In this chapter, Guinness asks the question of how one chooses the proper worldview in the midst of Atheism, Hinduism and Christianity. Everyone has a worldview and when one is exposed to another worldview it often forever changes the way they perceive their own worldview.
Add to this the issue of pluralization where the choices offered seem to be unending, and we find ourselves in an era where the propensity to change our worldview or paradigm is real.
Guinness explains that apologetically it’s crucial to know this for it points to what kind of unbelief (unbelief is always a rejection of God) we are dealing with, and it points to what kind of arguments we should employ. When people are closed minded this is especially helpful knowledge.
Reaching the Closed-Minded Person
Consider the account of the prophet Nathan exposing King David’s adultery and murder. Instead of confronting the king with the facts, the prophet used a fictitious story to appeal to David as judge and lawgiver of Israel. The end of that account reveals an infuriated David unwittingly condemning himself when Nathan says, “You are the man”, followed by heart break repentance and cries for forgiveness. That’s powerful! Lesson—keep the audience in mind in order to connect with them.
Another way to reach a closed-minded person is to keep the goal of the encounter clear. That is, depending on their disposition, we must proceed with the truth in such a way that it will meet their need. Some people don’t need a bunch of arguments to believe (E.g., the Philippian jailor) but others may (E.g., Doubting Thomas). Regardless, we eventually want to get to the truth of the gospel if possible.
Sometimes there will be the need to reframe the truth properly when God is misrepresented and thus rejected on false premises. Our duty is to clarify who God is and explain what entails rejecting Him. After this is done, if one still rejects God, then at least the real has been snubbed, not a phantom caricature (E.g., the disciples on the road to Emmaus [Pgs.166-7]).
Still another way to pry open the closed mind is to ask questions. When we learn to ask questions properly, we are help people live the examined life, perhaps see the way of their errors and thus enable them to pursue the truth. Guinness reminds us that questions have the power to engage people because they are indirect and involving. The greatest questioner in history was not Socrates, but God seen in Genesis 3 and blossomed in the life of Christ.
Yet another way to open the closed minded is through the use of parables, drama and ploys. For example the Rechabites were used by Jeremiah the prophet to explain Israel’s disobedience through Jeremiah asking the Rechabites to drink wine with him. He knew they didn’t drink (modern day equivalent to fundamentalists) because they obeyed the word of a man, but Israel refused to obey the word of the LORD God.
Postscript: Guinness ends the chapter by pointing out that in this age words suffer from inattention and inflation. When we speak people are not listening, and when words are used they distort reality so as to sell one’s product to a consumer. As people of the word, who worship the WORD, words ought to matter to us. Thus instead of championing technological marvels, Christians should grow deeper in their theology. This is one way to combat the misuse of words—the suppressing of truth in unrighteousness.