Fundamentalist Cognitive Dissonance

The blog “Stuff Fundies Like” reposted a post entitled “Cognitive Dissonance” which I thought was worth sharing here. Read these examples, and then in the comments, why not see if you can come up with other examples of conservative Christians holding two mutually-contradictory assertions simultaneously?

We believe that Calvinism is a hindrance to evangelism…we also believe the Spurgeon and Edwards were the instruments great revivals.

We believe that praying written prayers is vain repetition…we also believe that praying the exact same words over breakfast every morning is a necessary and meaningful experience.

We believe that since canon of Scripture is closed, the Holy Spirit no longer gives direct revelation to people…we also believe that the Holy Spirit gives traffic directions and investment advice.

We believe that the Scriptures are the sole authority for our faith and practice…we also believe that Christian standards of dress and music somehow were all discovered centuries after the Scriptures were finished and include things not addressed therein.

We believe that every man has soul liberty and that every believer is a priest…we also believe that the pastor has complete authority to override that liberty any time he sees fit.

We believe that liberals have purposely corrupted our public school systems and lowered our education standards for their own political ends….we also believe that these semi-illiterate students are perfectly capable of understanding a four-hundred year old translation of the Scriptures.

We believe that the reason our church isn’t growing quickly is that the world is getting worse and worse as the end times approach and men’s hearts wax cold…we also believe that our soul winning program has broken records every year for the last 20 years.

We believe that good will always overcome evil…we believe that evil will always overcome good.

  • Dan McClellan

    How about, “we are guided by the Holy Spirit to discern truth from error, and so we know the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. . . . We also believe that if you acknowledge one error in the Bible you have to throw out the entire book and acknowledge that Christianity is false, since it would be impossible to know what is true and what is not.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Indeed! And on a related note, “Fallible human reason is untrustworthy…and I am 100% sure that my reasoning about the Bible’s inerrancy is completely sound!” :-)

  • Steve Gibbs

    …and “we believe in preaching the word faithfully from the pulpit every Sunday; sufficient for God, without descending down to cabbage-bilge-watery issues of culture and season (yish!), to bring people into our community, as if attracted by a large horseshoe magnet… …we also believe in training up and preparing people to be acutely sensitive in their overseas’ mission objectives (missional antennae pinging like sonar blips) to ensure Ethical Cultural Hermeneutical Authenticity reeks from our very sandals..”

  • go_4_tli

    “We believe that science is a worthy pursuit, since the truth has nothing to fear from error. We also believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that all living things were magically poofed into existence in much their present form, and the only reason anyone might think so is because they’re a deceiver or deceived.”

    • go_4_tli

      Sorry. “… might think OTHERWISE is because…” Yeef.

  • jtownsle

    I’ll answer this with a contrarian perspective–why are apparent opposites a bad thing? My first MA thesis on the mind/body problem was theologically-based heavily on the frame produced in Neidhardt and Loder’s book, “The Knight’s Move: The Relational Logic of the Spirit in Theology and Science.” In it, they take a stab at incorporating the logic behind quantum physics into the logic of theology. The debate from the late 1800s about light was whether it was a particle or a wave–two opposites. Physicists discovered that it is both particle and wave at the same time, or perhaps more one than another depending on the context. Theologically, we can look at contradictory opposites like–was Jesus God or human, are human souls body or mind? Perhaps many of these “contradictions” are beyond the scope of our current lens, and there is an unimaginable holism rather than a clearly delineated dualism.

    • Steve Gibbs

      Do like your ‘duality as intrinsic’ to existence notion JT; reminded me a little of Voltaire’s Candide and the ‘best of all possible worlds’ narrative. That sense of rational pragmatism (Leibnizean Rationalism maybe) within ordinary existence that warmly accepts the world as optimal in whatever state we find it (conservativism I naughtily suggest); whilst the pointy-elbowed idealists (heady optimists who are really angst-ridden searchers for their own significance) are crashing through to a false utopia (post-structuralists), possibly… My argument against this is the gradual nihilism that ultimately emerges from pragmatic resignation to dominant dualities. Modernity appears bound up with this ‘relational logic’; and of what Huxley termed ‘dreadful joy’ (referring to his visit Los Angeles); dialogue between horror and beauty (ala American Beauty). Problem with modern dialogue/dualities is, in its current season, Bauman is suggesting that ‘the people’ are resisting dialogue itself; exiting engagement with ‘the dual’ so the ligaments between these ‘opposites’ are thinning as no-one no longer knows why the context (institutions/churches etc) they inhabit are there.

  • newenglandsun

    My parents are a good example of this. On Sundays, they teach a discussion at my house that other of our friends show up for and teach how we don’t have to emphasize so many different parts of the Bible in our lives. Throughout the week (and even on Sundays too), they emphasize how people are falling in morality due to gay marriage and feel a need to emphasize certain teachings of the Bible as necessary (penal substitution and the Trinity, etc.) all the while saying that it is okay to walk upon something new. I always end up very confused.


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