Any time there is a discussion among individuals in which there is disagreement, the value of the discussion is determined by whether or not both sides believe there is any kind of evidence, argumentation, or proof that could change their mind on their given belief. While it is often the case that people love to have their voices heard and their opinions known, it is far less frequent that people are actually willing to give serious consideration to the idea that they could be wrong.
However, there is one fundamental and devastating flaw to carrying the mentality that there is nothing that could be shown to you to change your mind: it proves that you are not interested in truth. You see, humans are prone to mistakes. They may be mistakes in logic, mistakes in actions, mistakes in information or any of a number of other types. If one refuses to admit the ability of his human understanding to be wrong, or of his own intuition to be misguided, then he has shown that he believes his knowledge to be perfect and incapable of mistake. In doing so, he has made it impossible to learn anything beyond what he currently thinks he knows. It is only through the acknowledgement that one could be mistaken that growth is possible.
There are many examples in Scripture of men who changed because they recognized their own fallibility, or repented because they made mistakes, even though they carried positions of authority. It is seen in the apostle Paul and his willingness to acknowledge his wrong direction (Acts 9). It is seen in Apollos’ willingness to be instructed by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18). It is also seen in the conviction of Peter before those in Antioch because of his mistake (Gal. 2). All of these, and many others, made the changes to their beliefs and actions because the evidence stood as proof they were wrong.
Now, before you begin thinking about all of those people in the religious world who have the gall to believe something different from you and not convert to your way of thinking, consider this: could it be you that has that mentality? I have found that members of the church are just as bad as the rest of the religious world when it comes to this approach to Biblical discussion. On innumerable occasions I have discussed things with brethren, sometimes things of great consequence and sometimes nothing more than nuances of Scripture, and have been dismayed at the response received. Instead of showing proof for what they profess, or giving proof to show what I have said is incorrect, they simply respond with a dismissive statement and move on. On other occasions they will quote some other preacher’s belief, as though just because some man believed it one way that should be enough proof for anyone.
Unfortunately, some people get confused about what it means to be willing to consider another person’s point of view or argumentation. It does not mean that you do not have conviction in your own beliefs; in fact, it means exactly the opposite. It shows that you can be even more convicted in your beliefs, you have been willing to put them to the test of truth and have the evidence that shows they have passed the test.
However, when one walks into Bible studies with the attitude that he already knows it all and he is going to show everyone else what truth is, he is no longer studying the Bible, he is dictating it. He will not carry on a conversation about anything, but instead becomes defensive, combative, and vehement. He does not ask questions, or query about what proof may be brought to bear, he begins to impugn the heart and character of the other participants. The worst part is, even if he carries the truth with his beliefs, he has lost because his arrogance and thoughtlessness have closed the doors of communication with others. He is not concerned with whether or not others learn, only that he is considered right.
When we are asked the question that titles this article, our response should always be that if there is adequate and suitable evidence to show that our convictions are wrong we will change our beliefs. If we are completely interested in truth, then what we have believed in the past does not matter, but what has been proven to be true in the present is of the utmost importance.