The Principle of Contempt Prior to Investigation

Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era. Spencer declares that “there is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

In the realm of truth, this principle is one-hundred present accurate, but first let’s be sure we understand the meaning of the word “contempt” as Spencer uses it in his stated principle.

Contempt defined: the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.

Now, let’s make an application of Spencer’s principle to a real life situation. Suppose that you as a Christian are sharing the biblical truth that homosexuality is a sin. Further, suppose that the person with whom you are sharing this truth holds the fallacious belief that homosexuals are born homosexuals because their genetic structure possesses a homosexual gene.

Question: How do you think this person is going to receive you and the truth that you clearly share with great conviction that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is sinful? The answer to that question is not difficult when your stated biblical belief is met with anger, or hatred, or animosity, or resentment, and you are called a bigot. This is the mindset of the person with contempt for the truth.

One might ask why this contemptuous person so strongly disavows biblical truth. The reason becomes clear when the word contempt is understood. The truth is that contempt proves to be “a bar,” that is a barrier, against any possible change of mind that will accept the biblical truth that you share.

A contemptuous person may further try to justify a pro-homosexual belief by stating that “we are all created in the image of God.” This rationale is also contrary to the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The truth is that only Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, and the entire human race, with the exception of Jesus Christ, is born in the image of fallen Adam (Genesis 5:1-3).

The contemptuous mind is a closed mind that has erected a barrier against all other beliefs that may be contrary to beliefs held, and a contemptuous mind will keep a person in everlasting ignorance.

The antithesis to a contemptuous mind is an open mind. However, a Christian with an open mind implies only that any opposing belief will be heard. The opposing belief will be measured against the truth of Scripture. It will also be measured against the personal belief held. Investigation naturally results in one or two things: a change in one’s personal belief held or confidence that the position personally held is scripturally accurate.

A common tactic of the contemptuous person is to attack the messenger rather than investigate the message. This tactic consigns the contemptuous person to everlasting ignorance. You, the Christian who has delivered the truth, have not failed. Your success is that you have delivered the truth, and the contemptuous person is at the mercy of the integrity of God who will measure his contempt against His righteousness, and His justice will carry out the necessary discipline to get his attention. The truth is that more frequent than not, the contemptuous person’s mind is never changed in spite of God’s disciplinary measures. In the meanwhile, God’s remnant will suffer-by-association with an arrogant, contemptuous world. Do not give up. Continue to stand in the gap for truth.

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