Prejudice and the Truth Paradigm

The most popular theme that has received the most hits on WOTG is ‘Prejudice.’ I only wrote about this once in a post called Prejudice – An Introduction, but it still gets the most hits. Mostly from search engines where people are plugging in terms like ‘prejudice’ ‘prejudice definition’ and ‘prejudice people’ but surprisingly I’ve found searches for ‘introduction to prejudice’ and ‘prejudice introduction’ which makes me wonder if people are actually looking for my article.

Regardless, if they’re coming here by chance or actually looking for my truth paradigm, it’s about time to update the article. This has become the theme that I am most noted for, and that’s okay. I am a huge proponent for truth. I have had several opportunities to teach, write, or talk about my truth paradigm. The more I grow, the more I realize how this affects every facit of our lives. The more I study it, the more I refine my thoughts.

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When I use the word prejudice, it strikes a certain conotation in the perceivers mind. I’ve been asked to stop using the word because it has such a negative response, but honestly, there is not another word that so precisely articulates my point.

People think that prejudice is reserved for the KKK or racial profiling. While these are the extreme cases of prejudice, the reality is that everyone has some form of prejudice. By definition, Prejudice is ‘a preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience.’ Everyone has preconceived opinions, therefore, everyone has some form of prejudice. For the sake of how I am using this word, prejudice is the gut reaction an individual has to a concept, object, or person.

Prejudice is a product of how we have been influenced. There are many factors that affect how our prejudice develops, but they all follow a basic format.

In this delineation, which I call the truth paradigm, we see that everything starts with an authority. Our authority influences our principles. Principles develop into values, and our values turn into subconscious prejudices. While most people want to deny that they have any prejudice, what they are really doing is ignoring the invisible affects that our authorities, principles, and values have on our mind.

For the Christian, our final authority is the Word of God. I believe that the Scriptures contain a foundation for every aspect of life. While it may not speak directly to every issue, it does provide a solid, authoritative foundation to live by.

The starting point for all followers of Christ is and should always be the authority of the Word of God. While this standard is universal, how people develop their principles is not. There are many different variables on how people interpret their authority. Like anything dealing with degrees and angles, the variance on where we disagree by principles may not seem very noticeable, but the further we get away from our authority and into our prejudice, the more likely these views will seem extreme.

An awareness of the process of how ideas develop is important to understanding. In order to relate to one another and learn to love the brethren, it is essential that we recognize how ideas are formed. But most importantly, it is critical that every individual understand where their own prejudices come from

What every Christian needs to know is that we are not solely influenced by the Bible, theology, and Christian worldview. The truth is, most of us are also heavily influence by our parents, teachers, friends, environment, and culture. The problem is that most Christians don’t think that they are inertly affected by their surroundings, but since we are not yet glorified in our minds or our bodies, we are typically far more affected by these worldly forces than we are by God’s authority. The Christian who thinks he is living solely on the authority of the Bible is gravely mistaken.

There are three primary brackets in which we are actively affected to believe a certain way. These different factors influence us and become an authority in our life.

  1. Experience – This is the strongest authority because it deals with the individual personally. Incorporated in this field is personal study. The amount of time spent studying an idea will increase the level of authority it will have over the individual. Yet few will actually be prompted to study when personal experience has already solidified an idea. If someone has a vision or thinks they have experienced something supernatural, they are highly influenced by this authority in their life.
  2. Relationships – The strength of these relationships vary from friends, teachers, and parents, in that order with the strongest being friends. Parents have a subtle influence on their offspring and can affect them psychologically and instill instinctive responses. Teachers have a strong cognitive influence once the mind is able to grasp concepts abstractly. But friends have the strongest influence because these are the ones children are most likely to have a strong desire to please. Obviously, a parent who is a teacher and emotionally close to their children will have the strongest influence on their lives.
  3. Culture – This has a subtle influence over an individual. Accents and mannerisms come from the culture that surrounds us. But this can change as we move and learn to acclimate to other cultures. This also has the weakest affect on the individual because it is often truncated by the two previous factors. With technological advances, cultures are having a much harder time keeping their traditional values as the internet continues to bridge the gap and tear down stereotypical walls.

Christianity uses each one of these factors in some degree to cultivate belief. The Bible can be studied and practiced. A believer can be taught biblical truths at home, church, and school and have fellowship with other believers. The church provides the believer with membership in a Christian community.

Sadly, most churches and Christians have been content to rely on Christian culture as the main source of influence. This will only culminate in a weak faith that will prove incapable of standing against the attacks of the devil. When young adults are getting nothing more than a culture of Christianity, they are more likely to be influenced by their secular relationships and personal experience.

When we teach that a particular lifestyle is sinful and act as though it is repulsive, when an individual meets someone who has that lifestyle but is kind and considerate, they are likely to throw out their belief for their experience.

Most people are unwilling to see how their beliefs are formed. They are naively satisfied to perpetuate what they have already thought. There are many ways this becomes a problem: preaching to the choir, confirmation bias, logical fallacies, etc. If we take our faith seriously, we need to be willing to understand our beliefs. It is not enough to simply accept Jesus and not know Him. The work of Christ must be experienced. The Father seeks to have a personal relationship with us. It is not enough simply to create a pseudo-Christian culture and expect it to grow with thoughtful individuals. We must understand the roots of our faith and the affects of our prejudices.

Help me to continue to refine this point by offering your thoughts and critique.

Also, help this become the most popular theme of 2012 by sharing it with your friends.

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19 Responses to Prejudice and the Truth Paradigm

  1. Nate says:

    I think we share hearts at digging for the root of the matter. Great reclamation of Prejudice! So many people treat words like brands today. Rather than know a word, they know the history of it, how it’s treated people. And if it’s treated people poorly, the word itself gets tossed out.

    My only critique would be that you should spend more space (and possibly research) on the unwillingness to know how we know. The unspoken question I always get in return is “Why should I stop what I am doing and hurt my brain to consider a new way of thinking? What I am doing works and I don’t want to change.” I am certain you aren’t pulling these ideas together in a vacuum and will just have to wait for a more formal version from you down the road. Keep it up!

    • Adam Miller says:

      Thanks Nate. That is something I want to research and write about more. Whenever I write about the truth paradigm I always want to say more than I can fit into the post. This is simply and introduction. A premise that I have to work out all the kinks and develop more fully in the future. Thanks for sharing it. I always appreciate the helpful critique.

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