I’m surely as guilty as the next person. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you that the mainstream media promote socialism, that abortion is murder, and that psychiatric drugs can be a recipe for temporal and eternal disaster. To be honest, I’m not terribly interested in hearing arguments to the contrary, unless they’re fueled by facts – and so far I haven’t heard the opposition propose anything that's even in the ballpark.
But I don't believe that foregone conclusions are a problem, as long as they’re the product of careful, fact-centered analysis. It’s only when those conclusions are based on careful, feeling-centered analysis that they become dangerous.
For instance, say I believe that gun control is desirable because guns scare me. This is my foregone conclusion, and anything that threatens it will have to be ignored -- including the fact that the worst gun violence occurs in the most heavily gun-controlled cities … and that the 20th cenutury’s worst mass murderers, from Mao and Stalin to Hitler, launched their reigns of terror by disarming their populations. No no no, I wouldn't let such pesky facts challenge my conclusion!
George Orwell understood how it works: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
But as pressing as issues like these may seem at the moment, they are merely temporal; in 500 years, they won’t matter to any of us or even to our great great great great grandchildrn. The foregone conclusions that are truly dangerous are those that impact our eternities.
Consider, for example, the Bible. Some believers say it's an acronym for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, and I think that's exactly right. Demonstrably inspired and inerrant, it covers the history of mankind from beginning to end, and advises us in no uncertain terms what is required of those who want to spend eternity in heaven with God.
But lately, I've been hearing even professing Christians say that the Bible is largely irrelevant today. The subject might be divorce or homosexuality, abortion or the amassing of fortunes, or anything in between. It doesn't matter, these observers insist; the Bible has nothing to say to us on such issues.
Why? Because it was written a long time ago and was meant for another time, of course! And no, they certainly don't want to discuss it; they already know in their guts that they're right. Foregone conclusion confirmed!
But here again, such a conclusion is based not on facts but on feelings; any objective reading of the Bible's 66 books will make it clear that all of these issues are addressed thoroughly, along with every other question that has ever puzzled mankind. And there's nothing to indicate that God's position on any of them has changed over the last 2000 years.
People simply don't want to listen, and their feelings-based foregone conclusions tell them that listening to any arguments to the contrary is a big fat waste of time.
You can see how eternally dangerous this might be. The Bible makes it clear that, although the prerequisites for salvation are simply repentance and trusting in Jesus Christ, the true child of God will in the process be born again to new life; he will find his life radically altered according to God's revealed will.
But how exactly do you change according to His will when your foregone conclusion is warning you to ignore the only book He has ever written?
Is it in fact possible to get to heaven without knowing what He has said in His word?
That's up to God, not me. But consider that Jesus said you must be born again "to see the kingdom of God," and that the apostle Peter said we are born again "through the word of God which lives and abides forever."
Does that sound like it might be wise to study and obey what God has said in His word, rather than shrugging it off as irrelevant?
I think so. But for whatever reason, most people don't want to hear it. Guess it's easier to simply trust in a foregone conclusion, no matter how shaky its foundation may be.