Active Ignorance

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman in the 1800s. I ran across this quotation from him that sparked some interesting thinking especially in light of the tumultuous days we’re living in. He said, “There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” Active ignorance implies taking something into your mind, and actively using, information that is false, even though we mistakenly think it to be true.

I think active ignorance is rampant in our world, not just our nation. It affects our friendships, our politics, our education, and our relationship with God. Let me explain. If we believe that God is some great “cosmic vibration”, then everything we read about God is filtered through our “active ignorance.” If we hear something contrary to my preconceived “facts” about the true nature of God, we dismiss it immediately because it doesn’t fit into our narrative.

Of all people, you and I must be driven by an active pursuit of the truth, not an “active ignorance.”   Look at how even the enemies of Jesus recognized Him in Matthew 22:16, “And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” Not a bad template to use. 1) Look to the author of truth, Jesus. 2) Teach the way of truthfully. 3) Don’t be swayed by other’s opinions.

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