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14 Responses to “Cognitive Resistance”

  1. Kyle Vitasek says:


    This may be an obvious implicity in your argument, but does not the Eucharist stand as the ultimate evidence against the Enlightenment approach to change? “Take and eat” implies a liturgy that is enacted in the practical before it is understood in the theoretical, and really will not be understood fully until we experience the resurrection firsthand.

  2. Mike Metzger says:


    Yes indeed. “Take and eat” is found in all four “chapters” of the gospel (creation, fall, redemption, restoration) and reflects the deepest reality of the created order: life comes out of death. But it is best experienced before being explained.

  3. Steve says:

    Analyze-think-change is not an Endarkenment approach, but the Judaeo-Christian one, though it also can be found among the Greeks. It is simply how reality -is-.

    Where are you trying to go with this? Are you making an ontological claim about the truth or fictionality of the Faith? Or are you arguing that reason alone is insufficient to change the beliefs of many people?

    As to life coming out of death, where are you trying to go with that? It certainly isn’t creational, as death is not.

  4. Joey says:


    Once again, great piece! One question… When something is done over and over it can become unconsidered, mindless and even bodiless. We stop caring for what we are both thinking and doing. One of the obvious challenges in taking the Eucharist every week is that it can simply become a religious routine or duty (what, perhaps,two-thirds of the two-thirds are actually doing) How do we keep the Eucharist imbued with meaning lest experiential dissonance play out around the table?

  5. Mike Metzger says:


    Bad example makes bad law. Anything and everything is susceptible to corruption. But the fact that corruption is possible is never an argument against proper practice. Saying “I love you” to your spouse can become rote. The solution however is not telling her you love her. Keeping the Eucharist in it’s proper place is simply a matter of a proper understanding of the gospel as it pertains to human nature.


    I’m not sure what an “Endarkment” approach means, so I can’t comment on your post. As for life coming out of death, it is indeed creational. God takes the disorder (formless and void) and orders it (life).

  6. Brody Bond says:

    So what happens when faith communities continue to “reframe reality to fit their beliefs” over and over? (And don’t seem to demonstrate the humility needed to listen and change?)

    Clearly you don’t want to throw in the towel, but that desire gets stronger and stronger…

  7. Mike Metzger says:


    It is a conundrum, isn’t it? The solution in times past was enculturating yourself in a roundtable where you became habituated in self-suspicion. The conundrum of conscience is that individuals most easily delude themselves.

    Think of the conundrum this way: It’s like trying to win a marathon. If you wait until the day of the event, it’s way too late to win. In the same way, when American faith communities enculturate themselves in an individualistic, pietistic that prizes autonomy and certainty, there is no way a moment of dissonance will break through and achieve a positive result. At that point, it’s way too late in the game. We reap what we sow.

  8. Chris Harness from Scotland says:

    I cannot tell you how many times I have experienced this tendency in Christians. I had a pastor whom I still respect very much try to justify the different number of angels at the resurection tomb in the different gospels by saying “Just because one gospel only mentions one angel at the tomb doesn’t mean there wasn’t more there …” Just one quick example.

  9. Tim says:

    “As for life coming out of death, it is indeed creational. God takes the disorder (formless and void) and orders it (life).”

    Mike, the “formless and void” condition in which the earth was originally created was not one of “death”. It was simply in raw form yet “good” like all that God made. Death actually came into creation and destroyed life.

  10. Tim says:

    “As for life coming out of death, it is indeed creational. God takes the disorder (formless and void) and orders it (life).”

    Mike, the formless and void condition of the newly created earth was not one of death, but earth in its raw form before God filled it. Death actually came after life.

  11. Mike Metzger says:


    “Formless and void” has generally been understood to refer to judgement and disorder – the result of a pre-creation fall (the war between Lucifer and God). When Lucifer and his host lost, they were separated (the meaning of “death) and cast to earth. Hence, death and disorder are resident, if not completely manifest, in Genesis 1:1. From this disorder, God begins to order. Out of death comes life. This is the deepest reality of the created order.

  12. Paul Taylor says:


    I have enjoyed your article on cognitive dissonance because I have experienced it first hand. We are told in Proverbs to get wisdom and understanding and don’t let them go. When you believe something to be the truth it is very difficult to change even when what you believe doesn’t seem to come to pass. Then you battle having faith to believe while you wait for what you believe to come to pass. There is a fine line that has to be walked out with God and definitely experience is necessary to see change take place. At least this has been my experience over the past ten years.

  13. Tim says:

    I believe that understanding “formless and void” as being a state of “judgment and disorder” is reading into the text something that is just not there. I wonder who generally understands this and for what reason.
    If indeed there had been a “fall” prior to creation, which I do not believe was the case nor do the Scriptures suggest this notion, then God would not have been warranted to declare at the close of the sixth day of creation that everything was “very good” (perfect) for it was not.
    Moses used the word we translate as “formless” one other time and there it refers to the waste of a wilderness (Deut. 32:10) He did not use the word we translate as “void” elsewhere. But it can also merely mean emptiness.
    In any case the suggestion that there was “death and disorder” prior to the creation of life and all that was good I believe is unjustified and casts a shadow on the creation account.

  14. Mike Metzger says:


    The list is long of those who see a pre-creation battle between Lucifer and God (see references above to Isaiah and Ezekiel). Lucifer lost. Lucifer fell. Hence, a pre-creation fall.

    It seems that you equate “good” with “perfect.” They are not synonymous. “Wilderness” is a metaphor for chaos and darkness – exactly how Genesis 1:1 describes the cosmos prior to God beginning to order it. “Death” is separation, Lucifer and his fallen angels were separated from God, so death and disorder rightly describe “formless and void.”

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