Saturday, May 14, 2011

Do sheep flee from good shepherds?

This weekend we read in John 10 where Jesus excoriates the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees, for being false shepherds who expel those whom Jesus calls.  Specifically the gospel passage refers to the Pharisees expelling from the synagogue the blind beggar whom Jesus personally touched and healed (John 9). 

Church leaders increasingly expel people for questioning traditions Jesus never explicitly established.   Meanwhile, these same actions violate Jesus’ explicit directive to the apostles, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.  But it shall not be so among you (Mark 10:42-43 and MT 20:25-26).”  Sadly, it is increasingly “so” amongst today’s apostles.   

Why do church leaders foster an environment where they “lord it over” people who question traditions based on things Jesus never actually said whilst ignoring things Jesus explicitly instructed? 

They try to justify their actions by citing the Magisterium’s self-acclaimed role as superior discerners and defenders of truth.  Yet, the clergy continue to be exposed as taking great liberties with truth, particularly when it comes to due process and the sex abuse scandal or even simple things like fact-checking homily material as mentioned in my last blog article.  I appreciate all clergy are human and therefore capable of breaking any commandment.  However, habitual 8th Commandment violators rightfully are not seen as credible, much less superior, guardians of truth. 

In this weekend’s gospel passage Jesus says, “…the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers (John 10:4-5).”  In 2010 alone, 180,000 of Pope Benedict’s fellow Germans left the church due to shepherds who abused children or enabled abusers.  Every day approximately 1,000 Mexicans leave the church resulting in over 1,000,000 Catholics leaving every three years.   Worldwide, millions leave the church due to the bishops’ behaviors and policies.   Is this exodus indicative of good shepherding?


  1. Do you think some of this qualifies as Heresy? An example might be in the reference to the 8th Commandment here, which after the conspicuous elimination of the original 2nd Commandment (concerning the making of idols) and splitting the 10th in to 2 Commandments, could be Thou shalt not steal or Thou shalt not bear false witness, depending on which version one might be reading. Seems like a pretty dramatic change among many other dramatic changes... Admiring your drive, courage and insight...

  2. I think that we are all human but those who would suppose they are closer to God than others might want to revisit the passages about getting planks out of their own eye before specks from others'.

    I don't get caught up in the grouping of commandments into ten for these reasons.

    First, both versions grouping the 10 include the instructions about idols. In one version it gets its own commandment and in another it's grouped with another.

    Second, scripture does not say, "God delivered these Ten Commandments". In the Exodus 20 appearance of them it says, "God delivered all these commandments." The appearance of them in Deuteronomy 5 doesn't include even that text. Thus, the concept of "Ten Commandments" is inserted by humans. And the fact that people argue over how to group them, to me, is people looking for reasons to not get along.

    Third, there actually are more than ten commands given in the scripture passages considered "The Ten Commandments". Using the Exodus 20 version for example, I count 16 discrete instructions, some of which both camps eliminate from their list:
    1. You shall not have other gods besides me.
    2. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth
    3. you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
    4. You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.
    5. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
    6. Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.
    7. You shall not kill.
    8. You shall not commit adultery.
    9. You shall not steal.
    10. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    11. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. 12. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.

    After an interlude between Moses, God and the Israelites, God adds:
    13. Do not make anything to rank with me; neither gods of silver nor gods of gold shall you make for yourselves.
    14. An altar of earth you shall make for me, and upon it you shall sacrifice your holocausts and peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In whatever place I choose for the remembrance of my name I will come to you and bless you.
    15. If you make an altar of stone for me, do not build it of cut stone, for by putting a tool to it you desecrate it.
    16. You shall not go up by steps to my altar, on which you must not be indecently uncovered.

  3. While the account given of the appearances of Commandments in the Bible is accurate, the example of possible heresy is in reference to a Traditional Catechetical Formula, sourced from the Vatican, which displays the following arrangement of 10 Commandments.

    1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.

    2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

    3. Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day.

    4. Honor your father and your mother.

    5. You shall not kill.

    6. You shall not commit adultery.

    7. You shall not steal.

    8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

    10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

    There is no mention of idols in this arrangement and this remains conspicuous to me, unless I am mistaken in my understanding that the Vatican and Catechism hold some authority over the Catholic Faithful in doctrinal teaching.

    It was not my purpose to antagonize when presenting this question, but to rather hear your view as a theological scholar as to whether you feel that Catholicism is measurably heretical in teaching or not. Certainly one could argue that many denominations could be also but I was interested in your answer related to Catholicism in particular.

    After reading several of the "Ewe" articles, it is somewhat evident that you see several inaccuracies in your recent Catholic experiences, which provokes the question; Why do you continue to participate and subject your family to potentially spiritually catastrophic doctrine?

    I hope ewe understand that my motives here are not based in being right, or presenting myself as being "closer to God", but in being loving. I have spent a great many hours examining deception in this world and trying to break down misconceptions about Christianity because I believe that Christ is the only way to the Father and that the world is suffering from a deception that involves those who would come in his name. As you may have seen, much of the misconception is being presented as argument for the discrediting of Christianity and most who endeavor to address these arguments will find that a lot of it is caused by the actions of the Papacy.

    I love Ewe!

  4. Rog, I was referring to the Church's Magisterium as thinking they are closer to God, not you.

    I have always gone to the Scripture for the Commandments. By the way, both Catholic and Protestant versions of the Commandments leave off the ones towards the end of that passage.

    The Catechism is supposed to be a summary of other doctrine and pulling from the Scriptures. But, I tend to go back to Scripture and the actual documents. The Catechism is a bit too summarized for my liking.

    I believe we are one church that Christ left and that we all fail to perfectly do what we're asked. Which is why forgiveness is important.

    Love ewe too!

  5. Roger, Actually, the teaching of the church based upon the Vatican's website does contain the admonition against idols. Please see:

    It begins with this text, "THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

    I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.3

    It is written: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."