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Feedback archiveFeedback 2014

Should we be open-minded?

Published: 25 May 2014 (GMT+10)

Danyl M., U.S., wrote in response to Gary Bates’ article Thinking ‘upside-down’! Lita Cosner replies below.

wikipedia.org open-minded
I’d like to make some points clear about my beliefs. I read the article on the ‘Good News,’ and it spoke of the ‘alternative’ for anyone who ‘spurns,’ (to ‘scornfully reject.’)The thing is, I don’t. I always take open mindedness to be a virtue. I was only a pious christian when 7 years old during my 1st communion classes, half my lifetime ago. But that was based on blind faith and the fact I was mostly unaware of anything else. I in no way deliberately deny Christianity, I just never was attatched to it or understood it (I am curious about Christianity for the sake of understanding though.) I would like to apologize on the behalf of the 1,000,000,000+ Muslims for any atrocities we may have committed against you; as that was hirbah. My entire family is Catholic (Irish and Filipino,) I being one of a few exceptions. Though none are pronounced atheists to my knowledge; despite my family being moderately religious, I am surrounded by Christians. Even the girl who proved me wrong and showed to me that love at first sight does exist, was a Catholic who wore a St. Benedict medal every day and was the friendliest person I’ve ever known. My late grandmother was the only person in my family that I know is more pious than myself and devoted herself to God, building a retreat house along with a Church on her own property and funded an orphanage. Regardless of what few Muslims might claim, she was a wonderful person with her heart in the right place and deserves eternal peace. With the PalestineIsrael conflict, I have heard the phrase "Bridges not walls!" appear many times. All I wish is to come to an understanding with the world and how it works and Islam is what I’ve choosen. It has motivated me to become a better person: more friendly, pious, wise, motivated, and open.

Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:

Dear Danyl,

Anyone who hears the Gospel message, and thinks, “That’s all right, I think there’s a better way for me to be saved,” scorns the Gospel regardless of whether they do it out of ‘open-mindedness’ or overt hatred of God.

You are probably correct that you were never attached to Christianity in the sense of saving faith; simply adhering to sacraments or attending church services won’t save you, if you don’t believe in Jesus.

I wonder if your adherence to Islam might be much the same as your former professed adherence to Christianity. It is a bit disingenuous to apologize for something someone else did, if I may be frank, especially when they were probably happy they did it and thought it contributed to their standing in Allah’s sight. And since no Muslim has wronged me personally, it would be just as disingenuous of me to accept your apology.

Your open-mindedness, far from being a virtue, removes the possibility of honest debate. That’s because you just disavow the nasty parts of Islam, like dhimi and the sword, and adhere to whatever you like in the Qur’an. In reality, you end up making your own religion perhaps inspired by the Qur’an. But that does not respect the message or intent of the Qur’an, any more than a person who thinks Jesus had some nice moral truisms in His sermons and quotes the Bible when it suits him honors the Bible. I don’t care if you respect the message of the Qur’an; I certainly don’t—I think it’s a terrible book that has no aesthetic or moral value, and that has contributed to the death of millions of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and also deplorable treatment of women as some lesser beings or chattels (contrasting with the Bible’s view that all people are made in the image of God and therefore equal in His sight). Even worse, it enslaves millions more in a false religion that cannot save them. But you should at least be honest about what you really are. You’re no more a Muslim than I am.

If you want to come to a better understanding of the world, then you should read the Bible—it will tell you about the world’s origins, history, and destiny. And it will tell you how God has intervened in the world events of civilization to bring about His plan of salvation.

One can only be open-minded about things that don’t really matter. I am very closed-minded when it comes to allowing drunk pilots to fly, for instance, because that’s a very real safety issue. I want to know the person in control of my flight is also in his right mind. It’s even more important to be certain (for one cannot be open-minded when one is really certain) about one’s eternal destiny. I urge you to read our Good News article.


Lita Cosner

Helpful Resources

Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
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Foolish Faith
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Readers’ comments

Sam C.
Good read. It was G. K. Chesterton who said that "an open mind, like an open mouth, does have a purpose: to close upon something solid. Otherwise, it could become like a city sewer, rejecting nothing.”

ross S.
"A bit disingenuous to apologize for what someone else has done"? Isn't that what we are doing by paying for the sins of Adam and Eve? Why should we suffer your gods wrath for the failings of those individuals? Even if it where true its shows the moral void your god displays and even by your own admission you seem to agree. And now for the apologetics....
Gary Bates
It actually displays your, perhaps willing ignorance of what the Bible actually teaches--in short, the Gospel. We are not guilty just because of what Adam and Eve have done. You and I are guilty because of what we are. It's part of our nature. If you profess there is no sin in you or that you are incapable of never doing anything wrong then you are in denial of what you are. And that itself would be a sin. Moreover, it's also not about the gravity or the seriousness of the offence you have committed, but who you have committed it against--a holy Creator God who owns the universe and, thus, you and me. You can rebel against that notion like any child rebelling against his/her parent, or you can accept that He has the right to say what happens with his Creation. It's interesting that you quote God and are seemingly angry with Him. Does that mean you believe He exists? If not, then why waste your time denying Him? Take a look around at the mess this world is in. Death and bloodshed surround us everywhere. This should cause all of us to question what is wrong. And the Bible demonstrates that there is an answer as to why it all went terribly wrong. I urge you not to caricature Christian beliefs. If you want to fairly criticize you should do so fairly by attempting to understand the Bible's big picture properly. Sorry to be blunt, but to criticize without fully understanding is a form of ignorance. Here's one article you could start with Understanding death.
Kris W.
I think that how the commenters and the authors of the letter and the feedback response define open-mindedness is very different from the definition one will find in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster.com defines "open–minded" as "willing to consider different ideas or opinions . . . receptive to arguments or ideas." Related synonyms are: "broad-minded, open, receptive." Related antonyms are: "narrow-minded, unreceptive." Other related words are: "impartial, neutral, objective, unbiased, unprejudiced; easygoing, nonjudgmental, tolerant; calm, detached, dispassionate; amenable, compliant; impressionable, suggestible, susceptible; persuadable, persuasive." And some near antonyms are: "biased, narrow, one-sided, partial, partisan, prejudiced; bigoted, intolerant." By this definition, if I saw evidence that a drunk pilot could fly safely and I evaluated it without bias or prejudice, and found it compelling (I grant you, this would have to be extremely compelling evidence), then I could reasonably agree that he should fly me to my destination. Note that two related words are "impartial" and "objective." Seems to me this is what open-mindedness is all about. I don't think it's about saying "my truth is just as vaiid as your truth, "I don't spurn your faith, so don't spurn mine." Open-mindedness is just being always willing to reconsider one's opinions upon the receipt of new evidence or reasoning.
Gary Bates
Fair comments. However, I think the term open mindedness when used in a religious context has a more specific meaning. If one does not profess a religious belief then one could be open minded in considering which religion might be more valid or relevant than others. However, to profess to be religious and then say one is open to other religious ideas is a bit of an illogical premise, because one could not have really decided that you had found the truth to start with.
Bob W.
Islam is a putrid religion that recruits followers with a sword and decapitates those who reject it. How Satan has blinded so many. Sad.
Wildee. R.
Imagination: Open-mindedness is thinking oneself wise. Reality: Getting caught by an oppressive religion because of remaining just another "infant tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people (i.e. false prophets) in their deceitful scheming" due to laziness and complacency about Christ and His claims. Solution: Wake up, repent and believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.
Narindra R.
Indeed, in my own experience, people claim to be "open-minded" out of intellectual laziness (a dire plague inhibiting any tentative of reasoned apologetics in my country). I often answer this kind of people that if they are so badly willing to try anything once, why don't they just try spaghetti with rat poison.
James H.
"My late grandmother was the only person in my family that I know is more pious than myself and devoted herself to God, building a retreat house along with a Church on her own property and funded an orphanage" mere *deeds*/works will not allow you to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven....you must have *a personal relationship* with the Creator of the Universe; viz: Jesus Christ..."except a man (or woman) be born again, he shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven"; you must know Jesus Christ as *a personal friend and advisor/counsellor*.....OTW, He will say to you on that fateful day which is coming, "I never knew you! Depart from Me, ye worker of iniquity!"
Amanda R.
Lita this is the second article I've read of yours where you've tackled an Islam-related topic. I must admit, I'm very encouraged by your straight-forwardness. I hate it when people tip-toe around others and try to be politically correct in order to not hurt feelings; you, however, call it as it is. You don't sugarcoat anything and take the Qu'ran straight on when you say things such as: 'I think it’s a terrible book that has no aesthetic or moral value'. Good on you. It is so great to be inspired by Christians who are not scared to take the proverbial bull by the horns. May God continue to bless you and the CMI ministry.
john P.
God wants all to be saved and as His children we should also have the same compassion for the lost, such as Danyl, who , if he does not wake up, repent, accept Jesus as his true Saviour and seek a personal relationship with Him, will be in for a terrible shock. Being pious etc does not make one a Christian- the Pharisees were pious, etc. As for the Koran/Qu,ran, which is built on a lie as Lita says, its followers can never know if they've done enough to save themselves. Consequently, there are is great harvest potential amongst these descendants of Ishmael and others following their religion, just as there is amongst their cousins, the Jews, and the Gentiles. The falling away is under way and the rapture, to be followed by the seven year tribulation period, is getting closer. It is not unlikely that within this century either the West, having ditched its Christian heritage, will descend into barbarism, OR the rapture will occur. While we know neither the day nor the hour, there are signs in Bible prophecy which are well worth keeping in mind.
Murk P.
Yeah - I fully concur that certainty entails what is called closed minded ness Lita - you articulated this well (I like the pilot analogy). Danyl - are you closed minded about your position that openmindedness is of greater importance than being closed minded?
David B.
A great response. This is the first time I have ever heard anyone state what I have always thought. I have been told many times that I am too strict and unyielding in my views concerning the bible. I admit that I am still learning, and always will be when it comes to understanding GOD's written word. But when it comes to understanding creation, the flood, Jesus being born of a virgin, Jesus "The Christ" (only begotten son of GOD), GOD's love for all of humanity, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the forgiveness of sins for all who will accept, trust and repent,well these things should never be open to questions, not at least, for the christian. To accept means to believe that GOD was, is, and always will be. To trust means to believe what GOD tells us. To repent means to stop doing those things which GOD has labeled as sin, refer to the Laws of GOD that were given to all people everywhere and don't confuse the Jewish laws with the laws given to all humanity. The Jewish people do have more requirements given to them than do the Gentiles.
We are in the age of denial the falling away of the church is well underway. We, as christians, must be ready to defend the faith, even with our very lives if necessary. "Dear Father, Please give us strength. Amen"
Love to all,
Jay Zeke M.
I am definitely going to use the drunk pilot quote in the future! As a side note, Lita, this is what I meant by my comment on the other article you wrote. I wasn't disagreeing with what you said, I just thought it was distracting from the original issue. Great response :) God bless you.
glen H.
Every religion/worldview (including atheism) contradicts the others at some fundamental level (hence, they are "different" worldviews). Therefore at most only one can be correct. It follows that to claim that being "open-minded" and accepting many or all religions as being equally valid is simply illogical and irrational.
Joel L.
While I understand the position of Mr. Bates, I have I think a rather unique concern about responding with this tack. Neither Bates nor I are Muslim. [EDITOR CORRECTION. Lita Cosner is the author who responds to Danyl M. in this particular article, not Gary Bates (who was the author of the article originally commented on: Thinking ‘upside-down’!)]. Therefore, we hold the central claim of the authorship of the Quran - the inspiration of it's authorship to be void. It therefore follows that we would NOT hold out expectation of a internal hermeneutical consistency; There IS no 'one clear voice' against which to measure any one interpretation or tradition of practice or belief - indeed, inconsistency with certain passages of text is north inevitable and hardly relevant to criticisms of kinda-sorta' Islam, as THERE IS NO ONE, TRUE ISLAM AGAINST WHICH TO MEASURE. So, one group preaches futwas and sends out suicide bombers, another prays in Turkey together with Christians and Jews, and a liberal American author claims it's perfectly consistent for her to be gay and follow the Quran - and all profess a book whose inspiration is a lie, with no true, consistent voice; Is one lie more lie truth than another? If the central claim of Islam is void, then it's entire corpus of history and tradition is exactly as held for Christianity by non-believing scholars and academics - what a person holds it to be for them, nothing more.

In which case - what is there to measure 'one person's Islam' AGAINST and dismiss it as a let's be honest - 'dishonest' compromise, besides inconsistent texts and a weight of history ultimately rooted in...nothing. Nothing more than this person's own 'Islam'. If Islam's rooted in nothing more than than human belief at a given point in time, then should't that be all it need be judged as for a given person? If they say 'That's what Islam truly is', then for them *shrug* that's Islam. For them. Shouldn't that be enough and sufficient, as disciples of grace?
Joseph M.
Danyl M states “I in no way deliberately deny Christianity … and Islam is what I’ve choosen …” Here he contradicts himself because he states that he doesn’t deny Christianity yet denies Christianity at the same time by choosing Islam! Contradictions makes a person double minded. A contradictory view is always the result of wrong thinking. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ demands objective truth. John 14:6 New International Version (NIV) “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
James 1:8 King James Version (KJV) “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” An open minded person is essentially subjective and objective truth is like a brick wall to their subjectivity. So the wall Danyl M is removing is an objective truth wall. Only by seeking objective truth a person can be better and being “better” is the same for all human beings living in every century, culture, and circumstances. Our Lord Jesus Christ must be objective truth because Hebrews 13:8 New International Version (NIV) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.

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