"There is a time to be silent" (Proverbs 3:1a, 7b).

OPEN-MINDEDNESS

Steven Clark Goad

If I may begin with a personal reflection, one of my strongest assets is an open mind. I'll discuss an issue. I'll even listen to the other side. I'll readily admit that I hardly know everything about anything. So I deliberately and consciously leave space in my brain to learn from others. This is one reason I find The Examiner so challenging. It challenges me to rethink matters simply rather than listening to whatever party line I'm currently trusting in.

There is another side to this. Some have concluded my openness to be a dangerous weakness. It is assumed that those of us eager for dialogue, even with those with whom we are in disagreement, are somewhat gullible and easily led into heresy.

Consider this. Is it fair to completely and irrevocably close one's mind on any subject? If one does, isn't he implying that he is somehow infallibly correct, at least on that particular matter? And who of us would enjoy spending much time discussing an issue only to discover the person has a closed shop and is out to lunch?

Someone challenges, "Being open-minded implies that truth isn't absolute! It encourages dissension in the church! It will lead to all kinds of false doctrine!" Will it? Does it? We think not. If we all thought alike about every spiritual detail there'd be no need to study and learn and grow. Frankly, we are turned off by all those holy Joes who know it all and pontificate to anyone and everyone who will follow.

"Iron sharpens iron and so one man sharpens another," is how Solomon put it. We enjoy counterpoint, both on a personal level and in class discussion. Seems to me the person who demands we agree with his perfect understanding is closer to the edge than the ones he attempts to bully. Divine truth is absolute and attainable but our finite understanding of it is not absolute. We see through a glass darkly. Then someone asks, "Are you absolutely sure?" OUCH!

The disciples desired to reproach an exorcist. Jesus said, "Don't stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:50). Our mission is to take a message of joy and salvation to the lost, not convert all dissidents to our prejudices and traditions.