The Bane of Open-Mindedness

        The law of the Lord is perfect,
        reviving the soul;
        the testimony of the Lord is sure,
        making wise the simple (Psa 19.7)

The Hebrew word translated “simple” in this verse comes from a root that describes an open door. The Old Testament saints viewed a simple-minded person as having an open door in the intellect. Did you ever hear somebody say, “I’m open-minded”? An Old Testament Jew would say, “Close it.” In their way of thinking, a simpleton was someone who was literally open-minded – unable to keep anything in or out. The same Hebrew term is used often in the Proverbs to identify the naive person, the undiscerning, nondiscriminating, inexperienced, and uninformed fool. According to the psalmist, then, Scripture – the sure, reliable, trustworthy, unwavering testimony from God about Himself – comes to the one who is simple and makes that one wise. (John MacArthur, Counseling, 207).

Comments 5

  1. if by “open-minded”, one means being receptive to and willing to consider new and different ideas and the opinions of others (dictionary.com) then i would agree that it is a virtue. to be totally close-minded in this sense is to be arrogant and to refuse to change and grow.

    but if by “open-minded”, one means always considering any idea or opinion as potentially true or valid no matter the idea or opinion then i don’t think it is virtuous. this person is “naive, undiscerning, nondiscriminating, inexperienced, and uninformed.”
    his mind is so open that his brain has fallen out.

    interestingly, dictionary.com defines “close-minded” as “intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others.” now, THAT is a loaded definition in this 21st century. what do you think that definition means???

    does close-minded = intolerant?

  2. Chesterton put it well: “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” (Autobiography. Collected Works Vol. 16, p. 212)

  3. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines open-minded as “receptive to arguments or ideas” and oddly enough doesn’t have an entry for close- or closed-minded.

    I think that the MW definition above is fine, and in fact virtuous. The problem comes when open-mindedness is interpreted as acceptance and even approval and the unwillingness to disagree. Tolerance is a related concept. But the real meaning of tolerance doesn’t mean that I approve and accept everything that is said or done. Tolerance merely means that we can disagree and I’m civilized enough not to kill you over it (Rick’s definition).

    In the truest sense of the word, I hope that I am open-minded; that is, I hope that I’m always willing to listen to others, even when I disagree and I hope that I’m willing to consider other ideas and not assume that EVERYTHING I believe is ALWAYS right.

    Isn’t open-mindedness a biblical principle?
    “a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
           and a discerning man will obtain guidance—”
    (Prov 1:5 HCSB)

    “At the end of your life, you will lament
           when your physical body has been consumed,
           and you will say, “How I hated discipline,
           and how my heart despised correction.
           I didn’t obey my teachers
           or listen closely to my mentors.
           I was on the verge of complete ruin
           before the entire community.””
    (Prov 5:11-14 HCSB)

    “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
    (James 1:19 TNIV)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *