Are You an Open-minded or Vertical-Minded Grandparent?

written by Cavin Harper
8 · 24 · 19

“So, you own the truth!” This comment was directed at me by a grandmother during a recent session I was teaching about the core truths of a biblical worldview. She believed I had laid claim to the corner on what was true. She took issue with that because she had come to realize truth was much different than what I claimed the Bible said about it. She had learned to be ‘open-minded’ about other views and believed my views were narrow and close-minded… that I was, in fact, being intolerant of other more loving views.

Was she right? I certainly don’t agree with her view of intolerance unless making a statement about what I believe is true is intolerant… but then I suppose she would also be intolerant. However, as a grandparent my greatest desire is to know my children and grandchildren are walking in the truth. So, being ‘open-minded’ may, in fact, make it less likely that my grandchildren will know the truth.

If being open-minded means accepting the cultural mantra that all religions are equally true, and therefore, what you believe is a matter of preference, not objective truth, then I would gladly accept that I am not ‘open-minded’. In fact, I can think of nothing more dangerous than such mindless open-mindedness where there are no filters to determine what is true and what is not. If that’s what it means to be intolerant, I am guilty as charged.

But here’s the problem… truth will always be true, whether I believe it or not. That means that if you, as a grandparent, do not know the truth, how will you ever guide another generation to know the truth? Shall we just throw our grandchildren to the wolves and let them figure it out for themselves?

The idea that all religions are equally true is by all logical thinking a contradictory absurdity. The laws of logic say that opposite ideas cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way. It’s not possible.

If you line up all the core beliefs proclaimed by Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Judaism and Christianity (or Athieism), you will find major differences about God, the meaning of life and life after death. They can’t all be true at the same time. Each give answers about these core realities of life that are mutually exclusive. Being open-minded does not change that. It only fills our minds with nonsense.

That’s the problem, now here’s the question that needs to be answered. What is the source of truth? Do you believe that truth is for you to determine—that matters of meaning are reduced to the insatiable pursuit of happiness and self-fulfillment? Or is there, as John Stonestreet expresses, a “fixed reference point” that determines what is true? I agree with John when he says, “A culture that abandons any fixed reference point and instead tells its young people that truth, purpose, meaning, and morality are purely subjective, will only, in the end, rob them of any truth, purpose, meaning, or morality worth fighting for.” I don’t want to be an open-minded grandparent who robs their grandchildren of the truth.

Our grandchildren do not need “open-minded” grandparents to help them navigate a world that is aggressively hostile to truth. They need “vertical-minded” grandparents who understand that truth does not originate with man, but with a transcendent, sovereign and loving God who cares deeply for those He made in His image—a God who has made His truth known to us through Creation, His Word, and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

As I have considered that grandmother’s statement to me, “So, you own the truth”, I believe my answer must be, “Yes, I do own it, but I am not the source of it. I own it because it is God’s truth, not mine, and it is for all mankind. I do not decide what is true by picking through truth claims like I pick though a produce stand and choose what feels good for me. God is truth. My job is to walk with integrity by applying the mind God gave me to think critically and vertically so that I might learn to know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

Thankfully, God has not left us on our own to figure this out. He has graciously revealed His truth through men He chose to write as the Spirit moved them to write—what we call the Bible. I believe the Bible is the Word of God, not because I want it to be, but because the evidence supports it. Upon that Word I stand firm. I own it as my own, not because I know more than anyone else, but because God has revealed it as only God can… and I believe God over men.

What about you? What is your source of truth? You cannot force your grandchildren to believe the truth, but you can point them to the truth and live life according to that truth. If you want to be open-minded, then make sure your open-mindedness is contoured by a vertical-minded way of thinking.

John Stonestreet would urge us to teach our grandchildren to do the same by asking two basic questions:

  1. What do you mean by that? (we must define the words we use), and
  2. How do you know it is true?

I want my grandchildren to own the truth, not because I say it is true, but because they have been taught how to ask the hard questions that propel them beyond open-minded foolishness to critical-minded wisdom where truth is revealed to those who are vertically-minded.

Here’s a great resource for every grandparent (and parent): A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle; David C. Cook; Colorado Springs, CO.

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Cavin Harper


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  1. The Ven. Ronald S Gauss

    My truth comes from Biblical reference. We might discuss translation, but it is still truth. We can twist the Bible to present what we want, but it is still twisting the references. Jesus, and the rest of Scripture means what it says, and we always ask what it means because we don’t like what the clear meaning states.

    • Cavin Harper

      Thanks for the comment, Ronald. I agree and would suggest that many people don’t always ask what the Scriptures mean because the don’t like what the clear meaning is, but those of us who want to know the truth do ask what it means even if we don’t like the truth. It is still the truth whether I like it or not. Soli Scriptura!


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