Thursday, November 20, 2008

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

What role, if any, does self deception still play in the Christian life?


Susan Barnes said...

I would like to think self deception doesn't play a role in the Christian life. But perhaps I'm naive?

Greg said...


Perhaps, we can say sd shouldn't play a role, so it's a nice thought that it doesn't. It seems however, that if we're still sinners and grace, redemption in Christ, and the power of the Spirit do not yet have a complete impact on us, that the possibility and sometimes actuality of sd may have to be taken into serious consideration.

Christains are sanctified and being sanctified. This seems to be one of the most prominent themes in the NT. If solely the former were true, the being sanctified could have been left out and there would be no danger of sd.

John said...

I wonder if we could say Eve was both deceived and self-deceived and because of that, and as a result of the fall, self deception plays a role in our lives. Hopefully as we grow in righteousness, being sanctified first and becoming sanctified throughout, truth will impact our lives in such a way that self deception becomes less and less.
At least, I pray for that.

Greg said...

Yes, good points. Thanks. I guess we can be deceived and self deceived too.

SD is one of the worst forms of deception because we are usually not aware of it until it's too late. The call is for a healthy dose of suspicion to start with, which may help contribute to sd, as you say, taking place less and less.

Anonymous said...

Lets take a look in church history:
Origen emasculated himself, Luther was a antiSemitic, Withfield and Wesley had differnt opinions about predestination and universal love.
Lets take a look in daily Christian life - some Christians ("although really searching for Gods will")come to the conclusion homosexuality is good, some come to the conclusion that it is sin.
I have my opinion about selfdeception, Greg will response challenging me, we will have a discussion ...
Whats the conclusion?
Scripture says (jeremiah 29,13)And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
We mostly are deeply convinced that we have the truth, that we searched for the truth enough, but if this was right Christianity would have more unity.
So, according to Jeremaiah and to Romans (God reveals himself in Nature)God is there and wants to answer
Ok, now you could respond: Does finding God and recognizing him in nature mean that we all have the same opinion?
My response: We dont need to agree about everything, but at least when we refer to ethics, because ideas have legs, right? So,here misconceptions about the true morality leads to bad consequences in daily life and to sin.
So, now I am losing contact to our actual topic. Well, why do we disagree in so many things, especially in tings that matter severly in Christian life?
I mentioned that Romans talk about Gods obvious revelation in nature but is also says that mankind doesnt want to accept it - conciously.
Well and Genesis 8,21 tells us "that the imagination (the strong desire) of man's heart is evil and wicked from his youth."
And how does mankind and Christianity and myself hide his maliciousness and pride and ...?
And how do we restrain the holy spirit and the truth about god?
selfdeception, because it is easier believing that everything is fine and that I am on the right way than realising that our descandants will damn us for our mistakes one day. And even when we realize this we wont get much better - thats depressing isnt it?
And why am I so negative about Christianity? Read my introduction and dont think those are the only example in Christian history.
selfdeception ...

Joshua said...

Greg, what would you see the difference being between asking your question and the same question excluding "the Christian?"

And while it's a broad question, how do you see American Christianity actually impacting self-deception, in terms of alliviating it or enabling? Do you in most instance see "Christians" as better off than say your secular tutorees?

Greg said...

Thanks for your comment. Where to start?

Church history has as many negatives as positives, and I wouldn't expect it to be otherwise.

Unity and disagreement. I think you have a good point about Christians having a lack of unity and disagreement on crucial matters. This, no doubt, has something to do with the way the Bible and world - as nature and culture are read. Not only do we fail to read either one very well, but we don't read them as in dialogue with each other. Having acknowledged this, however, it is not sufficient enough for me to be cynical and to discount the frequent references in Christianity to truth and love.

Getting better. I'm not depressed by my own or others mistakes and believe that it is possible to improve. There's a new way and a new day.

I looked up your reference of Genesis 8:21, but didn't find what you wrote there. Must be somewhere else. And one of us is right about that.

Greg said...

Thanks for your questions.

I asked my question because many people, including Christians, may not be aware that self deception has anything to do with their lives. In one way it could be a general question that anyone might need to reflect on, so I think it holds as a human question and not just a Christian one. Therefore, it is a human question, even before it is a Christian one, yet the latter is what I was most interested in hearing thoughts about.

It seems to me that many American Christians enable and don't alleviate sd. Love and truth can be dynamics that challenge sd, but when there isn't much of them around then sd tends to go unchallenged and therefore unnoticed. This is exactly the place for a hermeneutics of suspicion to play an important role in American Christianity.

As far as better off? I would say it all depends on who it is and where they really are.

Susan Barnes said...

I guess I don’t generally think in terms of people being self-deceived but reading these responses reminded me of an incident at a church service that I was involved with. Some people did something they were asked not to do. As I thought about why Christians would deliberate disobey a directive from someone who was in authority, I came to the conclusion they either thought it didn’t matter or that it wouldn’t be noticed. Now I realize they were self-deceived.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry. I apologize for having provoked too much.
Yes, with having in mind that we are often very selfdeceived we should go on and try to do our best like our forefathers did.

But Greg, are you sure that you didnt found what I wrote about Genesis 8,21?
I looked it up again and I quoted rightly

Greg said...

Good, but sad realization! It happens. Sd is, well, very sd. Thankfully. we are not left to this and redemption in Christ and a growing awareness of sd through the Spirit can help.

Greg said...

No need to be sorry. This a place to provoke and raise questions.

You're right about Genesis 8:21! Your citation is found in the broader context of the verse and chapter - so it is there and I'm wrong in having said that it must be found somewhere else. There you go. We can be right and wrong about things - how far this goes and on what issues has to be worked out.