Is “open-minded Christian” an oxymoron?
Many believe that the Church has been producing closed-minded followers for millennia. The perception is that the Church’s mission is to receive people with questions, give them the answers, and then teach them to stop asking questions. Though some churches approach knowledge in this way, history shows another side to Christianity. For many, it was faith that propelled them into the world to learn all that they could. Faith taught them that one should explore areas such as astronomy, physics, biology, and the arts. There was an expectation that to learn something new, no matter its source, was to learn more about the God who created the world we inhabit.
This is not a thing of the past. There are many who still believe that asking questions and seeking knowledge are part of the journey of faith. John Polkinghorne, the scientist turned theologian, describes the rationale well when he said, “I'm a very passionate believer in the unity of knowledge. There is one world of reality - one world of our experience that we're seeking to describe.” Knowledge cannot be bifurcated into the “things of God” and the “things of the world.” There is only one world, and when we fully engage it, it becomes God’s classroom in which we learn, grow, and challenge old patterns of thinking. This may be why Jesus, when explaining the Scriptures to his disciples, “opened their minds to understand” (Luke 24:45). It takes an open-mind to grasp the things of God, so being an open-minded Christian is definitely not an oxymoron. It describes who we strive to be.