Saturday, August 06, 2005

Agnus Dei

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Christians like to refer to themselves as sheep, guided by the shepherd that is their lord. No doubt they feel comforted knowing that a shepherd watches over them and protects them. Yet, it doesn't take much to consider the implications of being a sheep.

Sheep are wolly-headed, easily led off (for good or for evil, no one knows) and prone to falling into the herd mentality. If this were not so, they would not need shepherds to watch over them. And because shepherds understand that sheep are just that, they do not blame them for their actions, even if they are greatly inconvenienced by them. Indeed, if a sheep goes astray, it is the shepherd who is blamed. After all, sheep do not know any better, and the shepherd is the one who has been entrusted with their care.

It might also be profitable to ask why shepherds watch over and protect sheep. Is it because they are charitable, kind or good-hearted? Nay. Shepherds are self-interested beings, like almost all other humans, so we do not expect that they will spend most of their day watching their flock as it grazes merely out of the goodness of their heart. Of course, it's also a good excuse for them play the pan pipes, that's more of a fringe benefit than anything else.

Shepherds, then, have 3 uses for sheep. They either fleece them for their wool, kill them for their meat or screw them when no one is looking (in the absence of willing and available human females). One does not have relationships with sheep, for they are meant to be exploited by their shepherds.


"We enter church, and we have to say, 'We have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep,' when what we want to say is, 'Why are we made to err and stray like lost sheep?'" - Thomas Hardy

[Cross-posted to Balderdash]

10 Comments:

Blogger kLairE said...

errr. i don't mean to be rude, but do you happen to understand the meaning of the word analogy? An analogy is not meant to describe the situation holistically but to illustrate a certain point. And the point of the shepherd-sheep analogy is to illustrate the fact that God cares for and looks after His ppl the way a shepherd looks after and cares for his sheep. The analogy is focused on the *actions* of the shepherd.

On the motivation of shepherds' : greed and the selfishness that comes from profit motivation are part of Man's sinful nature, so how can you say that a perfect, sinless Shepehrd is just like your fallible human shepherd? I'm sorry but your argument does not make sense at all to me.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 1:42:00 AM  
Blogger kLairE said...

there is another issue i find very curious. the raison d'etre of this blog is to minister to the needs of recovering christians who have doubts about their faith. This is a noble cause, and it's good that somebody is brinigng forth burning questions and confusing/contradictory Christian msgs into the public sphere so that they may be discussed, opinions and various interpretations might be trashed out and hopefully the truth will come to light.

yet i find it rather odd that half of the posts on this blog that claims to cater to the needs of recovering CHristians seem to be bashing the church and/or God. welcoming the opinions of non believers on Christian issues on one thing, but when half of the posts allowed here are oriented towards God/church bashing, how does this help ppl recover their faith?

Not that everything posted here should be a duplicate of Sunday sermons of course. That is not the point of this blog it seems. Questions that sound heretical are okay so long as they reflect a genuine desire to know God better and to strengthen one's faith by probing deeper into the CHristian msgs. Unfortunatley it's not the impression I'm getting from half of the posts on this blog.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 1:56:00 AM  
Blogger Agagooga said...

If analogies are fatally flawed, then they are suspect. What shepherd would blame sheep for their actions? Go figure. You can't have your cake and eat it.

Raison d'etre of this blog:

"This is a blog for me and hopefully others too who are recovering Christians. Recovering as in we once called themselves Christians, but are in some respects disillusioned by the way Scriptures are interpreted, and how Christians treat other people sometimes. Some have abandoned their faith for good reason, others have not (like me). Some have their own conceptions of what the Scriptures are really saying that are very different from what is usually taught...

Contributors might include both believers and non-believers, for I think there are times when we are not sure what believers believe, and what non-believers actually don't believe...
"

Regaining one's faith is not the only way to recover.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 2:38:00 AM  
Blogger jeffyen said...

Yes, it takes an iconoclast like Agagooga to view this sheep analogy in this particular light! LOL

Second papagraph I think is a good approximation of the reasons why the sheep analogy is used.

On the users for sheep paragraph, I usually think of it as using sheeps for fleece! (But it's nice to know the other users though!)

The favourite Psalm 23's sheep analogy is immensely comforting for me...

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.


***

klaire: yet i find it rather odd that half of the posts on this blog that claims to cater to the needs of recovering CHristians seem to be bashing the church and/or God

Yes it is odd, isn't it? :) Well, I prefer to think that any ministry shouldn't be exclusive to anyone, this blog tries to adhere to this ideal. So far, the line that I've drawn is when particular visitors try to get personal and extremely rude and malicious to another fellow participant. I don't want to encourage this sort of behaviour.

Other than that, I think alternative POVs are important. Loosely speaking, Agagooga (Gabriel) is a freethinker while I am not. I tend not to focus so much on this, per se, that's why I wrote in the Preamble that the net is pretty wide for folks who wish to contribute new blog entries. I don't really care if an antheist doesn't believe in God. From my POV, he is still a creation of God, and by definition, that is good. :)

I think so far, Gabriel and I raise the same questions that reasonable people starting out in church, or even mature thinking Christians, might ask at some point in their lives. And I won't want to stop people from asking these questions. Lots of people desperately wanting to know God leave the church or abandon their faith because they see Christians sometimes so unwilling to address obvious issues, or when they feel they aren't being understood or that no one seems to care that they have legit concerns...

I won't really call it 'bashing' the Church. The oldest book in the Bible, and one of my favourite, Job, has most parts by Job asking for answers and explanations from God, with God patiently listening to his long list of complaints and asking for justice, before answering with the exquisite poetic response that doesn't directly answer the question. So I think there's room for doubt, and unanswered questions in matters of faith... And people should have the chance to raise these issues.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 9:46:00 AM  
Blogger naniecheng said...

Hi, I'm new to this blog and I find the views aired here very interesting. I've been a christian all my life and recently I've also begun questioning a lot of "christian worldviews" that I've taken for granted since I can't remember when. I would like to ask Jeff if you are ever fearful that your questioning would result in you turning away from the christian faith? You see, I believe that God is real and Jesus is real so by right if He stands for all that is Truth then He should be able to stand up to any scrutiny and questions we may have. Correct? And yet sometimes I still hesitate to ask too many questions and challenge status quo. Maybe it's because I'm secretly afraid I would become lost eventually or I may never find the answers I'm looking for. I really don't know. So how do you approach this whole matter? Do you see God working through you in this blog? Afterall being a Christian is really all about submission to God isn't it? So I'm really interested to understand how you approach all these reflections in the light of the Lordship of Jesus. Or is the issue of the "Lordship of Jesus" also a worldview that can be contested? Thanks.

Monday, August 08, 2005 9:50:00 AM  
Blogger Agagooga said...

Veritas vos Liberabit - The truth will set you free :)

Monday, August 08, 2005 5:02:00 PM  
Blogger jeffyen said...

Hi, I'm new to this blog and I find the views aired here very interesting. I've been a christian all my life and recently I've also begun questioning a lot of "christian worldviews" that I've taken for granted since I can't remember when.

Welcome to the blog naniecheng! I think it's all right to question. I've learnt years ago that Paul asks us to 'be scientific' (my paraphrase, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). Critically examine everything, don't take things for granted, treasure that which is good...

I would like to ask Jeff if you are ever fearful that your questioning would result in you turning away from the christian faith?

It's funny, you know. I don't think I'm fearful that my question would result in me turning away from the Christian faith, but it has turned me away from the christian faith numerous times. But as I mentioned in the Preamble, this is not really uncommon. If we lose faith in one aspect of the faith, it doesn't necessarily mean that that is a bad thing. In fact, that can be a good thing, say, we lose faith in an 'incorrect interpretation' of the faith, and slowly we get closer to the Truth. So everyone's milleage will vary. And Gabriel is right, the truth shall set you free. John 8:32 ;)

You see, I believe that God is real and Jesus is real so by right if He stands for all that is Truth then He should be able to stand up to any scrutiny and questions we may have. Correct?

Correct. Although sometimes, the answers might not be straightforward/forthcoming...

And yet sometimes I still hesitate to ask too many questions and challenge status quo. Maybe it's because I'm secretly afraid I would become lost eventually or I may never find the answers I'm looking for. I really don't know. So how do you approach this whole matter? Do you see God working through you in this blog? Afterall being a Christian is really all about submission to God isn't it? So I'm really interested to understand how you approach all these reflections in the light of the Lordship of Jesus. Or is the issue of the "Lordship of Jesus" also a worldview that can be contested?

I think I can understand your dilemma. It is certainly scary to entertain the possibility of 'losing the faith' if we dig deep enough. However, I tend to see it as less of us 'getting it/finding the answers' and more of what God has done for us.

As we are just not in a position to understand everything, sometimes we can't find the answers initially (Job, Joseph et al.)

Another point is that some feel that digging too deep negates God in some way. My view is that this doesn't have to be case. Take a rainbow. Some feel we should emjoy the rainbow instead of over-analysing the thing. However, a curious person would ask, how does a rainbow come about, how do the various wavelengths of light dance, how all this is transported into the human visual system etc. It's very complex, and does it detract from the beauty of creation? I really don't think so. On the contrary, it does (to me, at least), the complete opposite. It shows the marvels of creation that much more. So I think one needs a balance in these sorts of things.

I think the 'ownership' of interpretations can certainly be contested. So that is one reason for starting this blog, and yes, I do hope that God is working through this. About submission, I think we also need to keep a balance. It's because of submission that I'm doing this, since I want to know God. Now that also doesn't mean I should 'keep quiet, that sort of submission' when I see things that should be responded to.

I think maybe the most important thing is whether our hearts are in the right place. I'm just being realistic here, we may never find the answers to it all. Maybe we would, maybe we won't. If I get killed in a car accident tomorrow, naturally I won't. ;) So this is where faith comes in. Faith says it's OK to not know everything, and things work for good in the bigger picture. I know this is a bit wishy-washy, but it's good enough for me personally. Again, your milleage will vary. :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 2:31:00 PM  
Anonymous searching said...

Hello Jeff. I've read the posts on this page. There was one part in your reply to naniecheng that you said your questioning of your faith turned you away from it. So what was it that you held on to, despite the many times you were turned away by your own questions, did you question yourself into coming back or something like that? or what happened?

if christianity was founded upon men, why would you want to have faith in men?
One thing i have found very hard to do is to trust in men's judgment or interpretation that changes from day to day.
If it was founded upon an Almighty God, how do you come to trust this as a faith that is from Him and not men?


(Sorry for the many questions but I am curious to know why.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 2:48:00 PM  
Anonymous searching said...

Oh i forgot to ask one more thing..
What distinguishes your Christian faith from the other faiths?

I found myself not being able to settle for blind faith. My definition of blind faith is this-
a person uses his faith to construct a non-existent reality into which he jumps in and rationalizes within.
(hah a more positive way to put it-lively imagination!)

I think for a faith to be sound it has to have a basis of reality (can be seen or unseen) before any faith can arise. (E,g, if i want to sit down, i must know that i am sitting on a chair. I can't 'believe' there's a chair there and then just sit! hah. it will be definitely a well deserved broken back if i get one from my belief that one is there when in fact it's not.)

So on your side, what type of faith is it that you have (that i presently assume has a sound basis) to believe in this God?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger jeffyen said...

Interesting questions searching, I shall talk about these in a future entry. :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 11:10:00 PM  

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