Resisting truth

Ancient writers as well as contemporary authors have grappled with understanding why people resist truth. Their range of suggestions is immense.

One contemporary scholar proposes that our intuition leads the way in resisting truth. His model begins with our desire for social acceptance shaping our intuition.

According to him, once our intuition influences us to either lean toward or away from something, then our rational minds jump into high gear justifying those feelings. In his perspective the role of our thinking focuses primarily upon confirming our intuitions, not objectively exploring what is true. Thus if someone’s social group might incline one’s intuition to lean away from what is true, his or her mind will rationalize how to reject it.

Another scholar, Gregory Ganssle, has argued people change their beliefs to fit their loves. He says people are less ready to change their loves to fit their beliefs. Thus, people must want to believe something before they will seriously consider the reasons why they should believe.

Centuries ago Augustine suggested that because people love truth, they do not want to accept they have been deceived. According they are unwilling to be convinced they are wrong, even when presented with what is true (Confessions 10.23.34).

Regardless of the mechanics, I suspect we have all witnessed people resisting what is true. Perhaps we have witnessed this in politics, religion, science or medicine. Because embracing truth might not be as straightforward as we assume, we ought to pause to consider a story Jesus told.

In the Parable of the Sower Jesus illustrated four ways in which the truth of God’s word can intersect with our lives. In three of these scenarios truth failed to transform people. However, what Jesus taught next might be even more significant.

Having emphasized the importance of “how one hears,” Jesus pressed forward. An authentic hearing will not remain hidden within us. It will burst forth in behavior that can be seen by all (Luke 8:16-17).

Jesus punctuated the significance of the Parable of the Sower by ending with a warning. “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away” (Luke 8:18).

Regardless of the mechanics, we need to be open to the truth of God’s word. If we desire to have ears that truly hear, what might we do?

  • Ensure that we love God and God’s commendation above all other social influences.
  • Train our intuition by hiding God’s word in our hearts that we might not sin.
  • Be humble before God’s word allowing it to guide our footsteps.
  • And finally, be sure we live out the message and do not merely listen to it. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves.

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