Having walked through one example, in the previous episode, of how an approach that is “self-deceit-aware” can reveal that a popular, evangelical belief is held because it is useful and self-serving, I want to analyze another, popular evangelical belief as well as several church situations, all using the same perspective of self-deceit.
My second example involves the popular evangelical belief that God’s will is “always being done” or that God is “always in control.” This belief is widespread despite such obvious biblical indications to the contrary as Paul’s writings about “principalities and powers,” the broad understanding that God’s kingdom as “already” inaugurated through Jesus but God’s full reign as “not yet” here, and the Disciples’ Prayer—often called the Lord’s Prayer—where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray that God’s will should “be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If this were already the case Jesus would surely know (and there would be no reason to teach his disciples to ask for it).
In addition, there are practical, experiential indications to the contrary. Particularly, if God’s will is “always being done” on earth then this means that God’s will is always being done in my life. And because doing God’s will and sinning are mutually exclusive, this would indicate that I do not sin. At all! It is difficult to imagine anyone who is a Christian actually believing that s/he does nothing to contravene right relationship with God, herself, or with others.
So, given but a few minutes reflection one would think that even the most ardent supporter of this view would pause to reconsider its validity, if not reject it outright. But in numerous conversations with those holding this view I have never seen any such person even hesitate when presented with this evidence. Indeed, I have instead listened to them offer the most contorted logic and have been presented with counter-arguments laden with contradictions, double-standards and pure foolishness, all in support of this view.
Why? If this belief is at least quite questionable, if not outright wrong, yet evidence and strong arguments do not avail in any way to change the views of those who hold it, then this view is obviously not held for its truthfulness. If that is the case, then what “other reason” is there for such staunch adherence in the face of such contrary evidence?
To answer this, we turn to a method of investigation best suited to reveal hidden reasons, or motives: a “self-deceit aware” approach. For example, we ask: a) What are the benefits of holding such a belief? b) Who or what is served, or What needs or concern are met, by holding such a belief? c) What is the result from the perspective of the holder versus the perspective of others?