The terms “cognitive dissonance” and “cancel culture” are modern ones, but that does not mean that there are not examples in Scripture. The first term refers to where people find it difficult to comprehend the evidence of their own eyes. In John chapter 9 there is the account of the man who was born blind whom Jesus then healed. After a question from his disciples as to why he had been born blind Jesus healed him by telling the blind man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. After doing this he returned to where his home was seeing but his neighbours had difficulty in accepting his healing:-“His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked. “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, No, he only looks like him” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” Though, if you think about it there are at least two reasons why they might conclude initially that he was somebody who just looked like the man. Firstly, a blind man without the slightest bit of vision does not look directly at the person they are engaging with so for the first time his neighbours would have seen his eyes focus on them. The second is possibly more obvious is that he would now walk like a normal sighted person. He had to insist that he was indeed the same man. But there was also what we often call “the elephant in the room” which is not overtly stated. Jesus had performed this miracle of the Jewish sabbath. This was undoubtedly in the back of the minds of his neighbours. So they took the man to the Pharisees to investigate his healing, possibly passing the buck to decide whether it was of God or not. On a previous occasion Jesus had challenged the Pharisees when there was a man with a shrivelled hand if it was right or not to do good on the Sabbath and they remained silent but walked out after Jesus healed the man. The Pharisees that the neighbours brought the man who had been born blind to may not have been the same individuals but their mindset was the same. After the man explained how he had been healed, possibly leaving out details that the Pharisees might have a problem with such as the distance he might have had to walk to the pool of Siloam. The initial response was “this man is not from God because, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others countered this by asking:- “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” Though this may have been a case of playing devil’s advocate as none seem to held on to this view by the end of investigation. They then made the mistake of asking the man what he thought of Jesus and he answered “he is a prophet.”
So the Pharisees then dragged in the man’s parents but they were on their guard. They were worried about being “cancelled” to use the modern term. They would not disclose anything further than that he was their son and he had been born blind. Because:- “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.” So his parents told the Pharisees that he was old enough so they should ask him. If that isn’t “cancel culture” what is? So the parents escaped cancellation but the son was not so fortunate when he was called back. They started by saying “Give glory to God,” then said that the Son of God was a sinner. More cognitive dissonance. He replied by saying:- “One thing I know. I once was blind but now I see.” He concluded by saying, “nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. It this man is not from God, he could do nothing.” they cancelled him by throwing him out because he was “steeped in sin.” They obviously did not think that the doctrine of original sin applied to them. You see that the Pharisees were so triggered by the fact that he had been healed on the Jewish Sabbath that would rather that this man remained blind. They just could not realise that they were the ones who were spiritually blind.
David Rose, 2022.