SGBC Modesto

Are You Narrow Minded?

April 13, 2024 by

Johnnie Sloan

Have you ever heard any of the following criticisms or questions?

What makes you think you have the only right way of believing?  That is your interpretation of the Bible!  To each his own!  All roads lead home.  You are narrow-minded if you say there is only one way to Heaven or only one truth!  That is not for me.  Whatever works for you.

The premise these statements all have in common is the implication that narrow-mindedness is a vice and open-mindedness is a virtue.  There is this same sense in statements like, ‘There is truth in all religion’ and ‘I believe in God, just not necessarily the God of the Bible.’  There is hidden away in such thinking a pride in being open about such things. In the minds of some, open-mindedness is better than closed-mindedness in matters of faith.  This article is meant to both challenge that assumption and to suggest it is wrong to be open-minded in the arena of faith.  Namely, ‘being untied to any set of beliefs, one should remain open to all’ is a terrible line of thinking and even an ambiguous fallacy that carried out makes all endeavors meaningless.

This discussion is quite interesting because this supposed virtue of open-mindedness does not translate to all areas even in the freest thinking person.  For example it is not a virtue to be open-minded in a discussion of child pornography being legalized.  No one ever says publicly we should not be so narrow-minded about neighborhood crime.  After all, who am I to say my neighbor should not have his property stolen? Aren’t I being narrow-minded to think the thief should not have my neighbor’s tools?  In fact, it is very narrow-minded to think of my neighbor’s tools as only his!

Or how about the idea that in learning any subject in an attempt to be proficient we get more narrow-minded?  The more you study a particular subject, the narrower the understanding of it must be to grasp it.  I may be open-minded and think that all ways to play the game of chess are equally valid, but unless I play by the rules (very narrow rules mind you) and learn to play well (even narrower focus on advantageous methods), then I will not expect to do it well.  I’ll ask the reader plainly: Do you want a doctor to be open-minded about the prescription he writes you, or do you prefer he narrow it down to the medicine that fits your symptom?  Or what if a mechanic is open-minded and thinks that tightening all of your lug nuts is a very constricted practice and he prefers to avoid such rules for safety because they are narrow and stringent?  Would you hunt with someone who was not narrow-minded about the things they aim at when they shoot?  Would you drive with someone who was not narrow-minded about taking naps while behind the wheel?  Would you want your spouse to be open-minded about your relationship or do you prefer the narrow-mindedness of faithful companionship?

 I think the point is obvious.  Whenever something is to be done correctly, you must get narrow-minded about it.  Virtually every area of existence is governed by rules and conforms to reality.  You may be open-minded about gravity, but reality will make sure you fall if you jump from a great height.  Gravity is not open-minded at all!  You may be open-minded about crime and criminals, but likely you still lock your doors at night.  You may be open-minded about education, but probably expect your kids to get good grades (very narrow minded to think of an A or B only don’t you think?).  You may be open-minded about how much you ought to get paid for doing little or no work, but your boss may not oblige your free spirit.  You may appreciate a pilot who takes an open-minded approach to using his instruments, but you probably won’t get on his plane.  Every one of these ideas goes from open to narrow in scope.  Even the apostle says anyone hoping to win in athletics must compete “according to the rules.”  Rules are narrow!

This brings us to the thesis: It takes narrow-minded thinking to reach proficiency and a correct understanding of any and every subject.  Science, politics, medicine, vocation and even questions of truth all take a narrow-minded precision to understand correctly or fully.

It would seem that the fear in becoming narrow-minded in the field of truth or religion is not a love for openness at all, but a fear of accountability.  If there is truth the way the Bible claims, then for me to accept it means I am no longer free to do or think as I please.  This seems to get to the heart of the issue.  If Jesus is telling the truth that He is the only truth, then any other truth is not truth at all.  This means all of the things we may call truth that are in opposition to His truth (the Bible) are lies and we are liars – we do not like the sound of that!  So, what is our solution to the dilemma?  Open-mindedness!  This means we can dispense with anything, true or otherwise that confronts us in a way we do not prefer.  Even if it means we deny reality to obtain this false peace.  Fact is, very few people spend any mental energy at all in this area like they do to get proficient in all the others they work on.  Some folks are dismissive of seat belts too!

It is very easy to say I want to remain open-minded about religion.  It is very dangerous if what Christ said is true.  I do not know in a narrow sense how a life raft or a parachute work, but in a shipwreck or a plane malfunction I had better not feel comfortable with my open-minded ignorance if I want to survive!  You may feel quite comfortable thinking about God in an open-minded way, but I assure you, He has spoken on this and all subjects in a very narrow way.

The question for the reader is: are you open-minded or narrow-minded on this subject?  And you ought to know, there is no virtue in being open-minded on a subject that the Almighty is very narrow-minded about and on which He expects this from you.

If I tell a police officer that I feel the speed limit laws are too stringent and I have not taken the time to study motor safety, he will certainly not then say, “Oh, you seem to be very open-minded and feel no need to burden yourself with cumbersome laws… that is very virtuous, therefore I will not punish you with a narrow-minded ticket.”

This is a silly analogy about a not-so-silly situation that is coming one day for many.  Notice in the following the very open-minded words (look for ‘many’) of the ones who will be judged harshly and the very narrow words of the Judge:

Matthew 7:22-23  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  (23)  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Is it true that if you believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven and that the Bible contains the only ultimate truth, you are narrow minded?  Well, prepare for a shock.  The answer is a resounding YES!  But your narrow-mindedness is not a vice; it is a virtue because you have trusted and confessed the narrow-minded Christ (John 14:6).  If you have not narrowed your mind to trust the only sufficient Savior, you had better repent of open-mindedness and become narrow-minded very quickly.  If you have coasted along in thinking all roads lead home and truth is relative, read the Bible and get narrow-minded very quickly.  Further, it is certain that to serve the living God you must be narrow-minded.   If you hope to obtain eternal life there is only one path – and it is a narrow one.

Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  (14)  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.