Thursday, June 17, 2010

Retiring the Term Open Minded

I leafed through a News Week magazine today and read the cover story on Sarah Palin’s evangelical following. The story itself is not what started the thinking that led me to writing this post. Near the end of the article the word “open minded” was used in the author claiming that evangelical Christians have not become open minded concerning abortion.

This post is not a post about abortion or Sarah Palin, but a post about the often misappropriated words “open minded.”

I looked up the definition of “open minded” on It means “having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.” It also means “unprejudiced; unbigoted; impartial.”

It would seem that this word is often misused. How is someone who is firmly against something less open minded than someone who is firmly for it? Is it not more accurate to say that both parties have a prejudice towards their way of thinking or else they wouldn’t hold to it so adamantly?

This seems to be a term thrown against those who have traditional values. Because the values are longstanding and traditional rather than new, hip, and revolutionary, the bearers of these values are seen as closed minded rather than open minded.

A person can be open minded and still be more wrong than a person who is close minded. The level of commitment to the idea has no bearing on whether it is true or not, thus such terms are not helpful or accurate.

I think it would be better to cease the use of such terms that only carry negative connotation and do not aid in accurately evaluating a value or idea as good, bad, valuable, useless, etc. To throw in words like “closed minded” or “open minded” creates a false perception that avoids the actual issue as to if something is sound wisdom or a harmful idea.

What do you think?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thoughts On Oil Spill

Reflecting on the current oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, I am reminded of how people want someone to blame. In the midst of a crisis and well after there will be much discussion of whose fault the crisis was and whose responsibility it was to prevent the crisis.

I do not think we have even begun to understand the magnitude of the current oil spill crisis nor its lasting effects. To see so many pictures of birds struggling for breath trapped in the oily mire makes me not want to turn on the news. However, my desire to not be ignorant of the unfolding tragedy and to try and find my roll in contributing to the solution compels me to watch.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how people are proclaiming a boycott against BP. We agreed this response could hurt the situation more. If BP does not have the money to pay to clean up this mess and provide relief for those who lost their livelihood, then this will become a further burden upon the victims and the taxpayers. The government is overburdened enough. It should be the responsibility of the business to clean up its mess and this requires a sufficient flow of funds.

I can’t even imagine what the executives of BP are going through trying to deal with such a large disaster with the public opinion railing against them every step of the way. It is not that the public doesn’t have a right to be outraged. It is just that any person or group of people with this kind of pressure and responsibility must have an enormous weight upon their shoulders with little hope of relief in sight.

I applaud the thousands of volunteers offering their assistance. It is frustrating for all to see that they are not yet being well utilized as no one has ever organized such a large clean up before. The legalities and red tape do not help the situation.

It is the duty of an organization, person, business, government, etc. to own up to its mistakes, but it is also the responsibility of the rest of us to forgive them and move beyond the blame casting to solutions. While more mistakes are sure to be made in a situation so mind boggling, we need to have an attitude of grace and look for ways that we can be part of the solution rather than adding to the problem.

We are not under the pressures that the leaders of BP and their consulting scientists are under. Most of us are not living in the areas damaged by the oil spill and are not standing looking out at the devastation knowing America awaits them to do something about it. The loss of life, jobs, and wildlife weighs upon them as what may be the greatest ecological disaster in the world continues to grow as they struggle to find solutions.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's All About Jesus

I just read an article on by an atheist on the topic of how atheists view apologetics. I agreed with the writer’s assessment for the most part of the failure of at least the majority of what is classified as apologetics.

Apologetics is typically a method of addressing philosophies and religions of the world from a Christian perspective with an attempt to overcome the arguments with Christian arguments. One of the good things about Christian apologetics is that it shows that Christianity is open to being challenged and has thinkers who want to address the challenge. Instead of meeting someone’s questions with violence or condemnation, we meet them with reason and explanation.

This is not to say that you will not find Christians ill equipped to give any reason for what they believe and emotionally angry and unreceptive to any criticism. This certainly happens way too often. Some will act like the questioner has mocked or blasphemed their God just by asking an honest question.

However, I am trying to think of another belief system that utilizes a philosophical defense such as apologetics. The only one that comes to mind really is atheism. I know atheists don’t call their philosophy “belief.” The point is atheists have many books and teaching DVD’s giving reasons for why they are atheists. I can’t think of any group outside of Christians and Atheists who do this on any kind of large scale.

On one hand I think being able to give an answer about what a person maintains as truth is very important and thus this is a good reason for apologetics no matter what philosophy is being presented.

The term “apologetics” comes from the Greek word “apologia” meaning to give a legal defense. This is why Socrates gave his famous Apology. He wasn’t saying he was sorry, he was giving a reasoned defense for his actions and beliefs. Thus, any person can give an “apology” for what they hold to be true and this is a good thing.

However, the problem that arises with Christian Apologetics is that Apologists often spend so much time defending doctrine and theology about God we often lose sight of the Person that doctrine and theology points to. If it is mere argument without the Presence of God filling the words, it really matters not.

“The fundamental truth about reality is truth about a Person,” wrote Alvin Plantinga is a book I am reading. I would revise that statement to “The fundamental truth about reality is the Person of Truth.” The truth isn’t that which is about the Person, but the Person Himself, who is known by the name of Jesus.

You can memorize every verse in the Bible and believe in your head every one of them, but it profits you nothing. The essence, the nature of Truth is not the Bible, but the one the Bible points to.

I could spend decades giving a description, and defense about the truth of Jesus and it have no consequence as it gives the illusion that people need only to know the right things in their mind rather than connect with the Right Being Himself. Apologetics has limits for it is not the way to Christ. It is a method of reasoning about Him, but is not the path to Him. The path to Him is Him. Nothing can substitute for that.

Ravi Zacharias, a well-known apologists/Christian thinker, says that his ministry is to clear away some of the confusion and cobwebs about Christianity so that intellectual arguments do not stand in the way of someone’s heart connecting with Jesus. But he makes no claims for apologetics being a substitute for the Spirit of God. The only way to Jesus is Jesus.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Substantive Faith

(This article is designed for a Christian audience, but all are welcome to read and consider the content. It's something I composed because I saw something this past week about the nature of faith that I did not understand before and this article comes from that revelation, so to speak, but it is the first time I transposed it from my heart and mind to "pen and paper.")

We were created for a Kingdom of faith and belief not of doubt and fear. It wasn’t that Adam and Eve needed to doubt Satan, it was that they needed to believe God. Satan was presenting a false reality, if they were living the true reality and believing accordingly, the deceptive offer would have been inconsequential in comparison. The thing that got them into trouble was doubting God, rather than, believing Satan. They could not have believed the lie, if they had not doubted the truth.

Christians are often conditioned to be skeptics rather than believers. We are fearfully skeptical of being susceptible to anything false—so much so that we live according to that fear reality instead of the true reality. More than fear of being taken in by a false religion, we fear being taken in by a false doctrine or a false prophet.

It is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. If we are living in a place of believing God and being led by His Spirit, His Spirit will witness to our spirit the truth in which we are to abide.

We ought to be able to see truth in all things in all forms because Satan cannot create anything, he can only distort what is already real. It’s like opening a clam and finding a pearl. It may need a little cleaning, but a real pearl is still there.

Bill Johnson often states that under the old covenant you touch a leper and you become unclean, but under the new covenant you touch a leper and the leper becomes clean. I think this principal holds true for other things as well. We can touch something false and the falsity will fall away to reveal the true glory of the thing.

Click here to read the full article at