The first thing that is relevant here is that this is a secular article. It was written by unbelievers to analyze the actions of unbelievers in response to truth (most political participants in democracy and these studies are unbelievers), and since unbelievers want to believe lies, presenting them with the truth is going to give them an allergic reaction.
Basically, the “backfire” is caused by the unbelievers subscribing to a set of lies as the one that will take God down, and they want everyone else to subscribe to the same set of lies they believe in order to supposedly increase their personal odds of supplanting God and controlling everything. Present them with truth that threatens their preferred God rebellion route, it threatens them and causes an emotional reaction.
Second, the phenomenon he’s describing is a form of political idolatry common among unbelievers. Many unbelievers in America expect the government to save them, while at the same time, they sit around and complain that it isn’t doing a good enough job of saving them. Political Ideologies are religions, or substitutes for religion, whether liberal, conservative, green, feminist, whatever. Nobody will walk up to you and say “I subscribe to the feminist religion and I believe that women are inherently superior to men” but they act like it. For more info on that, check out Political Visions and Illusions by David Koyzis - he is a Christian who explains this phenomenon in detail.
Note that unbelievers often subscribe to multiple idols to supposedly increase the odds of success of their God rebellion, since they haven’t caught onto the fact that God has infinite power and their success rating for said rebellion will always be zero. But Christians can believe in idols too - we have a residual sin nature - and many foolish Christians believe a certain political ideology is consistent with their faith on a blind basis.
Even worse are the people who believe that Christianity is a political movement and that is all it ever was, which is theologically wrong and misses the point of our faith. If you want to know how people got to that belief, I advise checking out Reason, Faith, and Revolution by Terry Eagleton. That is a good book for all you politically interested forumers, but keep in mind it was written by an unbeliever who believes that Christianity is a political ideology and that’s what is important to him.
True Christian faith doesn’t “backfire” as the article describes. I’m not going to get angry if I find out that you’re an unbeliever, because that doesn’t affect my eternal destination and my standing before God. Jesus Christ died for my sins, rose again on the third day, and I believe the truth. Your disagreement with that can’t take that away from me. Your choice to take the broad path to destruction doesn’t affect my eternal destination with God forever.
Thus, we have no cause to fear the government and political winds, for those can only kill our bodies. (Like the vaccine can only kill our bodies.) People who believe in Christianity’s power to influence the government are really just believing in the government as an idol. They have just smeared a Christian veneer over their sword-worshipping unbelief.
So I never thought the vaccine was going to save me. Many unbelievers believe that their God-rebellion plans were imperiled by the pandemic and they are trusting in the vaccine to “save” them from God’s sovereignty smashing their rebellion agenda. They expected the government to be an asset in their God-rebellion by saving them from the virus, and they are using this vaccine as confirmation of their belief in government to save them. This is a false belief because God is also sovereign over the vaccine, as we have now discovered courtesy of the information Jessie gave us. Apparently it was God’s sovereignty that some of us need to die right now, and people are fighting God’s sovereignty because they are still under the power of death.
The false belief of the vaccine as salvation from death, masks, and lockdown (I still have to wear a mask on campus by the way and it is the worst) is not to be confused with the logical calculation that I made back in May when I decided to get the vaccine. Part of said calculation was the idea that I am healthy and strong, so I would be likely to survive the vaccine if it proved to be a problem. I did view it as a risk, but I also viewed going without it as a risk of getting the virus, failing my semester of college, and spreading the virus to my vulnerable friends, of which I have many. It’s not salvation, but it is showing my friends, including an immunocompromised unbeliever friend, that I care about them.
Despite all that, the Delta variant is coming anyway. If God wants us to get sick, we will get sick, and if God wants us to die, we are going to die. And there is nothing the unbelievers can do to stop it.
Cognitive dissonance is when you believe two contradictory things in your head to be true at once. It comes part and parcel with believing lies. Our brains, designed to be in perfect harmony with God and only believe truth.
What unbelievers consider an open mind is to believe more lies, thus, they tell people to embrace cognitive dissonance, which is essentially mental destruction. To have a truly open mind, one must only believe truth and not believe anything else to be true that isn’t.
You don’t have to believe anything about politics. Politics is just hordes of unbelievers throwing lies at each other to try to take down God by controlling the government. (Never mind that government actually has a God-mandated purpose that has nothing to do with salvation, but if we all agreed that it should do that, and only that, we would largely have no need for politics. After all, when Jesus comes back politics will basically be over.) There is no truth in the arena, except the truth that is actually there. And you probably don’t know what that truth actually is, because the unbelievers hide it in college classes that you don’t have enough time or interest to take. If you’re on the inside of the unbeliever machine, if you’re a fly on the wall at Pfizer who has studied vaccines for years, you know things. If you’re on the outside, you don’t know the whole truth and you’re probably being lied to, at least a little bit. After all, I didn’t know about the side effects until after they put the first dose in my arm.
A mind that is only open to truth is open to a lot more. Because it’s the lies that close your mind, not truth - if you believe a lie, you’re not open to the possibility that it could be false, because to believe a lie is to ignore God’s truth and the possibilities in God’s sovereignty that actually may exist. Failure to change your beliefs in the face of the truth is not avoiding cognitive dissonance, it’s the result of cognitive dissonance, aka lies believed, that already exist.
Now before I let everyone go, I need to add something to this post before you all start accusing each other of being closed-minded and thus believing lies and having cognitive dissonance. @Abigail_Eggsong
When children start out, they are immersed in the beliefs of their parents and pretty much adopt them wholesale. This is a good thing for most people. Consider:
But it leaves children with a blurry line as to what they actually believe about many of the the things their parents told them. Most of them assume that what their parents told them is reality, as children. This can look closed-minded to an adult, but that is just the kid obeying Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 which they are biblically mandated to do.
So at some point, you will get to the point where Ephesians 6:1 no longer applies to you. At this point, you will need to decide what you, Insert Your Name Here, believe, independent of your parents and family. This process is called “growing up psychologically” (Dr. Paul Meier’s term), in which you take off the parental overcoat of injunctions about who they told you are supposed to be, examine it, and take what belongs to what you want to become in Christ.
Most of you had and have very good parents and will sail through this process without issue, likely without even realizing it is going on. And the process of disregarding an injunction doesn’t have to be painful or a matter of lies and truth - my dad is an engineer, and one of his injunctions was: you have to wake up early and can’t stay up late at night. Now that’s great for an engineer, but a freelance writer and web designer doesn’t need it and actually does better without it. It sure didn’t make any sense with all the 11:59 PM college deadlines and was making me 100% miserable.
So I threw it out and completely disregarded it. And there was never anything wrong with that. It’s just something that makes sense in my dad’s life that makes no sense in my own.
But of course, if you didn’t have good parents or you find out that your parents have been lying to you, especially about God, when you reach the Ephesians 6:1 epoch you will find out that your mind is very far away from reality. Or maybe, a little ways away. Then, you will encounter cognitive dissonance and mental pain. A few lies that you have believed is a little pain. A lot of lies is a lot of pain. Needless to say, for me this process was murderously hard, because I had an active abuser trying to force on me the injunctions I was getting rid of, and since many of them were based on lies, I was obliged to God to get rid of them. (Yes, just disregarding the “don’t stay up late” injunction got me so much abuse and flak, like, seriously.)
Obviously, pastors and spiritual leaders you accepted while growing up can also be a part of this process. When you turn 18, you become responsible for your beliefs and making sure that they align with Scripture. If they don’t, God will send trials and tribulations into your life - he will correct you. That correction when you first encounter it can be hard to accept.
But that isn’t the point. The point is, we are all in different points along this process. Some of us have completed it. Some of us are still children. Some of us are in the middle, or stuck in the middle. I view myself as largely having finished the process now. I still have things to learn in my relationship with God, to be sure.
So the closed-minded accusation isn’t very useful, and can even be hurtful. Mature believers consider possibilities among themselves without backfiring or arguing, but if someone is still a kid, this process is unwise. Likewise, if someone is stuck in this process and is suffering from mental health symptoms, it’s not their fault that their parents lied to them. So we need to realize that not everyone is on your level, that doesn’t mean that God didn’t save them. God can use anybody. Those who have been to the bottom of lies believed are equipped to help those at the bottom repair themselves; those who have not fly above as an inspiration to us all. Let us all press on and show grace to each other, please.