Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Think Therefore I Am A Sheep?

"They're just a bunch of sheep". We've all heard this, or at least some variation of it. Or perhaps we've even uttered the words ourselves; always with contempt as we describe a person or group that-depending on what they've given themselves over to-seem easily blown this way or that. Christians are a favorite for these charges; at least I know they once were for me. I saw them as self-righteous and mindless sheep under the control of "the church"; desiring to pull the rest of us into its web of deceit, control and tithing. I never once considered at that time that I might myself be a sheep serving my own master. As a Cristian today I now get to sit under my own judgement from across the span of time. Fortunately this allows me to relate with the accusers of Jesus and his flock today. I now also realize that those judgements were no less the result of a sheep mentality than that of the Christians I so loathed. As it turns out, it's not a matter of whether or not we are sheep, it's a matter of who is our shepherd. As Bob Dylan so aptly put it, "we all gonna have to serve somebody".
Like it or not, we were designed by a creator to do just that, serve our master. Without delving too deeply into the obscure realm of spirit body distinctions, I contend that our brains, in a physical sense, are extremely complex flesh and blood computers, and as such are programmed by someone or something to think in a certain way. Again, it's not a matter of if they are programmed, but who does the programing. There is a reason that history is filled with examples such as the rants of a mad man in the mid 20th century "programing" a whole nation to do the unthinkable. It is also the reason God gave us these instructions on raising our children lest they find themselves under similar control.

Impress… [God’s commandments] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (1)
This passage gives us a blueprint on properly programing the minds of our children. If the idea of programming our children’s minds somehow sounds repulsive, all I can say is, don't send your children to government schools, and don't let them watch TV.
One of the heard mentality criticisms I often hear from many, as though it was an original thought, is that one’s brain must be checked at the door when entering a church. But, with a little thought one might conclude that if anything should be checked at the door, it is fear. For the result of the surrender required and perpetrated by the Good Shepherd is radical change; change in the way one sees his Father in Heaven, change in the way one sees himself, and change in the way one sees reality. One of those realities is that we are all in fact sheep. For such a surrender is required courage. Moreover, considering what is currently passing as "rational thought", it might be more appropriate to say that one should check his brain at the door on the way out of the church; that is if he is to buy into what passes today as rational thought. Consider some of this “rational thought”:
  • Intolerance will somehow not be tolerated.
  • There is no truth and somehow that’s true.
  • Men running big businesses are only interested in themselves but somehow men running big government programs such as health care will act in our best interest.
  • We evolved but somehow homosexuality survived this process and is just as normal as heterosexuality and somehow it is immoral to disagree.
  • Laws should somehow not impose one person or group’s morality on another.
  • Man is basically good but has somehow been corrupted by society, that society consisting of, of course, man.
  • A President who does not care about a baby left in a linen closet to die is going to somehow care about you when you're old and feeble and left in the linen closet to die.

These are laden with self-contradiction, dichotomies, paradoxes, and sophistry, and yet are only a few examples. How are we suppose to interpret this? Are we supposed to simply not think about the inherent irrationality of this so called rational thought and merrily join the hordes being herded along singing, "eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die"? This illustrates the lengths and mental calisthenics man is willing to engage in to deny the truth of his subjection to an authority higher than himself. Unfortunately, reality is not subject to man's denials.
In the end man does not ultimately reject the sheep mentality, but rather he rejects the Good Shepherd. He does so in preference to a shepherd who will let him believe he is free, free to think as he pleases, and free to behave as he pleases. But in so doing, as illustrated, thinking freely is his adversary, not his ally, and so his "freedom" is tightly bound to the dictates of a narrow minded and obstruction filled path to reach his desired but ever ellusive destination of sovereignty. His only solace is that the path is a crowded one; filled with the herds of his fellow as he is furtively shepherded to his eternal damnation.

(1) Deuteronomy 6:7-9


Nancy said...

May I ever be known as a sheep...

John 10:14-15 NIV

14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Elizabeth said...

This is a great post Danny. We can not wait for this school year to be over so that we can "deprogram" our son and begin our homescool journey. I love that scripture...

Anonymous said...

Great post and list of "somehow's."

Larry Durham said...

I think the highest intellectaul pursuit is seeking the mind of God. And I used to be a "check your brain at the door" kind of guy (some would say that my ramblings at Three Ball Dead and Midst the Hum prove that it is still so). Nevertheless, count me amongst the sheep. And thank God for it!

Susan said...

Thank God I am one of His sheep and thank God His word says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Stan said...

Good stuff, Danny. And, yes, it does fit with mine. :)

Beth said...

…their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… (Romans 1:21b-22)

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14).

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

I don’t believe that reasoning can do much good, because the battle is spiritual. Big trouble for me, because I am much more comfortable fighting with my intellect than with spiritual weapons like prayer and fasting.

Beth said...

I just remembered these verses:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corithians 10:4-5)

What I am trying to say is that arguing with people, unless they sincerely want to know, as you mentioned in your post about Ms. CA, is probably futile. They don't want to know the truth, and cannot understand it because it is spiritually discerned. I'm suggesting another approach, one that I myself am not practicing.

Dan said...

What is the approach you suggest?

Jon said...

Reasoning built on a solid spiritual foundation can do good, I think. They are not opposite but corollary.

See Is 1:18 and Acts 17. Reasoning is good enough for God and Paul--there must be something to it.

Jon said...

Great post, as usual. I may have to steal your "somehow" list!

Dan said...

I have many more. They were difficult to cull.

Dan said...

One actually turned into a post all its own. It will be forthcoming.

Jon said...

I learned a new term from a friend today: Sheeple. "Sheeple" is the trait many people have of following someone/thing blindly, like a sheep. For example, "American Idol would not be such a success without sheeple viewers." I may not be using it correctly with respect to syntax, but you get the point.

Beth said...

Jon, thanks, you are right, I was overstating. What I had in mind was Proverbs 9:7 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse” as there is no sense reasoning with someone who is more interested in defending their point of view than in the truth, and I think Christians can waste a lot of valuable time doing this. Also, sometimes Christians are the ones more interested in defending their point of view than in engaging in honest dialog. There are non-Christians who really do have intellectual questions and reasoning/apologetics is important for that, as well as helping Christians understand and defend their faith (“be ready to give an account”).

Beth said...

Dan, good question! The approach I suggest is more use of spiritual weapons like prayer, the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit (discernment is big in figuring out who to reason with) and overcoming evil with good (Rom 12:21) by reaching out in love to homosexuals as well as supporting marriage amendments, supporting crisis pregnancy centers and adopting / fostering unwanted kids as well as opposing abortion, etc. Reasoning can be part of that also, as the Bible says to love God with all your MIND, but I think we tend to overuse that and underuse the others.