THE WORLD’S GREATEST THREAT
I once took a course in logic while in junior college. I found it to be an interesting experience. This interest came not just from a better understanding of logic but by being introduced to how people react to logic.. Logic had been introduced to us in the following manner: a major premise, a minor premise, and, a conclusion. As an example of this the major premise was that “all men are mortal.” The minor premise was that “John was a man,” and therefore “John was mortal” being the necessary conclusion. There were diagrams in the textbook and diagrams drawn on the blackboard to illustrate this, yet it seemed that some had a major problem in seeing, or accepting, this. Two things stick out in my memory. One was the instructor telling of a night class he was teaching on the subject. He told of one older fellow in the night class looking at the diagram, and just shaking his head as if he were just not sure about it all.
The second memory is of the instructor stating that he didn’t like people trying to pin down other people with logic. My reaction to this was, “What?” That is one of my favorite tools! What do people have against the truth? Well, Jesus of Nazareth was the truth incarnate and they nailed him to a cross. Jesus said that if they do this to me they will do it to you; meaning his followers. His prophets, apostles, preachers, etc. have received similar treatment down across the centuries. To this world, truth is the greatest threat.
We have laws against perjury; we extol honesty and integrity even while we tell our little white lies, and, in some cases, our giant whoppers, whenever we determine that the situation calls for it. The attitude seems to be that the end justifies the means. Of course, that is only if we are the ones telling the lies; we usually get greatly offended if we find that someone has lied to us. The golden rule just doesn’t apply to us.
I approached the cashier’s window in the supermarket and noticed that the lady there looked as if she were having a rugged day. I asked, “How are you?” She said, “Fine.” I said, “You don’t look like you are fine.” She said, “I know, but it is best to say that.” How often does this or similar things happen in our daily lives? We demonstrate that we have very little faith in the truth.
In 1957, Leon Festinger, a social psychologist at Stanford University, came up with something he called the, Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Webster’s dictionary defines cognitive dissonance as, “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.” Our minds just won’t tolerate these inconsistencies. When we become aware of one we must rectify the situation. There are various ways of doing this. The simplest would be to discard the “beliefs or attitudes” that are obviously wrong. But that just won’t work for us in too many instances. The Intellectual Devotional provides the following example: A man, or woman, who smokes cigarettes, experiences cognitive dissonance when he is confronted with the health risks. The obvious solution to the problem would be to just quit smoking. Trouble is that many find quitting smoking is just too difficult, thus they must find another solution. So they rationalize by telling themselves that if they quit smoking they will eat more and gain weight and being overweight is more dangerous to their health than smoking. The smoker might also compare the dangers of smoking to driving down the road. There is danger in that as a serious accident could occur, but we get in our cars and drive daily without giving it a serious thought. Hence why should I be overly concerned with the dangers of smoking. In any case if I cut down and don’t smoke too much there is probably no health risk.
We all have convictions; things we believe we should do, or not do. Quite often we also have goals. On occasion the prospect of reaching a goal is prohibited by a conviction we hold. In order to reach the goal I would have to violate a deeply held conviction. But the desire to obtain the goal is just too great thus we must find a way around the conviction. Quite often we just fall back on the old axiom: the end justifies the means. Or we may endeavor to convince ourselves that the conviction was wrong. Then we plow right on toward our goal, with guilty conscience in tow. I long ago began to suspect that before one can lie to others one must first lie to oneself.
What does all this amount to? Well the truth is just too much bother; it keeps getting in the way. And this is the attitude of the unsaved majority in our world. Thus if you, or I, confront the wrong people in this world with truths they don’t want to consider we may just experience the same retribution that Christ and many of His followers have. It is easier to just shut up and go along to get along. That will cause cognitive dissonance too so we will have to find a way to justify that also. One of the most popular solutions is to tell ourselves that if we speak up, it will not only cause me trouble, but will also cause trouble for my family. Thus we justify tolerating evil and wickedness.
Thus, truth is the world’s greatest threat! That is bad enough, but could it be that truth is the “church’s” greatest threat also? Why do we have so many different “Christian” denominations? Why are there so many different beliefs, doctrines, and theologies that all claim to be Christian? We have Calvinists and Arminians. The Calvinists are divided into more camps than I have been able to count. The Arminians are not far behind. We have eternal security churches and they are divided into every shade of belief. We have tongues churches and they are divided as well. Some preach three works of grace; others say that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and it goes on from there. “Holiness churches” have split and splintered from here to gone and back. Who can count all the different kinds of Baptist churches? And so it goes. A preacher’s son, Philip Wiley, years ago spoke of these different sects as all “having their one dollar a bottle elixir of sweet and bleeding Jesus Christ.” You say that that is very cynical attitude and you are correct. But if the churches were friends of truth there would not be all this division and Philip Wiley would not have had occasion to make such a statement.
Of course we all know that you and your church are right and everybody else is wrong. Either that, or you have convinced yourself that all these little differences don’t really matter that much. The Apostle Paul’s reaction to this was, “Is Christ divided?” The Catholic Church has seven sacraments, most Protestant Churches, two. Some want to add foot washing to the mix and the issue goes on from there to infinity, ad nauseam. If we can’t find anything else to fight about we argue over what is the proper mode of water baptism. Surely Almighty God is a very, very patient God indeed. As Moses interceded for the Israelites to keep God from destroying them, you can be sure that Christ is at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf or God would have wiped us all out long ago.
Please show me a religious sect that does not have some flaws in its doctrines and/or practices. Is there one out there anywhere that the Holy Spirit will put His sanction on and say they advocate the pure truth as it is in Jesus? Some sects were started by a reformer that tried to correct the errors he saw all around him. If the reformer was correct in his affirmations his group will not hold to the pure truth expounded for more than a generation. Other groups were started by some hair-brained revolutionary that thought he had discovered some new truth or one that everybody had overlooked for centuries. Of course others were started by someone who just liked the limelight and the wealth and prestige that come with it. We expound virtually anything and everything but truth, the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is not the first time I have written on this subject of truth, and likely not the last, but I just can’t get away from the fact that we don’t trust Jesus. We don’t trust the Holy Spirit to lead us; we don’t trust God. For you see Jesus is the Truth, the Holy Spirit is Truth and they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. When I say “we” I am being very generous as I rest in the assurance that I am in love with, and follow the truth.
You say you trust and obey God. Well then, when was the last time you held up a belief of yours and examined it to see if it can be sustained in light? For the overwhelming majority of those reading this I suspect that they have not done so within memory. As I have said, it is much easier to just go along to get along. You say you trust God but your machinations and “little white lies” testify otherwise. Indeed, is not truth the greatest threat to you and your cocoon of self assurance? Is it not the greatest threat to your world?
The Bible says that, “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” How many lies must you tell to qualify as being a liar? How big of lies must you tell? If I tell little white lies, do I qualify as a liar? If I only tell lies when I deem that the situation demands it, does that mean I qualify as being a liar? In asking these questions, is not cognitive dissonance at work here? There is a “still small voice” within you telling you the truth of the matter. And what is the truth of the matter? Well, most people just wouldn’t know how to live or operate in a world devoid of lies!