Do You Let Prejudice Stumble You?
PEOPLE with cataracts on their eyes have cloudy, fuzzy vision. This in turn affects their judgment; they often stumble, fall and hurt themselves. In like fashion some people’s mental vision is beclouded by figurative cataracts, by prejudice caused by self-interest or some other emotional factor. Judgments based on such factors are said to be subjective, not objective judgments. If you act on such judgments you also could stumble, fall and hurt yourself.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when upon the earth, repeatedly met up with persons exercising subjective judgments because of prejudice. Jesus was reared in Galilee, a Roman province peopled mostly by humble farmers and fishermen. This fact served as an excuse for religious leaders of his time not to listen to him. Thus when Nicodemus, a ruler and a member of the Jewish supreme court, requested a fair hearing for Jesus, his colleagues sneered: “You are not also out of Galilee, are you? Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up out of Galilee.”—John 7:50-52.
Did the mere fact that the Bible did not foretell in so many words that a prophet would come out of Galilee mean that none ever would? By no means! In fact, the prophet Isaiah did foretell that a, “great light” would be seen in this region.—Isa. 9:1, 2; Matt. 4:13-17.
That it was indeed self-interest that prejudiced the Jewish leaders against Jesus is clear from his words rebuking them: “How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?” Because of their selfish desire to have the praise of men they could not see the obvious evidence that Jesus Christ was indeed their long-promised Messiah, the great Prophet, the Son of God. To acknowledge Jesus would have cost them their reputation among the higher classes. So because they could not see the truth that was so obvious to many of the common people, the religious leaders as a class stumbled at Jesus.—John 5:44; Luke 7:11, 16.
The apostle Paul met up with people having the same type of fuzzy mental vision. Most of the philosophers who listened to him on Mars Hill betrayed a judgment beclouded by prejudice, as the record shows: “Well, when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, some began to mock, while others said: ‘We will hear you about this even another time.’” That someone should actually rise from the dead seemed to them too ridiculous even to consider, and so they refused to examine the evidence that Jesus Christ had in fact been raised from the dead. A few of Paul’s listeners on that occasion, however, were willing to reason on what he had told them. Because of being open-minded, free from bias, they were able to focus their perceptive powers on this great truth. The results? They were persuaded and became believers.—Acts 17:32-34.
The same situation prevails in modern times. Viewing things subjectively or in a prejudiced way still causes many people to reject God’s Word the Bible. What about you in this regard? Do you maintain clear thinking ability, free of prejudices, or do you allow the opinions of others to becloud your vision? Many persons have been influenced by such Bible critics as the German theologian J. Wellhausen, who died in 1918. Of him we read, in the 1959 edition of a popular encyclopedia, that he “made his name famous by . . . the uncompromising scientific attitude he adopted” in analyzing the Bible.—Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 23, p. 498.
But any “scientific” methods he may have used were nullified by his unscientific motives. He was not scientific, objective, but subjective, for he let emotional factors warp his judgment. He let his vision be beclouded by prejudice against anything that claimed to be a revealed religion. He therefore proceeded on the premise that many books of the Bible were pious frauds. Because of this, as American archaeologist Albright so well noted: “Wellhausen . . . greatly exaggerated the resemblance between the Hebrews of the Mosaic age and the pagan Arabs . . . nearly 2,000 years later.” Moreover, Albright showed that there was absolutely no evidence to support Wellhausen’s theory of ancient pious fraudulent literature.—The American Scholar, Vol. 7, No. 2, p. 183.
Thus also H. F. Hahn, writing in Essays on Jewish Life and Thought (1959), states regarding Wellhausen, “It is only fair to say that his work was not ‘scientific.’ . . . Wellhausen . . . wrote from the conviction that the most important task of the historian was interpretation. . . . His history of Israel’s religion, therefore, was not so much a scientific study as a philosophical view of history.” Yes, this Bible critic’s preconceived ideas beclouded his judgment.
Today the Christian witnesses of Jehovah go from house to house, even as did the apostle Paul and others, declaring the good news of God’s kingdom. (Matt. 24:14; Acts 5:42; 20:20) Sincerely, yet calmly, they point out the wisdom of Bible principles, the reasonableness of Bible teachings, and the certitude of Bible prophecies. But many persons, because of having their vision beclouded by prejudice, turn a deaf ear to the message that the Witnesses bring.
Why? Some do so because among the Witnesses comparatively few highly educated are to be found. But such biased persons overlook the fact that the same was true among the apostles and other early Christians. Some turn a deaf ear because the message of the Witnesses is based on the Bible, which they hold to be unscientific. But as Professor Brobeck of the University of Pennsylvania once observed: ‘True, most scientists do not accept the Bible, but not because they are scientists. Most other people do not accept the Bible either.’—John 7:48; 1 Cor. 1:26-29.
So do not let prejudice or preconceived ideas or the uninformed opinions of others becloud your vision. Investigate for yourself. Give the Witnesses an impartial hearing. Ever so many who have done so are most thankful that they did. Yes, “make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.”—1 Thess. 5:21.