This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.
Sinful human nature is so arranged as to make the perception of assimilation almost impossible. Because of sinful, self-protective pride, individuals are unwilling to admit to the possibility that they may be wrong. In addition, also because of pride, all of the things surrounding a person are reinterpreted in a way that causes them to reinforce the already existing opinion. Anything that does not reinforce the already existing opinion is simply dismissed as nonsense. No attempt is made to prove this nonsense to be wrong because to do so would involve considering the possibility that it might be correct, and that is unacceptable.
For example, the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy advanced the theory that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun revolved around the earth. Early theologians liked the Ptolemaic view of the universe because they believed that it fit in with the biblical cosmology. Then, toward the end of the Middle Ages, along came a man by the name of Copernicus who conclusive proved that Ptolemy was wrong. The sun is the center of the solar system and the earth actually revolves around the sun! This was too much for theologians to bear and the teachings of Copernicus were banned.
After Copernicus, an Italian scientist by the name of Galileo came along. He further developed the cosmology of Copernicus and presented conclusive evidence to the Church that Copernicus was correct, the earth revolves around the sun. This was too much for the Church to bear. Galileo was prosecuted as a heretic for believing what every believer in the modern era knows to be true. It took almost two hundred years for the Church to admit that the earth, in fact, does revolve around the sun. This made up a two hundred year period of persecution for those who knew and believed the truth about our solar system. This was two hundred years of steadfastly ignoring scientific proof that contradicted the already existing opinion. This was two hundred years of having been assimilated to the Ptolemaic cosmology because it made Church leaders feel good about themselves.
The Church had assimilated the erroneous views of Ptolemy because they liked them, not because they were true. The Church rejected the correct views of Copernicus and Galileo because they disliked them, not because they were false. This is the nature of assimilation. Positions are staked out because they allow the individual to feel good about himself. Other positions are summarily dismissed, without any rational argument showing why they are false, because they make a person feel uncomfortable. This aspect of human nature has never changed.
Assimilation is always the easy thing to do. Groups of people never assimilate into something that is hard. Assimilation involves giving in to the popular. It means going with the flow so as not to make waves. It means compromising and suppressing the truth so as to fit in with what is going on around you. All of reality is reinterpreted so as to reinforce the behavior of assimilation and to reject anything that might threaten the existing system of beliefs. Then, along comes the contrarian.
Some people have personalities that allow them to see outside of the framework of societal assimilation. All contrarians are alike in that they have a natural tendency to not believe what is commonly accepted to be true. As a result, contrarians tend to agree that the existing culture is generally in the wrong. Given the reality that God’s people are generally in an apostate state, it therefore necessarily follows that contrarians are generally correct in their assessment that people need to repent. This was the case with Ezra, a man “skilled in the Law of God”, who immediately perceived that the people had fallen into assimilation with the local culture and desperately needed to repent. What was Ezra’s reaction to the assimilation of God’s people?