new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

The irony of an open mind

Every so often someone says to me, “I want you to read/watch this with an open mind”.

Usually it’s something that purports to tear out the very foundations of Christianity, and usually it’s got more holes than a Tetley tea-bag.

Yet this attribute of an open mind is held forth as some great virtue. Perhaps somewhere in the mists of time it was, but now it appears to be a refuge for those who don’t want to think for themselves, or who only want to think through half the issue. An open mind has become like an open bin – ready to accept any rubbish thrown its way.

The last thing I want to read or watch anything with is an open mind. I want to read or view everything with a critical mind – with all my faculties switched on, asking questions like, “Where did this come from? Why is he saying it? What agenda lies behind this? What evidence is there for it?”.

Of course it is equally unacceptable to come to things with a closed mind – the attitude of “I don’t care what evidence you have, what expertise you may enlist, I will believe what I believe in spite of it”.

The ironic thing is that often those who call for open-mindedness are fiercely close-minded to anything that calls into question their own viewpoint. The minute their conclusions are challenged with supported evidence they clam up and pull out the favoured defence of “You need to be more open-minded”.

It leaves you wondering, “What precisely are we to be open-minded to?”

We Irish are often guilty of these equal and opposite errors. We either throw off belief in anything to do with God, or we settle into an unquestioning blind faith. Both can be equally close-minded and both are equally dangerous.

Biblical Christianity can stand questioning; it can stand rigorous investigation. But to paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, “Christianity has not so much been investigated and found wanting, as it has been assumed wrong and left uninvestigated.” The apostle Paul calls us to “Test everything, hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).