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.


The Christian’s Intellectual Life by Gaebelein

No Christian, however pious, will ever grow intellectually if he feeds his mind on trash, on the third-rate; if he never on his own reads some hard books, listens to some great and profound music, or tries to converse seriously about difficult subjects.

Turning from these th41YWS2AoRbL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_ings to the greatest Book of all, let me ask, What is the place of the Bible in our lives? Have we the fortitude to maintain inviolate a daily time alone with the Word of God? One may be an intellectual person without the Bible, but one will never be a Christian intellectual without it.

Finally, we grow in intellect in the broadest and deepest sense as we submit ourselves to our teacher. And who is that? As Bishop Stephen F. Bayne, Jr., said in a semicentennial address at the Kent School, “God Is the Teacher.” In the Christian college — and herein lies the inestimable value of a committed Christian college — the living God is recognized as the source of all wisdom and excellence. And how does he teach? Let me say it reverently. God is not a progressive educator. He teaches us daily, as we pay the price of hard thinking. He teaches us through his Word. He teaches us through teachers who in turn are taught by him. He teaches us through the discipline of trial and disappointment and suffering, and through our successes too. But most of all he teaches us through our Lord Jesus Christ. When God teaches us, he is always saying in and through and above whatever we are studying and learning for ourselves, or, in the case of us teachers, what we are teaching others, “This is my beloved Son; hear him.”

The intellectual life at its highest and best is above all else a Christ-centered life. It means having the mind of the Lord Jesus. It has a goal, the magnificent, lofty goal, as Paul said, of “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Like the high priest of Israel who had written on the mitre over his forehead, “Holiness unto the Lord,” so the Christian student and scholar, dedicated the intellectual life, must have written over his mind, “Holiness unto the Lord,” as he seeks to ponder and dwell on the truth.”[1]

[1] Frank Gaebelein,”The Christian’s Intellectual Life,” A Varied Harvest, p. 97.

Christianity, Culture, Literacy, and Biblically Prophetic Perspectives

Christianity, Culture, Literacy, and Biblically Prophetic Perspectives

Cultural-LiteracyIn recent decades, there has been a widely chronicled rise of Evangelical interest and participation in cultural pursuits. This has been seen as a return from the wilderness of isolationism (or cultural separatism), typically blamed on what many pejoratively have labeled “Fundamentalism.” There are many academic, political, philosophical, social, and aesthetic examples of this resurgence, and welcome to those of us who are advocates of cultural engagement. Therefore, these brief comments are not intended as an academic rehearsal  of these examples, but rather some personal reflections on Christianity and culture in relation to that engagement and our own cultural literacy.

The question is, do we have any moral responsibility to seek such literacy?
See essay here: Christianity, Culture, and Literacytelevision_67345
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An Epidemic of Unreason and Nonsense

“For ordinary Americans, including those not naturally disposed toward the irrational, the menu of junk thought is as broad and accessible as its offerings of junk food. Junk thought is state of mind that is hard to avoid. Press the remote, point and click the mouse, open the newspaper, and the worlds of anti-rationalism open up.”[1]

[1] Jacoby, American Unreason, p. 212.

“There is no greater threat facing the true Church of Christ at this moment than the irrationalism that now controls our entire culture. Totalitarianism, guilty of tens of millions of murders, including those of millions of Christians, is to be feared, but not nearly so much as the idea that we do not and cannot know the truth. Hedonism, the popular philosophy of America, is not to be feared so much as the belief that logic–that “mere human logic,” to use the religious irrationalists’ own phrase–is futile. The attacks on truth, on revelation, on the intellect, and on logic are renewed daily. But note well: The misologists–the haters of logic–use logic to demonstrate the futility of using logic. The anti-intellectuals construct intricate intellectual arguments to prove the insufficiency of the intellect. The anti-theologians use the revealed Word of God to show that there can be no revealed Word of God–or that if there could, it would remain impenetrable darkness and Mystery to our finite minds.

Nonsense Has Come

Is it any wonder that the world is grasping at straws–the straws of experientialism, mysticism and drugs? After all, if people are told that the Bible contains insoluble mysteries, then is not a flight into mysticism to be expected? On what grounds can it be condemned? Certainly not on logical grounds or Biblical grounds, if logic is futile and the Bible unintelligible. Moreover, if it cannot be condemned on logical or Biblical grounds, it cannot be condemned at all. If people are going to have a religion of the mysterious, they will not adopt Christianity: They will have a genuine mystery religion. “Those who call for Nonsense,” C.S. Lewis once wrote, “will find that it comes.” And that is precisely what has happened. The popularity of Eastern mysticism, of drugs, and of religious experience is the logical consequence of the irrationalism of the twentieth century. There can and will be no Christian revival–and no reconstruction of society–unless and until the irrationalism of the age is totally repudiated by Christians.”[1]

[1] Robbins, Christ and Civilization, pp. 51-52.

The true loss of true authority: historical-illiteracy and illiteracy in biblical proportions

This is a morsel by David Lyle Jeffry that is worth digesting:

“A sharply accentuated disdain for prior history, almost Virgilian in its firmness, and, in America especially, determination to make the frontier and future history supplant it, goes hand in hand with an inherent distrust of the authority of the more distant past – eventually perhaps a disregard for any authority that is not both contemporary and ‘popular’. It is small wonder that, to the chagrin of their grandparents, North American evangelical congregations of this generation possess little more of biblical knowledge – that is, biblical history in the plainest sense – than they do of the secular history which, more notoriously, they have also forgotten. But is the biblical scholarship of today, for all of our preoccupation with the questions of biblical history, doing very much to offset this nearly incalculable loss of biblical history in the shared memory of the church? Or is it the case that both in the guild and in the church biblical scholarship is serving merely to abet the fading from memory and imagination alike of the actual content of biblical narrative? For the erasure or fading away from present Christian consciousness of centering memory – in all its richness of texture and narrative detail – constitutes a loss of authority for the biblical past far more devastating in its implications than the obscure dubieties of academics about this or that textual correspondence or correlation” (David Lyle Jeffrey, “(Pre) Figuration,” Behind the Text: History and Biblical Interpretation, ed. C. Bartholomew, C.S. Evans, Mary Healy, Murray Ray, Scripture and Hermeneutics Series [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003], p. 373).

Message to My Freshman Students by Keith Parsons

Students text messaging in classroom

One of our professors, Dr. Lepera, recently shared this from the Huffington Post:

Message to My Freshman Students

Keith M. Parsons: Philosopher, historian, author; Professor of Philosophy at University of Houston-Clear Lake

For the first time in many years I am teaching a freshman course, Introduction to Philosophy. The experience has been mostly good. I had been told that my freshman students would be apathetic, incurious, inattentive, unresponsive and frequently absent, and that they would exude an insufferable sense of entitlement. I am happy to say that this characterization was not true of most students. Still, some students are often absent, and others, even when present, are distracted or disengaged. Some have had to be cautioned that class is not their social hour and others reminded not to send text messages in class. I have had to tell these students that, unlike high school, they will not be sent to detention if they are found in the hall without a pass, and that they are free to leave if they are not interested. Actually, I doubt that the differences between high school and university have ever been adequately explained to them, so, on the first class day of next term, I will address my new freshmen as follows:

Welcome to higher education! If you want to be successful here you need to know a few things about how this place works. One of the main things you need to know is the difference between the instructors you will have here and those you had before. Let me take a few minutes to explain this to you.

First, I am your professor, not your teacher. There is a difference. Up to now your instruction has been in the hands of teachers, and a teacher’s job is to make sure that you learn. Teachers are evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes, generally as measured by standardized tests. If you don’t learn, then your teacher is blamed. However, things are very different for a university professor. It is no part of my job to make you learn. At university, learning is your job — and yours alone. My job is to lead you to the fountain of knowledge. Whether you drink deeply or only gargle is entirely up to you.

Your teachers were held responsible if you failed, and expected to show that they had tried hard to avoid that dreaded result. I am not held responsible for your failures. On the contrary, I get paid the same whether you get an “F” or an “A.” My dean will not call me in and ask how many conferences I had with your parents about your progress. Indeed, since you are now an adult, providing such information to your parents would be an illegal breach of privacy. Neither will I have to document how often I offered you tutoring or extra credit assignments. I have no obligation whatsoever to make sure that you pass or make any particular grade at all.

Secondly, universities are ancient and tend to do things the old-fashioned way. In high school your education was basically a test-preparation service. Your teachers were not allowed to teach, but were required to focus on preparing you for those all-important standardized tests. Though it galls ideologues, we university professors still enjoy a large degree of academic freedom. That means that the content and format of your courses is still mostly under your professor’s control, and the format will probably include a good bit of lecture, some discussion and little or no test preparation.

Lecture has come under attack recently. “Flipped learning” is the current buzz term among higher-education reformers. We old-fashioned chalk-and-talk professors are told that we need to stop being the “sage on the stage,” but should become the “guide on the side,” helping students develop their problem-solving skills. Lecture, we are told, is an ineffective strategy for reaching today’s young people, whose attention span is measured in nanoseconds. We should not foolishly expect them to listen to us, but instead cater to their conditioned craving for constant stimulation.

Hogwash. You need to learn to listen. The kind of listening you need to learn is not passive absorption, like watching TV; it is critical listening. Critical listening means that are not just hearing but thinking about what you are hearing. Critical listening questions and evaluates what is being said and seeks key concepts and unifying themes. Your high school curriculum would have served you better had it focused more on developing your listening skills rather than drilling you on test-taking.

Finally, when you go to a university, you are in a sense going to another country, one with a different culture and different values. I have come to realize that the biggest gap between you and me is a cultural difference. I have absorbed deeply the norms and values of an ancient academic culture and they are now a part of me. You, on the other hand, come to my classes fresh from a culture with different values, one that finds academic ways strange and hard to understand.

Take the issue of documentation. For an academic, there is something sacred about a citation. The proper citation of a source is a small tribute to the hard work, diligence, intelligence and integrity of someone dedicated enough to make a contribution to knowledge. For you, citations and bibliographies are pointless hoops to jump through and you often treat these requirements carelessly. Further, our differences on the issue of giving or taking proper credit accounts for the fact that you so seldom take plagiarism as seriously as I do.

If you want to know the biggest difference between you and your professor, it is probably this: You see university as a place where you get a credential. For your professor, a university is not primarily about credentialing. Your professor still harbors the traditional view that universities are about education. If your aim is to get a credential, then for you courses will be obstacles in your path. For your professor, a course is an opportunity for you to make your world richer and yourself stronger.

Posted: 05/14/2015 5:41 pm EDT



“The greater the protection afforded to particular interests, the greater the damage to the community as a whole, and to that extent the smaller the probability that single individuals gain thereby more than they lose.” Socialism, p. 229

“If history could prove and teach us anything, it would be that private ownership of the means of production is a necessary requisite of civilization and material well-being.” Socialism, p. 583