COGNITIVE DISSONANCE (and the Inevitable Fork in the Road)

         The majority lives in a fallen world. It is a world largely constructed by people separated from the Creator, most of whom have no desire to know Him, much less honor Him. This is especially true of many people who have managed to acquire great wealth and power.

         This fact presents an always interesting conundrum for those who choose to acknowledge the paradox of wealthy holders of great power who refuse to honor the Creator while living in very mortal bodies which will one day cease to exist. Yes, they hold great power now. They are incredibly wealthy. The current world of man has been created according to their will and blueprint, and most inhabitants of the planet are so caught up in mere survival they have no time or ability to consider such knowledge.

         We assume the world is what it is according to a much higher benevolent power. But this is simply not true. The world of mankind has the devil as its author, in association with sinful, fallen humans, much more than it has anything to do with the Creator.


         Cognitive Dissonance is defined as “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.” [1]

         In other words, truth and untruth are both believed as truth at the same time, which causes discord in one’s cognition or ability to understand until one can distinguish between the two. It means primarily that a person has accepted an untruth as a truth and had believed in something that is not true as though it were, and are thus conflicted when presented with actual truth. Since both untruth and truth can never comfortably exist together in a sound mind, one or the other must eventually be rejected. Indeed, accepted reality is reality until someone shines a light on darkness, and reveals accepted darkness and untruth for what it is.

         Most will reject newly-presented actual truth since they have lived according to a false belief system or set of false beliefs their entire life and find it far too challenging and uncomfortable to walk away from them. The untruth has incorporated itself throughout their being and has long since been given life through willing and passive acceptance. For the most part it has never been properly challenged. Since no one has spiritual truth until they are presented with it at some point in their life, people unconsciously appropriate belief systems that are not true though they believe them to be. It is their belief in that which is false that makes it true to them. It is their acceptance of the unreal that makes it real to them.

         Those hungry for spiritual truth do not have this problem. They had only accepted untruth because it had been foisted upon them somehow but know it fails to satisfy. Because they strive for total heart and soul satisfaction and a true answer to their hunger, they never cease their pursuit of truth until they come in contact with it. When they are presented with it they find it relatively easy to rid themselves of all untruth regardless of what it costs them personally. This is why the Lord is much more able to lead spiritually hungry people to His Truth and to Himself.


         The Lord tells us the truth, and because the truth He tells is so shocking and so apart from mankind’s false world views it is usually instantly rejected by most. It is too uncomfortable. What He says seems too far-fetched and simply cannot be right. It flies in the face of one’s accepted reality. It goes against one’s culture. One does not want to become a deviant within his or her group.

         For the world of man, this response is perceived as appropriate, because, again, the world of man is composed for the most part by lovers of it and those who reject the Creator who are openly rebellious toward Him. It makes no sense for them to accept the Lord Jesus or consider His teachings. They would have to make wholesale changes in every part of their falsely constructed lives to integrate His teachings and they find the whole idea completely asinine.

         “But you will die one day, sooner than you think, and will have to account for your life.” This they soundly reject because it is the only intelligent and reasonable thing to do. They cannot fathom any wholesale changes in their life that might compromise or remove their great power and wealth.

         “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” [Luke 18:22-24] [2]

         This young archon was certainly not one of the world’s richest and powerful men, though he possessed incredible worldly wealth. Let’s say someone tried to tell him, “Hey, your money is only so good for so long. It is currently losing value. It can never be translated into the next world. You trust in it way too much. This is actually destroying you. You are putting your faith in an adulterous mistress that will turn on you in a second. It is only a matter of time. You do not possess it. It possesses you.” Well, he would see that he had come suddenly to a very distinct fork in the road, because these are two competing, polar-opposite ideas. He would be forced to choose one or the other. And even though he cannot reject the obvious facts he was just presented with, the odds are almost 100% that he would make no change.

         Why? Because the fake world he lives in is comfortable and though he knows it can never last forever he would rather have comfort now than risk it all on possible comfort in a possible next world. Many people never consider such opportunities at redemption and therefore stay deceived about the nature of reality and life. It is not until they die (that is, until the very temporary house of clay they currently live in wears out or is damaged sufficiently in some way) that they are confronted with the actual truth. Most are and will be shocked. And it will be too late.

         So, the few great power brokers who have most of the wealth of this world never change a thing regarding their own eternity and continue to put their faith in the fairy tale that they will somehow live forever and/or get away with all their personal sin and the destruction and pain they caused so many in the gaining of their wealth and power. And there will be a special place in hell for them. It is their choice.

         But for those who actually believe what the Creator teaches, and applies it wholesale, they discover everything He said is absolutely true and their formerly blind eyes are opened. They see what they had never seen before or could ever see. By trusting and obeying the Lord Jesus, they become aware of the deception they were formerly blinded by and are set free. They then see this fallen world of mankind for what it actually is. They exit the world at the inevitable fork in the road and enter the kingdom.

         Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” [John 14:6]

         If you feel confused, uninformed or not properly informed, or cognitively conflicted regarding truth, and are not sure what course to take to remedy the situation, I suggest you first begin growing closer to the Lord. His light will shine upon the areas that have need of it and in time He will fill the voids with His truth.


         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

          Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church

[1] © Merriam Webster

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on September 27, 2016, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Good commentary on cognitive dissonance. You are right…that’s the reason false teaching is difficult to uproot.


    • Thanks David. It is a great challenge to wake people up in general regarding the Lord’s truth, but the challenge is just as great to wake up Christians in general regarding the false teachings they have been subject to.

      We all share the same New Covenant writings but have somehow come up with hundreds if not thousands of different interpretations of those writings. One central reason for this is that most who call themselves Christians either skip the Book of Acts entirely or skip it on an experiential level. Without the infilling light of the Lord’s Holy Spirit one has little chance to receive the full truth and must therefore figure out what they can with an unregenerate mind. This is in part why so much of Christianity is intellectually based. Accepted interpretations by millions of Christians that do not properly line up with the Lord’s original teachings prove that the human mind, as brilliant as it may be, is a bad substitute for the Lord’s presence.

      We are instructed by the apostle Paul to have the Mind of Christ but this is impossible without a genuine Upper Room experience. It is why Cognitive Dissonance prevails so heartily among traditional Christians, most whom often cannot wrap their heads around truth. It is in part because they are in possession of so much untruth which conflicts with new light. It’s confusing. Most revert to their long time prior cultural arrangements rather than strike out as a spiritual pioneer, which is exactly what the Lord Jesus instructed each of His followers to do.

      Be blessed.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. “Without the infilling light of the Lord’s Holy Spirit one has little chance to receive the full truth and must therefore figure out what they can with an unregenerate mind. This is in part why so much of Christianity is intellectually based. Accepted interpretations by millions of Christians that do not properly line up with the Lord’s original teachings prove that the human mind, as brilliant as it may be, is a bad substitute for the Lord’s presence.”

    Amen. The Bible is a spiritual book, not an intellectual book. The things of the spirit are spiritually perceived—they are not to be figured out in our head. Spiritual Christianity is of Jerusalem; Intellectual Christianity is of Babylon. The greatest enemies of the Cross are not atheists or Muslims; the greatest enemies of the Cross are Babylonish Christians.

    Too many “Christians” know all about good and evil, but reject Christ (the Garden of Eden revisited).

    The Idolatry of Intelligence

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post on cognitive dissonance reminds me of the life and death of Voltaire:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent again, Tim. Thank you.

      Many of those in the throes of death are often wracked by something physical breaking down and malfunctioning while in a relatively peaceful mental state. Others are wracked by guilt—a guilt infused upon them as rushes within a limited mind crashing back and forth with no relief, knowing they lived a life of sin and are now paying for it as did Voltaire. It is an incredibly sad thing—powerfully sad—that a man or woman leans on intellect or pride or good looks or some other temporary ability or attribute that the bearer had next to nothing to do with by way of acquisition, but by the blessing of a higher power who was soundly rejected, and that so many of these are “Christians.”


      The intellect is a phenomenal tool when subjected properly to the Lord’s use but makes for a terrible master that will only lead one very far astray.

      Keep up the great work Tim. I appreciate you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Here’s another example of cognitive dissonance that I came across this week: The back of the church bulletin of the Baptist church my daughter goes to up the road (a pretty good church, mind you, which makes this even more scary), quotes 1 Jn.5:2-3, which states, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.”

    After a series of pithy comments about this verse, it then offers its commentary/interpretation of it: “John wrote that we know we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments. We are not talking about the Ten Commandments, or the Law of Moses, but the many commandments that God gave to His church as recorded in the gospels and the epistles. When we love God, we will keep the commandments concerning our relationship with Him.

    Speaking of cognitive dissosance….oy veh!!

    I’m quite sure that when I read this passage of scripture, that John is clearly referring to the Torah. How could he be referring to anything else? He doesn’t say keep the “apostles’ commandments, or Jesus’ commandments, but God’s commandments, which are the Ten Commandments and the rest of Torah. Very straightforward. But the theological gymnastics that church people go through to justify Replacement Theology is astounding to me. And, like I said, this is a good church. It’s much worse in most churches. People aren’t being taught anything, just entertained and provided babysitting for their toddlers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David. Theology can be confusing…

      I make my final and absolute appeal to authority to the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus who actually fulfilled the Law of Moses. He obviously never spoke against the real Torah and Prophets. But He did question interpretations: “You have heard that it was said…” In other words, it appeared to His observers that He was adding to the Law but He was actually bringing forth its original intent. He taught on this subject relatively often. He was in essence being an apologist for the original delivery, since He is the Living Word. He could only be exact and pure in every way with regard to it.

      With regard to the bulletin commentary on the 1 John 5 passage, I agree with you that liberties were taken which made John’s intent muddled and confusing. But again, there is only one Law of Moses and the Lord honored and taught it exactly down to the very yod and vav.


      Liked by 2 people

      • Exactly. The only reason to mess with John’s text is to justify classic Christian anti-Judaism.


        • Well, there are actually probably several possible reasons. As I indicated regarding Cognitive Dissonance in general, a great many Christians are operating at a disadvantage because they collectively possess such wide variations of Biblical knowledge and the interpretations thereof, and introduce man-made doctrines into the mix as well. There has no doubt been an anti-Jewish perspective among some Christians dating back centuries, but many Christians of today do not share that bias. They do, however, have biases against the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus whether they know it or not, as borne out by their many specific denominational beliefs which act as competing doctrines against the Lord’s original curriculum and hence, incongruent beliefs which promote a muddled understanding, and hence Cognitive Dissonance. This problem is, of course, greatly pronounced when it reaches the status of pulpits, and when Christians defend their own incorrect beliefs which includes a resultant rejection of truth.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes I agree with all of that. I think you perhaps (from my vantage point) underestimate the depth of anti-Judaism of many believers in mainstream Christianity, since most of the core beliefs of Christianity are bastardized by the intentional efforts of early church fathers to separate the Roman Christians from the synagogue entirely. Perhaps you don’t underestimate it at all but just chose not to highlight that. I agree, generally, with everything you are saying. In fact, your book is on my hit list to acquire and read.


            • Thanks David. I began getting into the Hebrew Roots Movement, or whatever it was called then, in the early 1980s. It was very quickly absolutely fascinating to me because it allowed for an incredible opportunity to gain much greater understanding of the Lord, His teachings, and everything else Hebrew that had been suppressed, simply not acknowledged, or otherwise lost to history. And I certainly agree with you that in the early centuries there is no question that an anti-Hebrew paradigm (I guess we can call it that), was pushed due to an extreme prejudice by later “church fathers” (it’s a term we must use to some degree since it is familiar but I personally think it’s beyond goofy), and this prejudice remained for centuries.

              I have tried very hard when the opportunities were presented to explain this truth in all the years since (hard to believe it’s been that long already), with not as much common ground being gained as I would have liked, because like all New Testament Truth, CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL DO NOT LIKE BEING CONFUSED WITH FACTS.

              Here’s a humorous story from the late 1980s: A friend of mine was teaching a Hebrew Roots class and there were visitors from various churches and persuasions. At the end, he overheard a couple of nice Catholic ladies talking about the brand new knowledge they gained in the class. One of them said, “It is so strange to think of Jesus as a Jew when His mother was such a good Catholic!”

              Liked by 2 people

  5. That is a classic! Haha! Precious ladies. That’s too funny!


  6. Hello RJ! So grateful the Lord has introduced us today via WordPress; it is such a blessing and joy to see how Jesus has revealed and wrought Himself into others.

    This is a great article! I disagree with one point, however – those of us hungry for spiritual truth are NOT out of the woods, so-to-speak. Christians have two selves to discern between: our old selves already crucified with Christ, and our new selves united with God in Christ. Our hourly spiritual battle is discerning truth and not reacting from our old self but responding of our new self in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Praise God, Jesus is the author AND perfector of our faith, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to act in accordance with God’s will. Yet we have our part in this walk of faith: for example, “We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at first.” (Hebrews 3:14).

    Sorry I am not as succinct as I’d like to be here. My point is that even “mature” Christians used mightily by God still resist change via what remains of their old selves; what you’ve written here applies to us ALL until the Lord takes us home.

    God bless you! I look forward to reading more here…


    • Hi Deanna. Good to meet you. Thank you for the insightful comment.

      I re-read my article to see the point of disagreement better. I think I can make it clear by stating that people who are hungry for truth and remain hungry will eventually reject anything not of the truth and accept whatever is of the truth. We often carry things around we assume are true because we have never tested them or subjected them to proper scrutiny, that is, the light of the Lord. This is why we need the Lord Jesus as our Teacher. We cannot possibly receive His entire curriculum all at once, however. It is a process. Hence, remaining hungry and desirous of truth is ongoing. We are out of the woods in the sense that if we remain close to and fully committed to the Lord, He can continually reveal to us greater truth, and thus we will not remain forever stuck in deception regarding any part of His teachings and commandments.

      Be blessed Deanna, and thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

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