"I mean, I'll tell you what I believe, and why I believe it... but trust me, it's not the norm..."
- the cross movement
Warning: don't proceed without an open mind.
Hold on, let's discuss this term, "open-minded"... what does it mean? Does it mean that you believe everything you hear? Of course not. Then does it mean that when someone tells you what they believe, you say, I believe that too? Some would say yes, but that's only agreeing for fear of being called close-minded. The fact is that the world's major religions claim beliefs that contradict eachother -- so you can't believe in two of them, unless you don't really know what they stand for.
So, does open-minded mean that you say, "I believe this, but I think you're right for believing what you believe, too" ? This is probably the most popular one today. How you answer this depends on what you hold to be important: faith itself, or the object of the faith... in other words, believing, or what you believe in.
If you think that faith in and of itself is somehow "good", regardless of what it is you're believing in, then you should consider this more deeply. There are plenty of people in the world who truly believe that they should murder people, torture people, hate people. Are these things good? If it's good to "have faith" or "believe in something" just for the sake of it... if the act of believing is somehow inherently good... then yes, these things are good, if the person really believes they should do them.
That's the warped view that
says faith in itself is good.
Think about it... does it make sense that faith itself is good? Does the idea of "goodness" even apply to things like faith? Can things like faith, hope, or trust be good or bad, or does it depend on what you're believing in, hoping for, trusting in? If you trust your mom when she says "Don't touch that stove, it's hot," that's good... but what about trusting an umbrella to save you when you fall off a cliff? Not good. Really, trust itself can't be good or bad... only trusting in certain things can be good or bad.
So, the only logical response is that faith isn't good or bad; the object of your faith is good or bad. Most people would agree that murdering random people is bad, even though there are people who believe that it is good. If faith in and of itself isn't necessarily good, then "all faiths are good" isn't true and that's not what open-minded means.
I think the only sensible definition for open-mindedness is this: being willing to listen to someone else's ideas and beliefs, and tolerate their existence, even if you don't agree with them. I don't think it means saying, "I agree," or "I respect that," or "you're right for believing that"... unless you really do happen to agree, or believe that same thing. Because if someone believes something that's wrong according to your faith, then you obviously don't agree or respect it or think it's right. You think it's wrong, and there's nothing bad about thinking that someone else is wrong.
Now clearly, in some issues it's logical to say, "I believe this, but I think that what you believe is OK too." For instance, some people (like my brother) prefer to live in warm places like Florida, while others prefer to live in cold places like Canada (like my friend Jeremy). My brother wouldn't say that Jeremy's wrong for believing that Canada is a better place to live... because it's just a preference.
Some things aren't preferences, though. Some things we believe apply to all people. For example, if I believe it's wrong to drive 200mph on a public street, then I believe it's wrong to drive 200mph on a public street. I would not say, "I believe that, but I think it's OK if you want to drive 200mph, because hey, that's what you believe." That's not consistent. That's not a preference of mine. It's a belief that I believe applies to all people. And I think people who do drive 200mph down a street are wrong, because they are endangering other people. Is it bad for me to think those people are wrong?
Should I be more "open-minded,"
"It's OK to drive 200mph, if you think that's OK" ?
I don't think so.
So having said that, let me ask you to drop all your preconceptions for a minute and listen to what I believe.
I believe that there is one God, who created this universe and everything in it. I believe that this God created humanity in perfection, and gave humans the ability to make their own choices in everything. I believe that God did this out of love, because there is no love in forcing someone to do or think or believe something. I believe that man chose to disobey his perfect loving Creator, and as a result was separated from him, because God in his perfection couldn't commune with man's evil state. Outside of God's presence, man and his planet began to die. But our God wasn't happy with this situation, and he sent us his Son to save us, to bring us back to him. God is just, so he gave his Son as a free gift for all humanity. The only thing we have to do to be reunited with God is accept this free gift, which is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only one who can save us from eternal separation from God (death), because Jesus Christ was crucified but rose again, conquering death. If you want to be reunited with God (that is, spend eternity in heaven), then you have to accept what God has given you. If you don't want to be with God, then you can simply reject what he has given you. The choice is up to each person, whether to accept or reject Jesus. No one else, no church, no government, can offer you eternal life with God, and no one else can make the choice for you.
I believe all these things, because I believe that God has chosen to communicate with us through his Word in the Bible. Why do I believe the Bible? Because I don't see any way that forty different men, writing over several thousand years, could have all written about the same doctrines of grace in the same consistent ways with the same metaphors and figurative language... unless they were moved by God to write it. And what I have read in the Bible is amazingly applicable and helpful in my life.
I am a Christian, which puts me in the minority on this earth. People who are supposedly Christian constitute what people call the world's largest religion. But many people who claim to be Christian don't actually know what the term means. It means simply this: to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and trust in him alone to guide your life and save you from your sin. And the reason you believe that, is because you believe that God's Word is the final authority on all matters. This immediately disqualifies most Catholics (and many other "religious people") from being Christian, because they trust not God's Word nor faith in Jesus; instead, they trust the Catholic church's words and put their faith in Mary and the pope and "good works." If the Catholic church wasn't hiding God's truth from them, they would know that God has warned them to trust none other than Jesus Christ. (Compare God's word with the Catholic church's teachings. Catholicism says "follow the church" but God's word says "follow Jesus.") Sadly, over half of the world's "Christians" place their faith in the doctrines of churches rather than in the Word of God.
I believe that God has revealed the absolute truth for this world in the Bible. And if you don't believe that, I think you are wrong. I love you, and I don't think you're any worse of a person than I am. But I do believe that you are wrong. I believe that you need to trust in Christ and follow him, because if you reject him now, he will reject you when you stand before him at your death. I believe that God has spoken, and I don't think it's OK to disregard that and believe something else.
"Clearly, God either has to have told us something, or we are entitled to our own opinions. ... If we believe that God has spoken, then we have to find out where has he spoken. Then we have to trust, or reject, that he has laid a final word on issues."
"What it comes down to is, do you risk your eternal state of being on hoping that we're not going to be held accountable because 'Nobody really knew'?"
- the cross movement