Wishful Thinking

by David L. Cooper Th. M., Ph.D., Litt.D.

To Push one's desires into the background, to look at facts and figures, to ascertain principles and laws in both the material and spiritual realms, and to make correct inductions from well-defined premises are most difficult things to do. Our own personal interests, our attachment to the past, and our reticence to consider anything which appears to be contrary to our established ways of thinking all too often warp our judgments and dominate our thinking. Our great desire to attain some objective or to procure that which appeals to us and accords with our ideals causes us most frequently to minimize factors and elements which are positive evidence against the things hoped for. Our optimism, like-wise most frequently paints in the brightest colors the possibility of acquiring the things wished for or attaining the goal toward which we are striving. Such is properly what is called "wishful thinking." To do this is only to court failure and defeat.

We are living in a scientific age and should acquire, if we do not already possess, the scientific attitude.

But what is this scientific attitude? In a few words it is this: To investigate all relevant facts and data, to evaluate them to the best of our ability, and to make an impartial deduction from the evidence.

If the things believed formerly cannot stand under the searchlight of the newly discovered facts and testimony one is to discard his former beliefs and take his stand fearlessly upon the newly discovered evidence.

The danger of wishful thinking is specially disastrous in the spiritual realm. All too many of us have inherited certain tenets from our ancestral environment. We take too many things for granted. We accept as true, without any investigation, the things which we have been taught from childhood. We either neglect to examine or refuse to investigate the foundations of our belief. In the event that we are forced to study them, we go to the Scriptures for evidences which confirm us in our beliefs. Such a course as this is disastrous. Truth will never yield herself to such a heart attitude.

The Christian religion has nothing to fear from the closest scrutiny of the foundation upon which it rests. It is as the late Robert Dick Wilson repeatedly affirmed: "No living man knows enough to call in question a single statement of the Old Testament." What he said with reference to this portion of the Word of God is equally true in regard to the New Testament. The sixty-six books constituting the Scriptures are God's infallibly inspired revelation, which He gave to guide us in our pilgrimage through life. Our study, therefore, of this precious Book, if we are dominated by wishful thinking, will never bring us to a knowledge of its marvelous truths. Let us come to its sacred pages with one all-absorbing idea: To learn what God has said and to take our stand upon what it clearly teaches.

For thirty odd years, I have been studying the Scriptures with one idea in mind, namely, to ascertain what the Book teaches. The conclusion at which I have arrived is this: The great foundation truths which are believed and held by the orthodox groups of Christians are absolutely unshakable. We who stand on what is generally recognized as the fundamentals have no need of fearing that any newly discovered evidence will in the least upset them. The Holy Spirit has led the faithful servants of God to discover and to formulate these basic beliefs in past centuries. We of the present have fallen heir to this priceless heritage and should hold to these things with bulldog tenacity. They are correct and cannot be wrong. On the other hand, let us continue the study of the Word that we may grow in both grace and the knowledge of the truth. The depths of the Word are unfathomable. Nevertheless we can dive down, go further into its truths, and bring up precious gems that have been overlooked in many instances. Such a study will richly repay any and every true, earnest believer.