If you ever read through the book of Acts, you will notice that whenever the Apostle Paul arrives at a new town or city, he goes directly to the local synagogue and reasons with the people from the Old Testament scriptures. He very effectively demonstrates how Jesus fulfills the messianic prophecies in the scriptures. Many of the Jews became Christians because of the power of his arguments.
In Acts, chapter seventeen, Paul travels to Thessalonica and we are told he shares the gospel of Jesus, he explains and gives evidence to the Jews that Christ was their Messiah and many were persuaded. However, there were certain Jews who would not listen and formed a mob that set the city in an uproar. They were not interested in hearing or examining the evidence that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
Paul and Silas then left Thessalonica and went to Berea. Once again Paul goes straight to the local Jewish synagogue. But we learn this; the people of Berea are described as more “noble-minded than those in Thessalonica.” They eagerly and carefully examined the scripture Paul was sharing with them because, we are told, “they wanted to see if what Paul was saying was true.”
A noble-minded person is someone who has a high or exalted character in their thinking. Not only do they love the truth, but they eagerly seek it. Truthfully, most people are not noble-minded. The reason, according to Blaise Pascal is because they “invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof, but on the basis of what they find attractive.”
A good model of noble-mindedness can be seen in the life of Antony Flew. He was one of the most celebrated atheists of the last 50 years. For five decades, he launched an aggressive attack on the existence of God. And then, in 2007, he stunned the world by announcing that he had changed his mind. He laid out his reasoning in his book There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. In the book he states:
“I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than half a century? The short answer is this: This is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”
It seems that one of the reasons Flew changed his mind is he saw how we let preconceived theories and beliefs shape the way we view evidence, instead of letting the evidence shape our theories and beliefs. Flew clearly was noble-minded. As he began to let the truth of the evidence shape his actual beliefs, he changed his mind about God.
In the end, Antony Flew’s mind was changed because of the principled practice he followed all of his life: follow the truth wherever it leads. This is a picture of what it means to be noble-minded. It seems quite logical that if we do not have a great love of truth, we most certainly will never find it.