Monday, March 16, 2009

Open Minded or Closed Minded

I have noticed an interesting trend the last few years, which seems to have intensified in more recent months. The trend concerns people who consider themselves open minded but actually are quite close minded. Normally it begins with a conversation I initiate with someone about faith. The person I am trying to share with will indicate that they are not a Christian. Though they are not Christians, they do think of themselves as experts on how Christians think and feel. In each conversation they feel quite comfortable telling me how judgmental and narrow minded Christians are. In each case, I listened patiently to these people, in the hopes that they would see that I was an open minded Christian.

But the trend I have noticed is that when they finally quit telling me how they perceive the world, and I assume it is my turn to share my perspective; they quickly cut the conversation off. I find it interesting how these people who consider themselves to be so open minded are actually so close minded about hearing any view other than their own. They are happy to share their views. They are happy to tell me how they think I feel. But they are not willing to hear my own views. It is sad that these people not only are missing the joy of the Christian life, but they are so close minded about hearing others talk about that joy , that they have deceived themselves into believing they are something that they are not.

This is the world in which we live in. This is a world in which people talk about being open minded and tolerant, but in reality they are close minded and intolerant. This is the world we have created for our young people. I can’t help believing that it might not be too late to change that world and leave our kids something better.


  1. I believe you are right on with your observations. I pray that as the pendulum swings in the direction of "closed minded and intolerant", individuals will begin to see this for what it really is and we see a move in the opposite direction. It could be that "the western church" lost her love for Christ and in many ways, has become that hate filled and close minded entity that many describe.

    I believe God would have His church wake up, get our priorities right, and start planting the right seed with the right soil preparation with the heart... watering and caring toward the harvest God has promised.

  2. Obviously, you are correct in your assumption. This has been the case for quite a spell now. The kind of open-mindedness and tolerance we hear about in the media simply means - You must be open minded and tolerant to MY opinions and MY beliefs and if you differ, you are closed minded and intolerant. It is the politically correct way to shut ... Read MoreChristians or political conservatives up and make them look bad. This has worked because it is the tool of the media which only shows the side of the argument they agree with as rational, open minded and tolerant.

    We need some Apostle Paul's who will be willing to challenge these world views with the truth of the gospel no matter what opposition they will certainly face. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced by the bias and intolerance of those who only want THEIR message heard. We were told to GO TELL. Never did Jesus tell us it would be EASY, POPULAR or WITHOUT OPPOSITION. No, He simply said GO and then promised He would GO WITH US!

    Dan Hunt

  3. Let me begin with a dictionary definition of tolerance, from Webster's New World Dictionary, third college edition: 1. a) a tolerating or being tolerant, esp. of views, beliefs, practices, etc. of others that differ from one's own b) freedom from bigotry or prejudice

    Now the definition as found the American Dictionary of The American Language, ... Read MoreNoah Webster 1828: The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring.

    Quite a difference in definitions, if you ask me.

    Terry, your story reminds me of Jesus. As he traveled he met many who did not want to hear what he had to say. Many who were opposed, in fact, to what he had to say. Yet, he never defended himself. Instead he kept pressing on...

    Maybe that is what we need to teach our young people. You must know what you believe and why and then press on! If tolerance means to endure then we need to learn and teach how to endure in the face of rejection, opposition and even violence.

    Paul Fries

  4. And it was onlly a few years ago that the definition of open minded and close minded was so simple. If you were open minded, it meant you were gay friendly. If you were closed minded, it meant you were a tyrannical bigot who hated all gays.

    Hershal Stickland

  5. When folks will not listen to my "telling" I revert to questions to help them clarify their own positions, openness, and hypocrisies. If they do not allow questions, game over.
    Hal Andre Bilbo

  6. The unregenerate mind will not stand for truth, nor indeed can it. It can be couched in all kinds of PC terms but dead is dead, no matter how people try to spice it up.

    We can surely expect those 'tolerant, enlightened' folks to be increasingly less tolerant of the truth as they are emboldened by social decay. And yet, we press on in a spirit of fear and trembling before the Holy God who can do more than kill the body. The gospel is the power of God for salvation and Christ is building His Church...even if the tolerant tyrants oppose it.

    Kevin Wolfe

  7. There is a SOLUTION that triggers a new way of thinking in people who call us "close-minded". I have tried this solution and it works!
    1. Ask the person if he practices forgiveness toward people? (You know, "Love your neighbor...")
    2. Then ask the person if he would consider forgiving the people he is critical of, that he has labelled "close-minded".
    3. Then direct the conversation toward your own most recent need to forgive someone who had differed with you, offended you, hurt you. Openly confess how you had reacted in an unforgiving way and had then gone home and dwelled on the incident.
    4. Then "go off" in absolute ECSTASY about the joy that comes from forgiving people.

    Joan O Connor

  8. I've had experiences where I get cut off every time I try to reach the point to my point of view, and then I'm forced to sit and listen to the person who cut me off and won't allow me a word in edgewise. They like to think that their viewpoints are the only thing that matter, and if yours disagrees with theirs or vice versa, they act as if they can't stand to be in the same room with you because you're not "one of them." What's even more frustrating is when you can't get anyone to understand you because you were cut off before you were able to finish talking, then you're made to feel bad about disagreeing with them and become afraid to state your opinions further because you might be condemned for "not knowing the truth." You also try to avoid a confratation and of being somehow "disfellowshipped" from the group. For an example, during one of the Kinship meetings I attended one evening last year, I tried to tell my group, all of whom were supposed to be my friends and help me out in times of need, by the way, about the poor relationship that I have with my dad, my concern for his salvation, and what it was really like living with him here at home. Well, guess what? Not a single soul in that room would let me finish talking or would even try to understand what I was trying to say. Instead, I ended up feeling sorry I brought it up in the first place, and I was pretty angry and frustrated for awhile after that. And although the incident has long since been forgiven, and there was no backlash from my dad, I still feel very wary and totally disillusioned both by the church and by the people I thought were my friends. So, yes, I would most definitely say that a lot of Christians are very close-minded to the truth, especially when they know and like your dad and start berating you for making a cry for help that obviously went totally ignored and unanswered.

  9. Don't confuse patience and openness. Just because you are clearly more patient than the folks you describe does not mean that you are more open. There is a difference. What would matter more to your openness arguement is *what* you were about to share with your reluctant conversationalist, not *that* you were going to share. It's possible that your "friend" has had several run-ins with patient AND closed-minded people, and was reluctant to get lured into a similar enlongated and frustrating conversation -- trying to share rational points with an irrational, yet kind and talkative, person. Such a conversation does require incredible patience and tact. There is a challenge to get the benefit of the doubt, and I think you are right that continued patience is the key. But instead of judging those folks as closed-minded, how about giving them the benefit of the doubt and understanding where they might be coming from.