Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Willful Ignorance

I have a little rant to go on today. I don't usually do this, but something's gotten under my skin and I feel the need to express it.

You may have heard the saying, "Sincere, but sincerely mistaken." It gets tossed around like a ball in a backyard. We have disagreements and we claim the other person is wrong. It's natural. We believe what we believe because we sincerely believe it. I cannot imagine anyone would hold an opinion they know is wrong. At some point in this life, we are all wrong. We don't like it, and we like even less to admit it, but it's true. To be wise is to recognize this at all times and to forever double-check yourself. Wisdom takes council and learns. It doesn't blow in the wind of every opinion, but it learns. To learn is to correct oneself. Some people take their aversion to being wrong to an extreme, however. There are people who make their entire stand on their sense of being right. They stubbornly, and often willfully, refuse to look into other viewpoints and contrasting evidence. It is almost as if whatever their opinion is on a matter, that is God's opinion too. I go into this a little in the article My Opinion Is God's Truth.

But this time I've run into something I just need to write about so I can get it off my chest - one of the most blatant examples of willful ignorance I think I've ever seen.

I had a person just recently make the claim, "If you can't give me a verse, then your case doesn't exist." In other words, if you cannot find a verse or two that clearly states your entire case, then the entire case doesn't exist.
Were they right? No idea is valid if you cannot find an isolated verse to state that case?

At first it might sound reasonable. You should have Biblical evidence for your claims. I agree we should! Who would disagree with that? As Bereans Did is built on it. But when we look a little deeper at what is really being claimed - you need a proof text for any claim - then what at first sounds wise starts to reveal itself.

There are many things we each hold to be true that take far more than one or two verses to prove or disprove. The Bible has many verses!

For example, prove to me in one verse that the Messiah was to die and rise again.
Now, before you go off on Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 and Zechariah 12, remember you're building a case not providing single verses, but more importantly none of those chapters say the word Messiah. And before you throw Daniel 9: 24 at me, that is a single verse (well done on that), but it only mentions dying and doesn't say anything about rising.
We know now, after the fact, that Jesus is the Messiah, and Jesus did die and rise again, and these selections (plus many more) all foretold things Jesus would accomplish - but we cannot simply find one verse that sums it all up nicely. We have to put together a case from various evidence; a body of evidence. You in fact will not find most of what Jesus did being associated with the Messiah within the Old Testament. Some Jews complain about that. Thing is, they're technically right. That is because Jesus is far more than just the Messiah only. He is the Messiah ben David and the Messiah ben Joseph, also the son of man, the prince, the son of Adam, the son of David, the branch, the prophet Moses foretold, the suffering servant, the righteous sufferer, and etc. All of the imagery of all of those prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. We are so used to Jesus being the Messiah that we lump it all together under the term Messiah, but there was a lot more than Messiah going on there. You will not get the full picture of what Jesus was to accomplish simply by looking at verses about the Messiah, let alone a single verse only.

How do you know this? You study. Hopefully you listen to others who have already done most of the heavy lifting for you. How do you demonstrate this? You build a case. How would you convince a non-Christian of this? Not through proof-texting!

So, were they right that no idea is valid if you cannot find a proof text to state that case?
Of course not.

What sounded reasonable at first now reveals itself as passive aggressive. What sounded like a request for evidence turns out to be quite the opposite. It was nothing more than a means to remain willfully ignorant. Not a request for evidence, but a demand there can be none at all.

If you still suspect I might be misunderstanding the person, you should know I left some context out. I told the person about a point of history and I suggested they research it. I even gave the person some information and links to get them started in the right direction. They refused, and said they didn't want to study into it. When I questioned why they wouldn't want to study a topic, they demanded I provide a verse or the case doesn't exist.

Perhaps you are wondering what the topic was. It was the Godhead in the Old Testament. Prove that case in a single verse. It can't be done. Which is why I pointed them to evidence. Which is why they balked.

Now can you see how the demand for a verse was really just a way to remain willfully ignorant? They didn't want to read. They didn't want to study. They didn't want to challenge themselves. They didn't want to learn. In their mind, if they refused to look at the evidence then the evidence doesn't exist.

This all reminded me of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. If you can't see it, it assumes it can't see you. Anyone here a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? No?
Moving on.

My point is refusing to look at evidence does not mean there is no evidence. It isn't bold and courageous. Refusing to look does not magically erase information. Evidence exists or not regardless of whether we look at it or not. The only way to be sure it doesn't exist .. is to look.

That person simply loved their own opinion more than the truth. They were right, and everyone who wrote entire books to the contrary were all wrong, and that is that. The possibility of large quantities of information they had not considered was threatening and scary. What if they might be wrong? The implications could cause major alterations to their viewpoint. As I said earlier, people do not believe things they know are wrong. Their solution was simply to refuse to look at anything that challenges them. Problem solved! And that, my friends, is the textbook definition of willful ignorance.

If you really aren't interested in something, or if you really don't want to study, then don't. Nobody's forcing you. But if you're going to avoid an education, don't run your mouth like you know what you're talking about. There should be some kind of humility that comes with knowing you aren't informed. Yet, there wasn't.

Dear reader, please don't be like that person.

If you are, then you're really going to dislike us here. In our Welcome To ABD sidebar, we say, "As Bereans Did is a blog dedicated to a deeper investigation of the claims and doctrines of the Church of God movement." And so we are. Because how can we know who is right and who is wrong if we do not boldly investigate all of the facts on both sides, pray about it, and adjust ourselves? We cannot!
The authors here have each come from Armstrongism. We spent decades there. Some of us were teachers of that system. We know what the Church of God splinters teach. We made the scary decision to look at the the other evidence. We've lived both sides. Now, we compare and contrast so more people can do what we did, only easier.

In my post Escaping Armstrongism - Part I, I wrote it was giving myself permission to question and to be wrong that turned my life around.

What that person wanted from me was what they had been trained to expect: a proof-text. In Armstrongism, the conclusion comes before the evidence. They get that from their SDA roots. Proof-texting is established practice. In Armstrongism, what is often done is the proof-text is ripped it out of its context, an entirely new context is crafted for it, then it is plugged it back in and showcased as if it is proof positive for an entire line of thinking. That, and mis-using Strong's Concordance to improperly change the definitions of words. Bible doesn't say what you want? Change it! Strong's even tells you how to use it right up front, but the instructions are ignored. I could lay this utter failure to teach people how to study their Bibles at the feet of many churches.

Sadly, the way some people "look for evidence" could easily be the direct opposite of looking. It reminds me of the people who assert, "Jesus never said He was God." Not with the phrase they demand, no. But with other phrases, He absolutely did. And with a life that fulfilled the many prophecies I mentioned earlier, and with many displays of authority. He did many things only God does - for example, forgive. It was Jesus' way to avoid saying things directly, but to do signs and works. Even the Jews knew what Jesus was doing (JON. 10: 22-33). With all that weight of evidence and the cloud of witnesses, you would think people would just drop the argument. But no. They've found one phrase Jesus didn't say and they demand that is the one phrase Jesus must say. Their demands for evidence are in fact demands for ignorance. Willful ignorance.

Dear reader, please don't be like these people.

Read. Investigate. Pray.
The truth can take care of itself.


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11



Anonymous said...

Great articles you are providing. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Mind control is a real thing. Manipulation by deceitful men is a real thing. Crafty lies that sound almost like the truth.

Child Survivor said...

This reminds me of Adventists screaming "where did Jesus ever tell us He abolished the sabbath" or "where did Jesus say it was alright to eat pork?" This also goes on in Evangelical circles as well, that I won't get into on this platform, but they look for a precisely worded verse to avoid looking into what the scripture says about it in it's entirety. It's pure laziness when they do this. I also love it when they pull out a verse out of context and say "see??? it's right there!". Example...the "lawkeepers" love to pull out "faith without works is dead". But when you ask them what works James refers to throughout his letter, they either go silent or claim it doesn't matter. I feel for these people, because they put their own comfort ahead of God's word. Only God can change a heart...He changed ours and continues to do so daily. Peace out.