“It is the lock of the door of the closed mind. It is the ignorance we usually mistake for reason. It is the first enemy of information and progress. It is intellectual astigmatism. It is a perfect combination of conceit and ignorance…It is the defense of the devil, shell of a petrified mind, and the ceiling of understanding.’ What is it? It is prejudice”(Wendell Winkler, “Sound Doctrine for Everyday Living”)! Prejudice rears its head in so many forms that many do not recognize its manifestation, but the symptoms are unmistakable. Those overcome by prejudice can literally read a verse that completely contradicts what they believe, and the information will not sink into the heart of those who read the words because they set their mind on stubbornness and fixedness. People who fear change, refuse logic, and ignore blatant facts stand as their own worst enemies. Can such a force be overcome?
Webster defines prejudice as “preconceived judgment or opinion, an opinion or learning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.” Those who cling to fact-less theories, those who have faith in a doctrine that cannot be defended, those who hold to a belief without evidence, those who judge in ignorance and mere appearance have given themselves over to prejudice. If a person refuses to recognize or seek not to understand prejudice, the individual cannot see it in herself/himself. Prejudice dwells in close-mindedness. Truth cannot penetrate a closed mind. Prejudice condemns without investigation. People often judge and condemn without all the facts, but rather based on rumors, stereotypes, and outward appearances.
Prejudice creates a bearer between so many principles, ideas, and people. Prejudice against the truth will bring nothing but a life of blindness and separation from God. Philosophers commonly quote Plato’s words, “We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” The open mind will and can ask themselves honestly (the closed mind will not even read this article) …
- Do I hear and consider the words and thoughts of those who believe differently than me?
- Do I welcome the voice and presence of those who look and act differently than me?
- Do I exaggerate and/or oversimplify beliefs about a group of people different than me?
- Do I put labels on people before knowing them or hearing them?
- Do I treat everyone the way I would want to be treated?
Truthfully, most everyone possesses some degree of prejudice. If a person thinks they have no prejudice, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). All have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). All people, even Christians, retain a bit of bias in their worldviews.
Historically, personal bias has always been a problem, even for the followers of God. The Pharisees were prejudice against the truth of Christ. “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:15). Paul saw the church in Corinth fall victim to false teachers of the Jews who were prejudice against the gospel. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3,4). Prejudice against the truth was one of the sins that crucified Jesus (Matt. 27:21-26). In spite of the overwhelming evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, the Messiah, the prejudice against Him blinded the Jews from the truth that the prophecies had been fulfilled in Jesus. How do believers own their prejudice and not allow it to taint their vocation in Christ?
To overcome prejudice against the truth, consider what the truth can do (John 8:32; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22,23; Eph. 1:13; John 17:17,19). Instead of being prejudice toward the truth a person should hear the truth (Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5). If a person really has the truth, they should not be afraid that people should hear it, challenge it, or study it (2 Tim. 2:15, Eph. 4:15; 2 Thess. 2:10; Gal. 2:14). For a person to fear another’s thoughts and perspectives to their faith, and to fear others analyzing and examining one’s faith reveals a close-minded prejudice! Seek out conversation and experiences with people who live and think differently than you!
While being open-minded provides many doors of opportunities, such experiences can lead to arrogance and high-mindedness. Individuals may start to think themselves more enlightened, intellectual, or cultured than others. A believer must always keep themselves grounded in the eyes of God, maintain the standard of the ultimate and the final Judge over all the earth (Rom. 12:3; 2 Cor. 5:10).