It’s a long time since I learnt something as fresh, insightful and illuminating as Confirmation Bias – from the link below, and the appended YT’s that accompany it. I showed it to my wife to cross-check whether there’s merit in this phenomena as described. She said ‘definitely’ – the article has put a handle to this unconscious and insidious predisposition that prevent us from learning.
“Confirmation bias” is the name for a very common trait that all human beings share. When we favor information that validates our pre-existing beliefs but refuse to consider information that threatens our pre-existing beliefs, we are demonstrating confirmation bias; other names are confirmatory bias, my side bias or subjective validation.
One of the enduring tags I treasure was from a YFC A5 calendar? (if I remember correctly) with a page showing a man on a parachute, with the caption “Our mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open”. I suppose this was an antidote for Confirmation Bias.
When my daughter followed her friends and started attending NCC, I had to visit and see for myself whether the teachings of NCC were sound. I even wrote to their leadership twice when my daughter narrated what she had been hearing from the youth leaders! And there were a few heated exchanges with my daughter regarding her convictions based on NCC teachings! She chose to be baptized there instead of the church she grew up with. I concluded then that services at NCC was God’s hip way of reaching the MTV generation, with their smooth, swinging worship music and the smart and groovy ‘uniforms’ of the ushers and leaders. (NCC has since discarded such adornments)
I had the personal preference to attend churches in neighbourhoods I stayed, seeing how the NT believers were always identified by the location they resided. As I had moved a couple of times, I changed membership, just to be identified with the Christian community where I lived, without much concern for the denominational legacy. I thought my ‘grounding’ in scriptures would insulate and immunize me from doctrinal inadequacies and anomalies, while giving credence to Christian love and brotherhood.
I stayed on and identified and immersed myself in my previous church for more than 10 years, even when I was ever mistreated, not to mention the many precepts and practices there were contrary to my convictions. Yes, I did write to leadership on occasions. None of my outside brethren asked why I attended a Pentecostal church that is deficient in sound doctrine and majored on soliciting money for missions. Often, after Sunday services, I would have mental sword-fighting with the content of the sermons. It wasn’t as what Jeremiah experienced -“Thy words were found, and thy words became to me the joy and delight of my heart”. Sometimes it would be finding sand in your mouth when you try to digest the sermons. Sometimes it would be smoke that brought tears, and smarting pain in the eyes, rather than tears of fear and trembling; joy and worship.
I had started visiting Queenstown Remand Prison as a counsellor, then went on to the high security Tanah Merah Prison and the Changi Prison, conducting Sunday services and administering the Memorial emblems of the Bread and Wine. As those visits were on Sunday mornings, I didn’t want to miss church. So I looked for churches with afternoon services and weekly remembrance of Jesus’ finished work. So that was how I began to attend NCC as a visitor. My daughter was no longer there, having gone overseas.
And was I surprised. The unveiling of Jesus in the pages of the OT really was a joy and delight. Having begun and baptized with the open Brethren, the weekly search light beamed upon Jesus during each memorial communion was honoring to my Lord, and inspiring to me. So I continued there, as a guest. To be a Berean, I had to be a parachutist with an open mind! I read widely and searched deeply on this Gospel of Grace as preached by NCC. Finally, I told my wife, let’s go to a church that preaches the Word that engenders faith (Rom 10:17), and not fear, as in many groups advocating the imperatives. My wife later recounted – “it is finding our first love, falling in love with Jesus again”
Some were surprised that I moved to NCC; probably due to their understanding of my doctrinal convictions and the notoriety of Joseph Prince and NCC. But none raised an eyebrow when I attended the previous Pentecostal church! Two of my dear brothers, serving the Lord overseas were watchful over me. One of them, who had lived with Roy Robertson, stayed with Walt Henricksen (author – Disciples Are Made, Not Born), studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, came to Singapore with his wife and met my wife and me and asked (cautioned) about my association with NCC. I am deeply grateful for their concern and covering.
I am ever asking the Lord to be my Captain, Covering, Companionship, Comfort and Counsel. Yes His counsel, to teach me in my pilgrimage as I make my way home to dwell with Him! And before I could receive His counsel, from Himself, as a Berean, or as a Ethiopian, I must make sure that my beliefs, concepts, even convictions are not burned as ROM in my heart and mind, but remain as volatile RAM, easily erased by my Counsellor, replaced with the Words of Life, and then imprinted deeply, that I may know Him accurately and truly, see Him clearly, hear Him soundly, love Him dearly, walk with Him closely, serve Him faithfully and treasure His family intently.
To do this, I must watch out for “Confirmation Bias, and Blunder”, ever validating my loyalties to any denominational or creedal conclusions and convictions upon my understanding of scriptures.