One of the leading academics in the United States is Stanley Fish, who also writes an online column for the New York Times. In a recent interview Mr. Fish stated that he believes that no one can operate without faith, which he defines as “not specifically religious but as a set of assumptions which structure your consciousness and allow you to see what it is that you see, then you realize that it is impossible not to have your consciousness structured by a set of assumptions.” That is a bit hard to follow at first reading, but Fish goes on to elaborate as follows: “This is another way of saying that there’s no such thing as an open mind, and that’s a good thing. If you had an open mind, a mind not structured by presuppositions, it would have the characteristics of a sieve. Everything would just fall right through it. So I am an advocate of close-mindedness.”
Fish is right, of course; no one has a completely open mind, because we all have beliefs, convictions, ideas and preferences that frame our view of the world and how we perceive what goes on around us. That is the very definition of a worldview. The important thing is what shapes and influences and informs our worldview. Fish does not go so far as to specify what he believes that should be, and in fact declined when asked to describe his own faith. I will not be so timid, however. I believe, and unashamedly so, that one’s worldview must be informed by the Scriptures. Anything other than that will result in a flawed and necessarily self-centered worldview.
Why necessarily self-centered? Because if one’s worldview is not shaped by Scripture, and the conviction that there is one true God (and only one!) and that He created the universe and everything in it, then there are no absolutes and there is no higher power. Perhaps you have heard some people say that the only absolute is that there are no absolutes? Besides being self-contradicting that is one of the most ridiculous positions anyone could take (and if you would like to explore that discussion sometime, just let me know…I’d be happy to spend as much time as you like talking about that!) But anyone who tries to live their life by such a belief will necessarily pick and choose which things he or she believes and holds to based on what is most appealing, reasonable, convenient, and/or important to him or her. The most important part of that sentence, though, is the last four words: “to him or her.” When absolute truth is abandoned and everything becomes subjective, it necessarily becomes self-centered. I don’t mean to sound harsh or judgmental, there is simply no other basis on which someone will make a decision or establish a belief.
If you doubt that, try asking someone who does not have a biblical worldview or hold to absolute truth why he or she believes something. Anything…it really doesn’t matter. Just ask someone who fits that description why they believe as they do or practice what they do or live the way they do and the answer will almost certainly start with, “Because I…”. Whatever comes next is irrelevant; the point has been made. The filter, the basis, the foundation, the starting point will always be “I.”
When one acknowledges God and acknowledges that He is supreme and sovereign there is no longer an “I” in the picture. Someone who has a biblical worldview and answers the question posed in the previous paragraph will answer “because God…” or “because the Bible….” If “I” is in the answer at all it will likely be to say “because I believe the Bible.”
So next time someone tells you that you need to have an open mind, tell them “no thanks” and seize the opportunity to explain to them that they don’t have an open mind either. It’s simply a matter of what our close-mindedness is based on.