Blinded and Deceived: A Theological Reflection on Why Unbelievers See the World Differently

A believing friend recently expressed confusion over why a family member believes and affirms an ideology troubling her. This friend stated how a family member affirmed liberal ideologies which troubled her greatly, and then she wondered why her own family members are so different from her in religious and political orientation.

I suspect my friend is not alone in wondering how people come to the conclusions they do. Why do people think the way they do? Further, why do people act the way they do? What makes one person right and another person wrong? Is truth merely a subjective personal construct or can it be objectively True?

These are important questions that must be answered carefully. The answers one has to such questions as these arise from a particular worldview. All people have a particular set of beliefs about reality – a worldview. James Sire defines worldview as

“a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.” [1] (emphasis mine)

All people, regardless of ethnicity, family background, or geographic region affirm a worldview, even though they may not use that language to describe what they believe about reality. One must ensure that his beliefs about reality are grounded in what is actual or true and not imagined. Why would one go on believing something that is false intentionally?

These beliefs or worldview affirmations do not appear in a vacuum. Various factors impact the worldview one adopts, whether consciously or unconsciously. Some factors that impact the development of a worldview are one’s childhood environment, religion, even the absence of a stated religion, emotions, and life experiences. Each factor contributes in one way or another to the beliefs one has about reality. Beliefs should be tested for truth and based on reality. What then is reality? Who gets to define truth?

Truth Corresponds with Reality

Jamie Dew and James Foreman provide us with helpful insight on these important philosophical questions which directly influence the worldview we choose to affirm. They note that there are “generally speaking, three different definitions for truth: the correspondence theory of truth, coherentism, and pragmatism”. [2] After a careful explanation of what each theory teaches, the authors argue that Christians can only affirm the correspondence theory. The correspondence theory of truth teaches that “truth is defined as that which corresponds to reality. In other words, true propositions or statements are required to fit with, or line up with what we find in the world.” [3]

Some readers at Everyday Theology might be surprised to learn that there are people who do not believe humans can even trust their five senses to perceive reality. This is a matter of epistemology or how we know what we know. Those who would say something like, “I cannot trust my eyes to tell me that you are standing in front of me” have a distorted view of how the sensory experience works. This problematic epistemology did not arise out of nowhere, but in in the context of postmodern thinking.

But how did we get to this place where people deny the existence of their own brain because they cannot see it? How did postmodernism or subjectivity take hold on the world?

As noted above, thought processes and ideologies do not occur in a vacuum. Space will not permit a thorough treatment various contours in history that have led to the current epistemological crisis and increased secularism that troubles Christians who affirm that the Bible is true and therefore so is its message that all humans are sinners in need of redemption through Jesus the Messiah. I recommend F. Leroy Forlines’ work, The Quest for Truth: Theology for Postmodern Times for a thorough explanation on this. Forlines notes that “The affinity of postmodern thought with the thinking of Friedrich Nietzche (1844-1900) is recognized.” [4]


It is helpful for us to turn our attention to Scripture as we near the end of this post. Why do people so readily believe what is false and deny what is true? How can we be sure that what we believe is true? These questions are relevant to all of us. Whether you have had some education or little, you cannot help but wonder why there is a large denial of truth altogether. For example, why do some people struggle to understand why Christians are against abortion? [5]

It all comes down to a great deception. Your unbelieving friends and family view the world differently or have a different worldview from you because they are not believers. They cannot accept the Bible and its truth claims because they have been blinded and deceived by Satan. I know that is a bold claim-that they are blind and we are not, but Jesus said that he was the Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6). While we must be humble, those who have accepted the Bible as divine revelation through the agency of the Holy Spirit are guardians of Truth.

Reflect on Paul’s words to the Corinthian church.

 "But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus's sake.  For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:3-6, CSB).

This passage teaches us that others reject the truth of the bible because they are blinded. Satan is the great deceiver and he has blinded people’s minds so that they suppress the truth and even attempt to deny it. The truth of the matter is, we are all sometimes blinded and deceived through sin. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who removes the blinders from our eyes and enables us to express saving faith in Jesus and consequently all the truth claims of the Bible! Only through the calling of the Spirit can blinders be removed.

Conclusion

Don’t stop praying for your lost friends and family. Be patient with them when they disagree with you about religion or politics. They don’t see things as you do primarily because they are not believers. Pray that God will draw these people to himself. Without the agency of the Spirit, no one becomes a believer (see John 6). [6] Give them grace because you too were blinded through sin. Even now, as a Christian, you can be deceived by Satan. That’s why you must ground yourself in the Scriptures and seek what God says. Continually ask the Spirit to remove the blinders from your own eyes.


[1] James W Sire, The Universe Next Door (p. 20). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] James K. Dew and James Foreman, How Do We Know: An Introduction to Epistemology, (IVP: Downers Grove, Illinois, 2020), 39.

[3] Dew and Foreman, 43.

[4] F. Leroy Forlines, The Quest for Truth: Theology for Postmodern Times, (Randall House: Nashville, Tennessee, 2006), 15. Forlines begins his treatment on page nine. The section entitled “The History of Epistemology in Western Thought” is both compelling and informative.

[5] Christians affirm the value of every life as created in God’s image. God’s word is true and therefore its teaching against murder is equally true. Females who have had an abortion should be treated with love and grace while practice should be condemned.

[6] I unashamedly write from the perspective of a Free Will Baptist. Perhaps in the future I will write about the false assumptions people believe about Free Will Baptists. We do not believe nor have we ever, that an individual can be saved on his own will power. We affirm with our Calvinist brothers and sisters that no one is saved apart from the drawing and invitation of the Spirit. Whereas they see election or God’s call as irresistible, we Arminians view it as resistible indeed.

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