Inner Formation of the Heart
Part 8: Principle #3--True and False Central Beliefs
#3 Our central beliefs are made up of two sets of beliefs: a) true settled central beliefs and b) false settled, central beliefs.
For example, Jesus’ disciples had a false central belief that Jesus could never rise from the dead, and it manifested itself in their reaction to the women’s report. Early that morning, the women walked to the tomb to do some additional anointing of Jesus’ body. They found an empty tomb instead. An angel announced Jesus was alive and to report this to the disciples. But notice how their report was received. The women “returned from the [empty] tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. . . . But these words appeared to [the disciples] as nonsense, and they would not believe them” (Lk. 24: 9, 11). That Jesus was alive was beyond belief for the disciples—not possible—even though they had witnessed such miracles before (rising of Jairus’ daughter, of a widow’s son being carried during a funeral procession, and of Lazarus). Furthermore, on a few occasions Jesus had predicted that he would die and rise on the third day. Nonetheless, the disciples could not fathom Jesus being alive.
We observe a similar false belief or lack of belief in Thomas. Easter Sunday evening Jesus appeared to his disciples when they were gathered together, but Thomas was absent. The next time they met Thomas, “the [ten] other disciples were saying to [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But [Thomas] said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’” (Jn. 20:25). So we have a mixed bag of central beliefs within each of us, some true and some false, as evident in the ethics student’s substitution of blue books on exam day. And it is the false central beliefs that get us into trouble, since they do not correspond to reality, but rather to some illusion in our mind that we believe is true. As a child I used to believe it would never rain on Sunday, since I deduced “Sunday” meant “sunny day.” Imagine my disappointment—and brief crisis of faith in God—the first day it rained on Sunday. Perceived views of reality—false central beliefs—should give way to reality (but sadly this is not always the case).