By Connie W. Adams
Jesus taught that there are some who are unteachable. They have imposed certain obstacles in their own way and until they remove them, the truth will not be appreciated by them. “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophesy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt.13:13-15).
With stopped ears, closed eyes and hardened hearts these were un- teachable. They had the capacity to learn, but not the willingness. It is unfortunate that we yet have unteachables.
1. Prejudice has so blinded the minds of some that they will not be taught. Through campaigns of misinformation which dwell upon themes which are known to trigger definite reactions against those who preach the truth, the minds of some are closed. During the period of rapid growth of the church in this country in the decades from 1820-1850, the advocates of denominational error coined a term which automatically incited an adverse reaction with some. “Campbellite” was the term. A further prejudicial appeal was made to the religion of the “fathers.” Some could not hear the sound of the truth for thinking, “This man condemns my parents.”
In the present hour prejudice is yet incited by some within the church by the use of epithets and the circulation of rumors which distort what honest brethren believe. The fear of being called “anti” has prompted some to align themselves with popular movements or causes among brethren. Have you closed your eyes to truth because of prejudice?
2. A conglomeration of errors and half-truths has congested the minds of some. Until these can be removed, such people are unteachable. Some of our brethren become unduly exercised over what they call too much “negative” teaching. Of course, all negative teaching would leave no time or occasion for impressing the positive elements of the gospel. Before a field can be plowed, planted and cultivated, it must be cleared of trees, roots, stumps, or rocks. I have tried to talk with Jehovah’s Witnesses or others whose minds were filled with such an abundance of misinformation or such a hodgepodge of half-truths that very little was accomplished.
Through the years an ignorance has beclouded the minds of many brethren and the minds of some are cluttered with concepts of denominationalism. Even basic principles, such as the way to establish scriptural authority, the realm of generics and specifics, the difference between collective and individual action, and elementary rules for the interpretation of Scripture, are commonly misunderstood. In order to teach some the truth it is necessary to start from “scratch,” lay again the foundation and step-by-step build thereon.
3. Know-it alls are unteachable until they decide that wisdom will not perish with them and that there just might be some truth they have not perceived or some truth which they have not fully comprehended. As one matures in Christ, his appreciation even of truths he has already known should be deepened and enhanced. Anytime we think we have no further need of study, and that we have a corner on truth, we need to study once again what humility is. “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Gal. 6:3).
We all need to study the Bible with open and honest hearts that the full light of truth may guide our feet. Let us not be of the number who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).
(This article first appeared in The Enlightener, May 1968)