Hey, I've got nothing wrong with celebrating the differences, I'd encourage it actually. I do value the variety of faith traditions that are offered, the spice of the religious life, as it were.
Bravo. And I mean that with all sincerity.
But recognizing that the values held in another religion are worthwhile, and jumping to the conclusion that that religion can lead to eternal life, is a vast difference.
Point taken. But consider - what makes a faith tradition worthwhile, if not for the spiritual path? If some faith tradition cannot lead to eternal life (enlightenment, nirvana, what have you), the tradition does not seem to be worthwhile apart from social cohesion.
If the values of the tradition are worthwhile, why would the tradition not be capable of producing spiritual realization?
You caution against sweeping generalizations, but the suggestion here is that anyone who doesn't agree that other religions can lead to eternal life is being intolerant. If that isn't a sweeping generalization, then I don't know what is.
The word tolerance has a meaning. To say another faith tradition can lead to eternal life is more tolerant of that faith tradition than to say of that tradition that it cannot lead to eternal life.
You might not be intolerant in the way a Nazi is intolerant (I'd be one to back you up on that), but to hold that a certain faith tradition is incapable of leading to eternal life is, by definition, less tolerant than the belief that a certain faith tradition is capable of leading to eternal life.
And you can't put "acceptance of the value of other faith traditions" and "other religions can lead to eternal life" on the same pedestal. I recognize fully the value of other faith traditions, and I don't knock anyone for what they believe. But if my faith requires a certain belief to be prerequisite to eternal life, and a lot of faith traditions have such a requirement, then I recognize that when another religion does not require the prerequisite belief that this religion cannot possibly, according to my faith tradition, lead to eternal life. So because I take a stand in defense of my faith tradition I am labelled intolerant.
And I would argue that doctrine which makes certain requirements for eternal life that exclude other faith traditions are relatively intolerant doctrines - more intolerant that doctrines which do not exclude other faith traditions from leading to eternal life.
Not to say that intolerant means incorrect - it may be that such an intolerant doctrine is correct. I would argue otherwise, but being relatively more or less tolerant does not necessarily relate to being correct, or valuable.
I guess that's the other side of the coin - it wouldn't be very tolerant to say 'faith traditions which, in their scheme, exclude other faith traditions from leading to eternal life are faith traditions which cannot lead to eternal life'. At least not as tolerant as the stance 'all faith traditions can lead to eternal life'.
Basically, tolerance is a relative issue - tolerant as compared to what.
Or I could lie about it, I could candy-coat it, and say what society wants me to say. No thank you, call me intolerant if you wish, but now you're the one being ignorant of the issue.
It is ignorant to suggest that those who favor the tolerance of other faith traditions only do so because society expects such, or that they promote tolerance as a way to 'candy-coat' something.
I'd prefer you were honest about your views - and so I'm glad to hear that you are. If it makes you feel any better, while I'd like to think of myself as tolerant, I notice I often have an intolerant attitude towards a variety of people who do not deserve that attitude. We're all guilty of intolerance at some time or another. Not to mention the fact that, while I think all faith traditions are capable of producing spiritual realization, I think some manifestations of those traditions are not because I see their methods and doctrine as being absolutely opposed to good spiritual guidance - for example, a Christian sect that demands literal interpretation of the Bible. I have no problem with their decision to worship as they see fit, it's their business, but I'm deeply skeptical of the value of such doctrine and worry that such doctrine is actually counter productive.