This page has a helpful list of biblical verses on the subject of a teachable spirit. An attitude of intellectual humility is an essential part off Christian life, not only in our ethical frameworks, but also in our engagement with science and schools of interpretation.
Virtue epistemology, a definition of knowledge pioneered by philosophers such as Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa, holds that S knows that p when:
- p is true;
- S believes that p; and
- S’s true belief is a result of S exercising his intellectual virtues.
What sort of attitudes might one put in a list of intellectual virtues? Here are a few suggestions.
- Truth should not be silenced.
- Truth is worth hard work.
- Truth is worth risking friendships.
- One should hold the right doctrine for the right reasons.
- Expert opinion that is relevant ought to be considered (though not blindly followed).
There are many more attitudes one could add to this list. People do not consciously think of them, as a general rule, when pursuing a line of inquiry, but they are nevertheless fundamental to the way many people think (some of the time). However, as in all moral matters, observance of such principles is hindered by competing priorities, whether legitimate or illegitimate. The sin nature tempts humans to be lazy and to suppress factors that get in the way of a desired outcome. Humanity’s propensity to deceive further complicates this problem, both internally, in the context of a psychomachia, and externally, in the context of dialogue between people.
This duty to follow sound intellectual principles weighs most heavily on apologists, evangelists, and preachers of homilies and sermons. Why is it important that people should have the correct exegesis for correct exegetical reasons? The principal concern is that nothing happens in isolation. In other words, if faulty methodology or an incorrect meaning is imparted as a stage in the process of discovery, there is a possibility that this mistake could be applied to another inquiry, creating a false result.
Mistakes will be made, and no-one is perfect. For this reason, it is important to establish a culture of free discussion in which corrective recommendations can be made. The perpetuation of error is not in anyone’s interest. This core principle, which recognises mankind’s fallibility and need for reform, lies at the heart of the Christian message: Christians should remember to apply it to their study of Scripture, science, and philosophy.