The title of this post comes from Proverbs 10:17. I could have quoted Proverbs 12:1, or 15:12, or any number of other Bible verses about accepting correction, but Prov. 10:17 seemed the most fitting of all of them.
I’ve recently been trying to communicate with someone who, because he pays lip service to the divine authority of the Bible (and so allegedly should know and accept the teaching found in Proverbs) insists that I am not a Christian (since I disagree with his views), and therefore he does not need to and indeed shouldn’t listen to me.
But this makes no sense, and what’s more, it undermines the Bible’s teaching.
The only people who will correct you are those who disagree with you. If everyone who disagrees with you is by definition not a Christian and therefore not to be listened to, then by definition you will not heed correction from anyone.
Congratulations! You have just defined yourself as someone the Book of Proverbs says is a stupid person, a mocker, and one who leads others astray. That’s quite a high price to say just to convince yourself, in your prideful arrogance, that you are always right.
Of course, the Bible doesn’t actually suggest that people cannot learn from those outside of their own religious community. Jesus is depicted as having learned an important lesson from the Syro-Phoenecian woman and other Gentiles, about one of whom he said, having been impressed, that he had not found such faith among his own people. (Of course, as I mentioned recently, those same people who want to insulate themselves from correction will often view Jesus as one who never needed to learn anything – and so as his followers, they extrapolate, neither do they.)
In the Book of Numbers in the Bible, Balaam was famously corrected by an ass. And so even if someone thinks that I am an ass, presumably that doesn’t excuse them, Biblically speaking, from the possibility that I might have something important to tell them.
Fundamentalism seems to me to be more about pride than anything else. It is a well known fact that people who adhere to inerrancy draw very different conclusions about what Scripture means. In spite of that, more often than not among fundamentalists, belief in the inerrancy of Scripture is taken as a safeguard of the inerrancy of one’s own views.
Fundamentalism is not just about the idolatrous treatment of the Bible, as though it were divine and inerrant, attributes rightly ascribed only to God. It is about treating oneself as inerrant, and thus elevating oneself to the status of divinity. Can anyone who is not divine be confident that they have nothing they need to learn?