Timely Talk on Tolerance by Dr. Stan Gaede

Given the current cultural landscape in our nation, it is timely for Gordon’s scholar-in-residence, Christian College Consortium President Dr. Stan Gaede, to publish When Tolerance is No Virtue—and it’s no surprise that the book is a bestseller.

“One of the editors spotted the line, ‘when tolerance is no virtue’ in the manuscript and liked it, thought it would be provocative, thought it would sell a lot of books, and it did,” Gaede said. “What more can you want? Well, I was hoping for a lot more.”

Gaede was able to share the wisdom from his book in a talk sponsored by the Center of Faith and Inquiry, “To Be, or not To Be: So…When is Tolerance a Virtue?”

It was in a Vanderbilt University Ph.D. class, that Gaede realized how “unfree academic freedom could be in the hands of someone who wanted to employ it for his own purposes,” he says. Later, Gaede turned down a full-time position at the University so he could eventually come to a Christian college, where he says he feels freer as a scholar and teacher.

“There is no academic freedom without context,” Gaede said, “just like there is no tolerance without a set of assumptions about its meaning.”

Gaede provided a political example pulled from memories recently etched into our minds: Presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and Mr. Donald Trump (R) were diametrically opposed, and their followers were sure to remind each other of that fact. In their dialogue, or lack thereof, Gaede said, “It was not about even some of the same core beliefs and then arguing about the best strategies to get there. Rather, it was saying that the other side doesn’t get it at all.”

Middle ground did not seem to be an option in the recent presidential campaign, Gaede observed. He argued, “With such discontinuity and confusion about that which is good, right and true, you cannot do what you should do in such circumstances, and that is (to) lift up the deeper goal, such as the pursuit of justice, and argue about the best way to accomplish it.”

Tolerance, Gaede said, is acted out through learning, otherwise it is not out of love. And that is certainly no virtue.

By Dan Simonds ’17, communication arts