FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Understanding Intolerance

with Josh McDowell | August 18, 2016
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Christians are often accused of being intolerant, but did you know that God is intolerant too? Best-selling author and speaker Josh McDowell talks about the beauty of intolerance. McDowell exposes the myth of tolerance and reminds us that there are all kinds of things we shouldn't be tolerant of like abuse, poverty, and racism.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Christians are often accused of being intolerant, but did you know that God is intolerant too? Best-selling author and speaker Josh McDowell talks about the beauty of intolerance. McDowell exposes the myth of tolerance and reminds us that there are all kinds of things we shouldn't be tolerant of like abuse, poverty, and racism.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Josh McDowell exposes the myth of tolerance and reminds us that there are things we shouldn’t tolerate like abuse, poverty, and racism.

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Understanding Intolerance

With Josh McDowell
August 18, 2016
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Bob: Which is a more important virtue for your child to be raised with—the virtue of tolerance or the virtue of love? Josh McDowell says: “It’s no contest.”

Josh: I refuse to ever teach my children to be tolerant because I believe you diminish the value of a person. When you tolerate someone, you diminish them because you’re saying, “It doesn’t matter what you believe; everything is true.” I raised my children to be loving. When you love someone, you attribute value to their life in the image of God—value, dignity, worth. When you love someone, you acknowledge who they are as a person.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What should we think of the virtue of tolerance? We’re going to explore that and explore how we teach our children to be, not just tolerant, but loving. Stay with us.


And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I remember awhile back when Max Lucado was here. We were talking about the number of books he’s sold over the years. I think I said something to him like: “Is it up over 50 million books?” [Laughter] You know, it’s near 100 million books that he’s sold.

Dennis: Right; right.

Bob: I was way low—I felt embarrassed afterwards.

I was trying to think: “I wonder how many books Josh McDowell’s has written?” You know, you’d have to think—because I’ve seen a lot of—

Josh: Eighty million. [Laughter]

Bob: I think that might be a little high, Josh. [Laughter] Josh is here. I have a number here that says you’ve written—co-authored or authored—145 books.


Josh: It is 149 now.

Bob: A hundred forty-nine books!

Dennis: See this bio, Bob?

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: We got this the first of the week. [Laughter]

Bob: So it’s out of date by now! [Laughter]

Josh: I do books like you do a radio broadcast!

Bob: Okay.

Dennis: That’s for sure; that’s for sure.

Well, if you don’t know Josh McDowell, Google him; alright? Google him and then check out More Than a Carpenter. Share with our listeners the name of that book again—what’s the name of the book?

Josh: More Than a Carpenter.

Bob: Typically—

Dennis: I did that! I did that, Josh, because Bob has an imitation of you sharing about that book, Josh.

Bob: Now, let me just—in my defense, Josh, I’m going to say this: “I was a bad speller as a child; okay? That’s because I’m an audio learner. Unless people’s diction was very clear, I spelled it wrong; and I always blamed them and not myself. Okay?”

So, I just heard you—let me say this—Dennis, when I first came here, would talk about the FamLife Conference. I would say, “What is FamLife?” He’d say, “No, it’s Fam—”

Dennis: That is way overstated.


Bob: “Would you pronounce it as FamilyLife instead of the FamLife Conference; okay?”

Dennis: Way overstated. [Laughter]

Bob: But I’m just telling you—

Dennis: So how did Josh pronounce More Than a Carpenter?

Bob: I heard you talk about Morin, a Carpenter for years! Morin, a Carpenter. I’d say, “Who’s Morin?—Morin, a Carpenter. I don’t know who Morin is.” [Laughter]

But that book’s been translated into how many languages?

Josh: From now on, I’ll speak slowly so you’ll get it, Bob. [Laughter]

Dennis: It’s been translated into more than 100 languages.

Josh: First Christian book in over 70 languages.

Bob: Wow.

Dennis: And now, how many in print?—30 million?

Josh: It’s a little over 30 million, I think, now; it was 29 million a year ago.

Bob: That’s amazing.

Josh: We’re very grateful. It took 44 hours to write it.

Bob: Oh, wow; yes.

Dennis: I know you’re just rubbing it in.

Josh: No. Dottie and I were in Chicago. I said, Dennis: “I’m not going to bed. I’ll sit up to write a book,”—started writing. Forty-four hours later, I sent it off to Tyndale. [Laughter]

Bob: How come you can’t write books like that?

Dennis: Because I’m not Josh McDowell. [Laughter]

Josh: He can do radio broadcasts like that.


Bob: He does do that!

Dennis: Well, Josh and Dottie are cohorts of Barbara and I, as staff members of Cru®. Josh, we’ve [Dennis and Barbara] served with Cru now for going on our 46th year—you’ve been on for 55?

Josh: When the four of us joined Cru, the Dead Sea was only sick. [Laughter]

Bob: That’s right.

Dennis: Well, he has written a book—let’s step away from this nonsense—and let’s talk about your new book, Josh. You co-authored this with your son, Sean. The way I want you to share the title of this book is to tell them about a T-shirt that you created, Josh. I really love this, and you didn’t bring me one—so I’m bitter.

Josh: But I’m going to send you one.

Dennis: Okay; alright.

Josh: I created a T-shirt to be edgy and get a truth across. On the front, it says, “Intolerance is a beautiful idea.” I would be in restaurants—I was in a Chick-Fil-A® and this guy yells across—the place is packed—and he says [loud/gruff voice], “What is on the back of that T-shirt?!” So I turned around and you could feel the whole crowd change.


On the back, it says: “Isn’t it wonderful that Nelson Mandela was intolerant of apartheid; Martin Luther King, Jr., intolerant of racism; Mother Teresa intolerant of poverty; Bono was intolerant of AIDS…” etc., etc. Then the guy yells out, “How can I get one of those T-shirts?” [Laughter] That became the title for the book.

Dennis: You believe this is really one of the most important subjects that individuals, first of all, understand what’s taking in our culture—but especially moms and dads as they raise the next generation—because we’re training our children about how to think and how to have convictions about a bunch of moral issues in our culture today, Josh; and they aren’t handling it well. The next generation, I think, is wilting under the—under the pressure.

Josh: I think—when it comes to thought, we’ve had probably one of the biggest generational shifts; and it is called tolerance.


The concept of tolerance has completely, totally changed from the time of the parents to the time of young people today. This is why, when I teach that tolerance is one of the greatest evils taught in the world today, many Christians, even, get upset with me: “Well, how can you say this?”

I said: “Because you don’t understand tolerance. It has totally changed. You see—with mom and dad / with the older generation, younger than you and me—when mom and dad—tolerance to them is to accept an individual and disagree with their concepts: “I love you as a person, but I do not agree with what you say,” —you’re being tolerant.

Well that is “sin” today—tolerance today—because it’s going through what’s called an epistemological shift—today, it means that all values, all beliefs, all lifestyles, all claims to truth are equal. If you dare to say there’s a value, a belief, a claim to truth, a lifestyle better or lesser than another, by definition today—and I document this in the book—by definition today you are a bigot and intolerant.


The problem is—parents and others are reacting to their kids / responding to their children, under their concept of tolerance, when their child has a totally different concept of tolerance. You’re not communicating. I wrote this book to try to help parents—moms and dads—to understand their children when it comes to morality, and beliefs, and values, and to communicate with them in language they will understand and not confusion.

Bob: So you’re saying there are all kinds of things in this culture we would all agree should not be tolerated—domestic violence should not be tolerated / sexual abuse of children should not be tolerated—we can come up with a list of things that everybody would say, “We should not tolerate that.” We have to think differently about what we mean by tolerate; don’t we?

Josh: There are people who would not agree with you, Bob.

Bob: Who would say we need to tolerate domestic violence?

Josh: Absolutely—oh, yes.


If you take a hard-core person, committed to tolerance—

Dennis: In order to be consistent, they would have to allow that.

Josh: That’s right. They would have to allow that.

With my son—this was a number of years ago—I said, “Sean,”—I picked him up at school—“is there anything they teach you in high school, here in Julian, California, that’s an absolute— it’s true for everyone and every place at all times?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “Tolerance.”

I said, “Son, let me ask you this—do they teach you to be tolerant of the tolerant and give you permission to be intolerant of the intolerant?” He said, “Yes, dad.” I said, “That’s the problem—total inconsistency.”

Dennis: You begin your book with a great illustration of this—of how parents faced a daughter by the name of Renee and her boyfriend, Tony, who wanted to come home and spend some time together at the house with the parents.


Explain the scenario and how all this ends up playing out—at conflict with the parents’ values, who weren’t tolerant of what was taking place.

Josh: So, we open the book with the story of Renee wanting to bring home her boyfriend. Her parents are a little hesitant: “Well, we don’t have room.” “Well, he can stay in my room,” etc. Then the parents kind of come unglued: “Absolutely not!”

You see what happened—you have two different complete worldviews between the parents and the child / how they perceive reality. To the parents that is wrong because God is—His very nature dictates truth—and that’s impurity against the Scriptures. To the daughter—she’s been totally ingrained with tolerance, and her parents never talked about it. Her folks were intolerant by saying, “No,” because they did not respect her opinion because, to her, truth is what she decides is truth / to her parents what the Bible decides is truth.


They weren’t communicating.

This is why, if we don’t get parents dialoguing with their children—I mean young / at five, six, seven years old—“What is truth?”—going back and forth—you’re going to have tremendous conflict in today’s culture because your children are coming at it from a totally different perspective—even if they go to Christian schools—than you do, as the parent.

Dennis: And they’re going to be surrounded by other kids who have bought into this worldview—that everybody can do what’s right in their own eyes.

Bob: Not just surrounded—they’re going to be rewarded and punished, as they grow up, if they hold to a standard of absolute truth. Their peer group is going to say, “Well then, you’re not one of us.”

Josh: We can take all this down to a phrase. People say, “Well Josh, I think you’re making a mountain out of an ant-hill,” and everything else. I say, “Okay: in all the countries in the world—among young people 24, 25, even 30 years old and younger—what is the biggest phrase?—it’s this: “Well, it might be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”


Parents weren’t raised in that.

Dennis: So if your child came home and made that statement: “Dad—man, all my friends—I mean, everybody’s believing what they want to believe. It’s all good. I want to be viewed as somebody who’s tolerant of people who aren’t like me / people who embrace other values. You and mom are just negative—you have too narrow a view of life.”

Josh: I would sit down—and I’ve done this with my kids over the years— “Well, let me ask you, honey: ‘Do you believe it is wrong—child sex trafficking?’” “Oh, yes!” “Well, how can you judge me if I think it is right? I think it helps a child to adjust to sexuality, helps them to grow up, to be comfortable with their body; it helps an older person to release the sexual tension and everything.” “But Mom, it’s wrong!” “Well, how can you say that?”

And then I’d say, “You know, kids, there are truths that are true. Whether you believe them or not, it is beyond us.


“As a believer, it’s the person, character, and nature of God as described in the Scripture.” They immediately say, “Well, how do you know that’s true?”

I need to raise my children—to not just believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and what God says, and everything—but “How do you know it’s true? How do you know it’s true?” If we do not do that, then you really don’t have much of a way to counteract intolerance in culture today because you’ve lost all objective reality.

This is why, in raising my children—oh, I get criticism for this / I don’t even know how you stand with it, Dennis—I tried almost never to answer my children’s questions because, if I answered my children’s questions, they were Dad’s answer / not their answers. I always came back with another question—I always would interact with my kids, where they came to the answer. When it was over, they had convictions—it was their answer / not Daddy’s answer.


Dennis: There are a lot of parents listening to us right now and saying: “Well, I didn’t grow up in a home like that. It’s not my natural way of thinking.”  Josh—neither did you; you didn’t grow up in a home like that.

Josh: “So what’s the big deal?” “This is what the big deal is…” I hear that all the time. The reason is this—when you were growing up—whatever your pastor taught, whatever your parents taught you, when you turned on the TV—to various degrees—the structures around you reinforced it. When you went to school / when you went to classrooms, what your pastor taught, and you taught, as a parent, was reinforced. That is no longer true!

Right now, this Sunday morning, whatever your pastor teaches / whatever you teach your kids—the moment they turn on TV, they go to their internet, they go to the Facebook®, they walk out in town / walking down the street—almost every structure in culture flies in the face. This is why I say: “Mom and dad, you were able to survive with a belief system and survive—not only thrive—but thrive in a great way.


“Your kids won’t without convictions.”

If you raise your children the way your parents raised you, you’ll probably lose them. Why?—because your parents, who did a great job for that culture at that time, raised you with a very good belief system. That won’t work anymore. You must now raise your children with convictions. Conviction is knowing what you believe / why you believe—now this is important—and experiencing it in your life.

You see, today, in dealing with tolerance, most people say, “Well, if it’s true, it will really work.” Kids say, “If it really works, it is true.” Seventy-eight percent of evangelical Christian young people, ask the question: “How do you know something is true?”—not because Jesus said it in the Bible—no: “If it works.”

Here is the problem with that—say a pastor / somebody makes a decision to enter into sexual immorality—pornography or whatever. The average adult in the church would say, “Well, the pastor is not living the truth.” Why?  


Because to him: “If it’s true, it will work.” It’s not working: “Is it a problem of truth?” “No! You’re not living it.”

But this is the problem in the Christian home—the child will look at that and say, “Not true.” “What’s not true?” “Whatever the pastor teaches.” “Why?” “It doesn’t work.”

This is why hypocrisy today—used to question the hypocrite / now, it questions truth because, if a dad is a hypocrite in a home today—he does one thing at church on Sunday and not  the rest of the time at home—the kid will look at the father and he processes, “It’s not true.” “What?” “Whatever my dad believes.” “Why?” “It doesn’t work!”

This is why hypocrisy today has ten times the impact it used to have because, now, it reflects on truth itself.

Bob: You made an observation earlier when we were talking about this that I think would be good for our listeners to hear. You were saying most people do not move away from the anchor of the biblical faith because they are persuaded, intellectually, away.


You said most of them rearrange their intellect because they’re persuaded, morally, in a different direction.

Josh: I learned that over—I don’t know how many years—1,260 universities I’ve lectured at—almost every time I ever met a professor / a grad student, even, who’s adamant against Christianity—just attack Christians / would ridicule me when I’d come to the campus. I can say, almost 100 percent of the time, when I was able to spend time with that person, they did not have an intellectual question; they had a moral problem.

Dennis: Yes.

Josh: They had a moral problem with it. Now, here’s the key: “But Josh, what do you do? What do we teach our children?”

I refuse to ever teach my children to be tolerant because I believe you diminish the value of a person. I raised my children to be loving. When you love someone, you attribute value to their life in the image of God—value, dignity, worth. When you tolerate someone, you diminish them because you’re saying: “It doesn’t matter what you believe. Everything is true.”


When you love someone, you acknowledge who they are as a person. So I raised my children to be loving.

You know, it’s interesting—in Psalm 89:14—this ought to be the clamoring bell / it says: “Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.” I raised my children to be loving and to love truth. This is why, in the New Testament—boy, this is so powerful!—“Teach the truth in love.”

You see, all the way through, it is love and truth, love and truth, love and truth. There’s a tremendous connection there. The thing is—the love there / “Teach the truth in love,”—the love doesn’t make it true. You could teach truth in hatred and it’s still true, but nobody will want it!

Bob: Yes.

Josh: What love does—is fertilize the ground to receive the truth.


This is why we have to be so careful of our attitudes with our own children—everything—and show compassion for the individual.

You know, the woman who launched Roe v. Wade—

Dennis: Right.

Josh: —you know, she became a believer.

Bob: Right.

Josh: You know why? Because the director of Operation Rescue—who had condemned her for a lot of years, and everything else—criticized her / everything— switched and started to love her as an individual. That brought her to Christ. You see, he was still saying the same truth to her, but he was doing the truth in love. She responded to that. This is how we must raise our children.

Bob: I think it’s—we have to have a fundamental paradigm shift in how we’re thinking about what’s real and what’s true. It’s really in your book, The Beauty of Intolerance. Let me say that again: The Beauty of Intolerance.


You’re coaching us on how to cultivate a new way of thinking about love, and truth, and tolerance, and intolerance. We have your book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. I’d just encourage our listeners to go to if they’d like to order a copy, or they can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and request a copy over the phone. Again, the website is; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Ask about the book, The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love.

Dennis: And I’ll tell you, Bob—the reason this book is going to be so valuable to parents, as you raise a child today—maybe they’re a bit younger right now / they’re not hitting some of these issues—but you will clash with the culture. It’s coming at us, and it’s coming at us in fresh ways. I mean, everything from a child asking his or her parents to dress in a rainbow to celebrate some kid, who has come out at school—who’s declared he’s gay—that’s going to force the parent to make a decision.


How do you do this thing called “life” in this culture? Love people compassionately, show your concern for them, but respect the truth of God’s Word.

Josh: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar; render unto God what belongs to God.” Your taxes / everything else—you render unto Caesar. When it comes to your morality, you render it unto God. When they were in prison in Acts and they said, “We forbid you to speak out in God’s name—to be silent!” they said, “We must obey God rather than men,” and they paid a price for it.

We need to raise our children with that stamina—to render unto Caesar / I have a whole chapter on it—and render unto God what is God’s.

But you know, when you would talk about the book,—it’s worth calling / getting that book for just one chapter on “What we teach our children?” I call it the four “Cs”—I developed this when I did the Right from Wrong campaign.


You train your children the four “Cs” in any situation—one, “Consider the choice: ‘What is the choice here?’” Second: “Compare it to God / His very nature.” Third: “Commit to God’s way.” Fourth: “Count on God’s blessing for doing the right thing.” The four “Cs”—I raised my children: consider, compare, commit, and count.

Dennis: I feel like we’ve been in a locker room, Bob. [Laughter]

Bob: The coach—

Dennis: We’ve been in a locker room, getting ready to go out on the floor and play the game; alright? So tighten up your shoelaces, get Josh and Sean’s new book, and get busy equipping the next generation to be in the game as well.

Bob: Yes. Again, the title of the book is The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love. There’s a companion study guide that goes with the book as well. We have both in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.


Go online at to order a copy of The Beauty of Intolerance by Josh and Sean McDowell. Again, the website,; or you can call to order the resources. Our toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

You have to think that a subject like we’ve talked about today—it has to resonate with a lot of moms and dads; wouldn’t you think?

Dennis: I would think. In fact, it’s why FamilyLife Today exists, Bob. We’re here to help equip you in life’s most important commitments—your commitment to God, your commitment to your spouse, and training the next generation.

Bob, as you know, this month is an important month for us. We’re trying to finish this month strong. We’re running a little behind in terms of the number of donors that we’ve had over the last seven months. I’m just coming to you, as a listener, saying: “Have you benefitted in your relationship with Christ, your spouse, your kids?


“Would you consider making a donation? We don’t want to take anything away from your church that you attend locally, but we would like to challenge you to help a broadcast like FamilyLife Today stay on the air and continue standing strong for biblical truth applied in your marriage and family.”

Bob: We do want to say, “Thank you,” to those who have supported us this year. We appreciate our Legacy Partners and those of you who, from time to time, will make a donation. It’s your support that keeps this ministry functioning; and if you’ve not made a donation this year, it’s easy to do. You can go to—make a donation online—or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation over the phone. If you’d prefer to mail your donation to us, our address is FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.


Dennis: And let me just also add my “Thank you,” to all of our Legacy Partners for standing with us. You keep us coming on strong. Thank you for being on the team.

Bob: Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about probably the area where tolerance is most hotly debated today. It’s when it comes to LGBT issues. We’ll talk about that with Josh McDowell tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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