Thursday, 2 June 2011

Changing Minds

How do people change their minds? It's an interesting question. When people hold particular views, often for a long time, what prompts them to reconsider?

I've been thinking about this in the light of a recent book called How I Changed my Mind about Women in Leadership, where 27 people who have changed their minds explain why they've done so.

I guess I've always thought that those who argue that the Bible prevents women from holding certain leadership roles in the Church do so out of theological conviction. If others could put a sufficiently good theological argument, they'd change their minds. And that is what they say, too.

But I suspect it's a little more complex than that. While we think that our positions on all sorts of issues are well thought out and rational, we are complex beings, and experience has to play a part as well.

Non-theological reasons for the positions people hold include the 'fear' factor that keeps people from thinking outside the box, and male leaders who assert their views as if they are the word of God. It's not all about objective biblical interpretation.

When it comes to experience, the Bible shows that the Apostle Peter needed the experience of a dream to realise that the gospel was for Gentiles as well as for Jews. Moses needed to experience God's power before he was willing to carry out the task God had given him. We are whole people, with minds, bodies and emotions. In my experience (!), it has often been the experience of women leaders, or the realisation that the practical outworking of their position is so arbitrary, that has prompted people to reconsider their interpretation of Scripture.

You can read a review of How I Changed my Mind about Women in Leadership on the Sophia Network website.

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