Ignorance is bliss is probably best summed up in the famous allegory of the cave where

Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato’s Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality.”

–extract from Plato’s Cave Wikipedia entry

The latter stages of the allegory go on the describe how the philosopher is like one who has been freed from the chains and has seen life in its full reality and colour. When the philosopher returns to the cave to convince the prisoners of reality, they refuse to believe him.

In my experience, there are two clear applications of this story for us as Christians today:

1) As followers of Christ, we know that those who do not know Jesus are ignorant to the freedom and marvelous future that is outside the cave. We may even be accused by the shadow dwellers of being arrogant with our strange message. The temptation can be to not even return to the cave and to leave the cave dwellers to their own fate. As believers in the great commission, we cannot and must not do this. Without trying to fulfil Einstein’s definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result), we should pragmatically try new methods of evangelism and en-lighting the shadow dwellers without changing the message of reality. Underlying all of this is the need to pray that the Holy Spirit will remove the shackles from their eyes.

2) As we continue to follow Christ, we often inadvertently create new caves. Our churches become insular and form the boundaries of our social construct. Often a “man of God” will be the one who projects images of reality on the new walls of our minds. Catholics who look to papal decrees are often guilty of this. However, non-Catholics, can also suffer from shadow interpretation when they only receive their spiritual food from the preacher. To maintain a view of life in its full reality, we must develop our philosophy directly from Jesus. It is also healthy read books from various authors and to listen to multiple preachers from different circles of influence. If we are confident in the inerrancy of God’s word, then we can and should critically engage and evaluate Christianity without the need of narrow cave walls to protect us. As we are aware of our tendencies to develop new shadows, we can more fully focus on the Christian life in all its colours.

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About Jeremy Crooks

Jeremy grew up in Sydney Australia. He has tertiary qualifications in business, training, and Bible. With experience in both church ministry and corporate human resources, Jeremy has a strong interest in how faith is demonstrated in our homes and workplaces. You can contact Jeremy at jeremy@jasonharris.com.au.

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