Loving our neighbor with an open mind (because we love the truth)

It can be said that we must be open-minded in relation to our neighbor and what they believe, even if radically contrary to what we believe, and even if they perceive us as enemies. It is love to consider them, and to take them seriously, trying to know them and love them as Jesus commands. As Jason Baehr says, it is essential to Christian love to be open to giving serious attention to the beliefs of those that disagree with us (it is arrogance to do otherwise):

“What does such ‘enemy love’ require of us? While I cannot pursue this question in depth, surely it involves respecting and giving serious consideration to our enemies’ beliefs – and particularly to those beliefs that really ‘matter’ to them. If I feed and clothe my neighbor or enemy, but ignore, distort, or otherwise fail to ‘take seriously’ his deeply held beliefs, then surely I fail to embody the kind of love that Jesus commands.”[1]

Our ideal: As those who claim to love the truth, we above all people should have an interest and intention to see and understand things in accordance to reality, what they actually are. It is wisdom to understand things as they are, not as we wish, imagine, or insist, contrary to reality or the facts. We also, as those who claim to know the truth, out of love for others, must be prepared to have sufficient evidence and reason for what we believe, and not just claim to have it. Nor, do we ask others to “just believe” and not ask questions or raise objections. That is, we must be willing to follow the proper laws of logic, non-contradiction, and so-on, in order to humbly acknowledge our fallibility and willingness to adjust beliefs when found to be in error or incomplete. This is not to say we just hold a tentative, loose grip on the truth received in the Scripture as gospel truth. It is because we hold firmly to the truth of the gospel that we are able to examine honestly all counter-claims to it, as well as internal conflicts among those who embrace it. That is, we do not just hold loosely, or tentatively, the truths of the gospel while trying to be open-minded to other claims or objections. Rather we examine those through the gospel and examine them in light of the Scripture.

Being open-minded in this sense is therefore characterized by the traits of curiosity, compassion, charitableness, honesty, generosity, teachability, graciousness, and empathy. These must all be guided by a rational, logical, truthful effort to know and communicate the truth in love. It is often said that when we speak truth, if it is disagreeable to others, or they find it offensive, that we are not loving, or that we do not love, when in reality we seek and speak the truth because we love and want to share the joys of knowing the truth about reality, and the One who made it.

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“Whatever its more detailed features, open-mindedness has something to do with how we respond to other’s beliefs, and typically at least, to beliefs or ideas that conflict with our own. An open-minded person does not cling blindly to her beliefs in the face of challenges or counter-evidence to them. She is not dismissive of beliefs or positions with which she disagrees. Nor does she shy away from rational dialogue or engagement with people who believe differently from her.”[2]

“Learning is far more than a task or a responsibility. It also changes us. It fulfills our innate (that is, God-given) curiosity about the world. It is a way of increasing our sense of what life holds, therefore inspiring us to create. Learning heightens our ability to understand and sympathize. It broadens our perspective. It makes us richer, more mature people.”[3]

“Real learning is the path to humility, trust, and faith. It can only be faithful learning and the learning of faith that directs us in the world. And this will reveal itself in our work.”[4]

“The whole process of curiosity, questioning, and discovery can be a journey, full of wonder and praise, into the mind of God, who created everything. Whatever can be studied, whether human nature or the physical universe, is what it is because God willed it and made it. To uncover the hidden laws that govern matter, to disclose the patterns of subatomic particles, to discover how human beings grow and interact, to discern an underlying pattern in history or in astronomy–all of these amount to nothing less than discovering God’s will. Just as God is inexhaustible, knowledge is inexhaustible. Our curiosity and understanding can never be fully satisfied in our earthly lives. As thirst is evidence for water, our yearning for knowledge points to Heaven, in which all desires will be fully satisfied.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).[5]

“The delight of learning, which impels people to study God’s works more and more deeply, is really finding pleasure in God.[6]


[1] Baehr, “Open Mindedness,” Being Good, p. 43.

[2] Baehr, “Open Mindedness,” Being Good, p. 31.

[3] Marshall, Heaven is Not my Home, p. 68.

[4] Marshall, Heaven is Not my Home, p. 68.

[5] Veith, Loving God With All Your Mind, p. 151.

[6] Veith, Loving God With All Your Mind, p. 152.

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