Today‘s title seems confusing, if not downright self-contradictory. Statism appears almost the opposite of toleration. The state is an agent of coercion. If you disobey the state, its agents can throw you in jail or even kill you. This isn’t toleration.
Nor is this intolerance illegitimate. According to Romans 13, the state (the civil minister) “bears the sword.” The state coercively suppresses certain specific expressions of public evil in order to protect its law-abiding citizens. We sometimes speak of state-sponsored terrorism, as in the case of Afghanistan or North Korea; but according to the Bible, the state is a terrorist, and a valid one. It’s a terror to evildoers:
For [political] rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Rom. 13:3, 4, emphases supplied)
Because the state enjoys this legitimate monopoly on violence, its authority must be severely limited. It’s permitted to suppress only a few evils. The vast majority of sins are not crimes, but a narrow range of sins can and must be punished by the state, coercively and if necessary even violently: murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, battery, theft, fraud, and so forth.
The state is a terrorist and, when it operates within its biblically prescribed limits, we had better be thankful it is. When a maniacal sniper is picking off women and children from a downtown rooftop, we long for the terrorism the state can inflict to halt him in his tracks.