Topic: Tolerance and the Public Square

As we bring our Hot Topics series to a close at The Ave, I’m offering up some final resources on the topic for this week: Tolerance and the Public Square.

While much could be said here, I’m going to offer some key resources that I think would be helpful for folks to explore.

Tolerance
On the issue of tolerance from a Christian perspective, I cannot think of any other book quite as good as Stan Gaede’s When Tolerance Is No Virtue. This is a brief book that is quite easy to read, but well thought out. Some of my thoughts for my message about replacing the term tolerance with the biblical language of justice came from this book.

General Resources
There are some important resources for grasping the difficult issue of how Christians relate with the world. Here are three important ones, from my perspective:

Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon; for a good brief essay by one of these authors, read this.
Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr
People of the Truth by Robert E. Webber and Rodney Clapp – as with many good books, this is out of print now, but still available used.

Christianity and Politics
Turning to the realm of politics, which I think may have been many people’s area of interest with this topic, I offer the following brief summary of views.

Along with the typical political positions of conservative/right/Republican and liberal/left/democrat, I think it is helpful to outline some further perspectives within the Christian community on engagement with politics.

Neo-Conservatives
This is the perspective that America is an experiment in democratic liberty which is religiously rooted. Some key examples of this would be:

Richard John Neuhaus, who has written The Naked Public Square, and edits the periodical First Things.

Chuck Colson, former aid to President Nixon who converted to Christianity, started Prison Fellowship, and organizer of Breakpoint, an audio program on today’s news and culture from a Christian perspective.

Pro-justice Activists
This is the perspective that emphasizes biblical justice as a prophetic stand that critiques the existing political systems.

Jim Wallis, who has written God’s Politics, and edits the periodical Sojourners.

Ron Sider, author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and chairs the organization Evangelicals for Social Action with their periodical Prism.

Pro-America Conservatives
This is the perspective that America must return to its roots as a Christian nation, shunning pluralism, moral-relativism, and political-secularism.

Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and point person in The Moral Majority.

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and author of Marriage Under Fire.

8 thoughts on “Hot Topic: Tolerance and the Public Square

  1. I listened to your message online and thought it was great! So many thoughts on the issue of tolerance…but I’m short on time. Something that I’ve thought about quite a bit recently is this idea of truth and grace. particularly the idea of speaking truth in a pluralistic society. here is a poem written by a guy that i thought was compelling: http://www.taylormali.com/index.cfm?webid=21

    perhaps i’ll add more later. i’m glad that ya’ll are discussing these things at the Ave.

  2. I listened to your message online and thought it was great! So many thoughts on the issue of tolerance…but I’m short on time. Something that I’ve thought about quite a bit recently is this idea of truth and grace. particularly the idea of speaking truth in a pluralistic society. here is a poem written by a guy that i thought was compelling: http://www.taylormali.com/index.cfm?webid=21

    perhaps i’ll add more later. i’m glad that ya’ll are discussing these things at the Ave.

  3. Ryan,

    Thanks for the feedback. I appreciated the poem by Taylor Mali. It was quite good and an important statement about the lack of conviction in our culture today.

    Although there is an important emphasis upon humility in our ideas and convictions these days, it often leads to an over-emphatic lack of conviction in our thinking.

    Too often we are spineless in our opinions and not adequate thinkers about life and issues at hand. Hopefully, the Hot Topics series at The Ave can be a catalyst for thoughtful Christianity here in Milwaukee.

  4. Ryan,

    Thanks for the feedback. I appreciated the poem by Taylor Mali. It was quite good and an important statement about the lack of conviction in our culture today.

    Although there is an important emphasis upon humility in our ideas and convictions these days, it often leads to an over-emphatic lack of conviction in our thinking.

    Too often we are spineless in our opinions and not adequate thinkers about life and issues at hand. Hopefully, the Hot Topics series at The Ave can be a catalyst for thoughtful Christianity here in Milwaukee.

  5. Seriously, the tension between the importance of humility in the way we speak and that of speaking with conviction is so fragile. It is important, then, to always be aware of the fact that it is the Spirit who speaks through us, and to be fervent in hearing His voice to our cultural moment. I’m learning sooo much that it is only when He speaks in and through our lives can truth really be relevant. When we try to do it on our own, our words are either empty (irrelevant) or intolerant.

  6. Seriously, the tension between the importance of humility in the way we speak and that of speaking with conviction is so fragile. It is important, then, to always be aware of the fact that it is the Spirit who speaks through us, and to be fervent in hearing His voice to our cultural moment. I’m learning sooo much that it is only when He speaks in and through our lives can truth really be relevant. When we try to do it on our own, our words are either empty (irrelevant) or intolerant.

  7. I know I tend toward the irrelevant side of town when I speak. My prayer is that I will listen to the Spirit’s voice in the midst of everything and speak from that perspective. Terribly challenging though…as it is much easier to be completely tolerant and irrelevant.

  8. I know I tend toward the irrelevant side of town when I speak. My prayer is that I will listen to the Spirit’s voice in the midst of everything and speak from that perspective. Terribly challenging though…as it is much easier to be completely tolerant and irrelevant.

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