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Thursday, July 07, 2005

no such thing as an open mind

i've been utilizing a feature on google lately called the google alert. if you haven't yet tried this you should check it out. essentially it is a search engine that searches key words for you daily and then alerts you by email of its findings. i have been using it to search key words and phrases in websites and newspapers that pertain to missoula.

the other day it pointed me to the website of the montana freethinkers. the website is pretty interesting where a few people are posting thoughts on religion and philosophy and other topics. on the menu bar, however, is a list of several religions including "ex-christian."

i am about to go on a bit of a rant, which i normally don't do, but this website has a good bit of discussion about christianity. some of it i agree with and most of it i don't, but the insulting thing is that there is not a christian point-of-view. if we would have posted all about mormonism and what is wrong with it here at sld, we would have been hammered. in fact, i think we have shown about as open a mind as is possible towards the mormon position or any other position for that matter. we don't necessarily agree with all the comments left here from these various viewpoints, but we allow people to share their views. and, i know i speak for my fellow authors here that we genuinely want to know how others see the world, even if we don't agree with them.

what i am ranting about is that christians are always critiqued for being closed-minded. i don't disagree with the critique entirely, but i do disagree with this label coming from people who get to define what open-mindedness is in the first place...not to mention they label everyone who doesn't agree with them as closed-minded. doesn't their exclusion of anyone make them closed-minded as well?

i am not here to blast the montana freethinkers...i rather like a lot of what they are writing because it represents the opinions of a broad group of people (who are seeking spiritual things) about christianity and the church. many of their critiques should not be aimed at christianity, however, but at the church itself...but that is a whole other blog. what i am trying to say in this post is that there is no such thing as an open-mind. what would be the fun in the world if everyone had a so-called open mind? there would be no disagreement, no ethics, no debate, and no diversity.

everyone has some sort of value that they hold to that makes them right and others wrong and a certian value makes a person closed to a different value they don't agree with. people who don't believe in god think that christians are closed-minded (and they may be right in some respects) but atheists are also closed-minded because they are not open to the christian message.

but here's the rub. people are sinners and therefore will never be right about everything they believe in this life. john calvin said, "at best a man's theology is only 70% correct." calvin was one of the greatest theologians of all time and he said, "at best." therefore we need to realize that because of sin and the fact that we are human, we can't know or be right about everything. therefore, we need to have a certain amount of openness about things that we really need to be willing to change on. but we also need to be closed to things that are not in line with what is dogmatic truth. for christians we can be open about everything except what is written in the bible.

but what about you? what is your standard that keeps you from being open to the wrong things? everyone wants to be open-minded. but only a correctly closed mind can be open to what is actually true.


At 1:35 AM, July 08, 2005, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

Unfortunately, this is part of what comes with being a follower of Jesus Christ - unfair, unfounded criticism. I used to think that, eventually, it would end. But it doesn't. In fact, it gets worse the closer we walk with Him. My one nugget of comfort is the reality that I have not yet suffered to the point of shedding blood... seems I read that somewhere... (wink wink).

At 7:05 AM, July 08, 2005, Blogger CM said...

"for christians we can be open about everything except what is written in the bible."
Just a thought that I've been pondering for a while, it's easy to make statements about the fundermental truth of scripture, but I think it's also important to note that the bible most people read is a translation, and even the Gospel accounts translate Jesus's words. I'm not saying that we shouldn't hold the bible to be authorative, but that we should be aware that it is God's truth that has the authority, not our own interprtation.
I was discussing this with a friend of mine talking about the aproach of differnet denominations, and that often people see complex issues such as baptism styles or interprtations of scripture as "black and white", "Right or Wrong" issues.

At 7:48 AM, July 08, 2005, Blogger rs said...

That is such a good point CM. That was what I was trying to allude to with the statement by John Calvin about our theology only being 70% correct at best.

But the Bible is clear about a lot of things that are not debated among most evangelicals. One of them is the authority of the Bible, faith in Christ as the only source of salvation, etc. We cannot be open to change on some of these. But issues like baptism are secondary (it is a sign of salvation, not salvation itself) and thus less clear cut.

Thanks for your comments. Dandykatalog and CM, have either of you commented here before? Thanks for checking us out.

At 9:22 AM, July 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading this line "but only a correctly closed mind can be open to what is actually true", I wondered if you've ever read George Orwell's essays on language. He's the one who wrote about a totalitarian government in the novel "1984" that preached slogans like "War is Peace" and "Freedom is Slavery". Your definition of an "open mind" as one that is actually "correctly closed" would fit right in there.

At 10:30 AM, July 13, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

This is developing into an interesting (albeit belated) discussion. I think the real rub in all of this is: "who is the final authority for determining what we think?" Is it ourselves? Or is it someone else?

One of the great principles of the Reformation is the idea that Scripture (God speaking to us) really should carry the final say. At the heart of that conviction is a recognition that my own intellect is not only fallible, it's actually biased in my own favor.

Because I am a sinner who prefers my way to God's way, my conclusions will inevitably favor me (and since I'm halfway intelligent, I'm actually smart enough to dress my conclusions up in the garb of neutrality or even "othere-centeredness". And yet, at the heart of it, if I'm really honest, my thinking is always working to ensure the outcome I desire.

I think that's the closedness comes in - if I really want truth, I need to set _something_ as a higher standard than myself. And for the Christian, that's Scripture as a final authority.

At 9:44 PM, January 08, 2007, Blogger Big Sky Humanist said...

Justin and I would gladly add your blog link to our website if your open to it.
The Website is old and it looks like Justin the Webmaster has been too busy getting his third Masters Degree or PHD. I lost track.
Both of us started this site long ago and both of us have learned much during the years since. I have noticed for every website like ours there are thousands of Christian sites. And I don't remember seeing anything positive towards people like us in them either. And I thinks its mostly due to the the fact many really don't know anything about who we are. Suffering? Criticism? It goes both ways. Talk about being persecuted for ones views. Try being an outspoken athiest. We are the one last U.S. minority its perfectly ok to spurn, curse, spit on..... The gays have it better if I may say so.

I myself have gone off into a different direction. I have my own blog which is posted on the site.

If your from Montana your welcome.

Big Sky Humanist

At 11:02 AM, January 09, 2007, Blogger Christian said...

Hey Big Sky - thanks for taking the time to comment! We're glad you found our blog (how did you find it anyway?), and don't mind at all if you'd like to link to us.

As for Montana - yep, we live here in Missoula (having just spent 4 years sojourning in Philly). If you're anywhere near our neck of the woods, maybe we could get together over coffee sometime - I'd be very interested in hearing about your experiences that led you to embrace atheism. And I won't try to convert you or anything ;-)

THanks again for the comment - I'll go check out your blog.

At 9:48 AM, August 07, 2008, Blogger Raydancer said...

"You can have such an open mind that it is too porous to hold a conviction." A quote by George W. Crane, a self-described “overeducated farmer” and notable newspaper columnist.

I cannot count how many times I've heard or read the phrase "open mind" in conversations regarding religion. It's one of those phrases that seems meant to get under your skin. I don't have much to offer beyond that, but as a fellow Christian, I know where you're coming from.


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