"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Posted to: IMDB "Saved!" Message Board

A Christian writes about open-mindedness: It is a good thing from an individual standpoint. It's great to let everyone have their own opinions, but when it comes to personal beliefs you need to know that you are the only one who is right. There is only one right answer. Kill people because they don't believe what you do? Dumb. Let everyone's opinion and beliefs affect your own? That makes you a piece of silly putty and a tool letting anyone influence you. Compromising your beliefs so that you can have the title of "open-minded" wonderful person is quite ridiculous. Someone who say I am right and you are right and we are all gods, is someone who has no identity and no convictions about anything.

But how do you know that you are the one that is right? Inclusiveness does not always mean "compromising your beliefs". It means being aware that other people may have different beliefs than yours - and that they may have something useful to teach you.

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" - 1 Thes 5:21

It also means realising that often there is no "one right answer". Did Jesus ascend from Bethany as Luke claims (24:50-51) or Mount Olivet as it says in Acts (1:9-12)? Perhaps it was one then the other. Perhaps it was both - or neither. Perhaps it doesn't actually matter.

If you are going to hold onto beliefs which "cannot be compromised", is it not important to be sure that they are right? How do you know if you only take guidance from those who reject any possibility that they might be wrong?

Fundamentalism of all sorts does just that. The Communists did in Soviet Russia. The Nazis did it in Germany. Christian Fundamentalists openly admit to it:

"By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information." - Answers In Genesis, Statement of Faith. (D). 6

This allows them to completely ignore evidence which contradicts their own interpretation of the Bible.

The vast majority of academics, for example, say that there is overwhelming evidence that the Universe is billions of years old; and that life evolves through common descent; and that the Bible, while a remarkable book, is not an unbiased and wholly accurate history of ancient Israel. (See here for a host of references).

Yes we should have convictions. Yes we should struggle for what we think is right. But if we are not open and honest about the basis of our beliefs; if we lie to ourselves or to others about the evidence for or against what we stand for; then what good is that? How are we any better than the maniacs who believed that they would be rewarded in paradise with "great wealth and 72 virgins" for crashing passenger planes into the Twin Towers in the name of their God?

They thought that there was only one answer. They didn't compromise their beliefs. They knew that they were the ones who were right.


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