Sunday, August 14, 2016

One Flock, One Shepherd

At a prison bible study we were reflecting on John 10. It talks about Jesus as the good shepherd and thieves and robbers trying to steal the sheep. There is a lot there in the way Jesus cares for His sheep and protects His sheep. Even the idea that a shepherd in that day would risk his life for the sheep.

When it came to the thieves and robbers I talked about both the Protestant and Catholic ways of reading this text as I often do. Protestants would say thieves and robbers exist. They would be teaching something very different from the truth (as they see it). Often they would include Catholics and many other Protestants. Conservative Protestants would put liberal Protestants in this category but not those who are closer to them theologically. It all made sense to me as when I was Protestant.

The interesting thing is it didn't make sense to the prisoners. They get a mish-mash of Protestants denominations coming to the prison. They didn't get how the sheep would know Jesus' voice. As a Christian Reformed person talking to other Christian Reformed people I could easily appeal to common sense. Yet this sort of sense is not common to people who have experiences many contradictory religious ideas. That is actually more common these days.

Then there is the phrase that Jesus says that Protestants mostly ignore. He says in verse 16 that "there shall be one flock and one shepherd." Catholics see that as an obvious reference to the church and the pope. Protestants? Like I said, it is mostly ignored. To the extent that it means anything it would be spiritualized to the point where it becomes unfalsifiable. That is this invisible group of people has this invisible bond of unity with this invisible shepherd.

There is some visible unity in the Protestant world. I know I craved it when I was Protestant. Yet a lot of it is just a unity among some subset of protestants that happens to agree with you on an issue. It is like George Bush's coalition of the willing in Iraq. You just list those who agree with you, ignore those who don't, and declare it to be some sort of consensus. 

Yet what sort of community was Jesus really envisioning when He said there shall be one flock and one shepherd? If He foresaw the current Protestant reality would He not have said that He would be shepherding many flocks? Would He have just asserted that His sheep know His voice? Is there any amount of disunity that would indicate that Protestantism has a serious problem?

That does not mean the church needs to be homogeneous. Catholicism has many orders and many movements and many different spiritual personalities. They even have movements that reform other movements that have grown lax. There can be many moves of the Holy Spirit all withing this unity Jesus talks about. 


  1. If you're at all interested in knowing . . . the Catholic Dogma . . . that we *must believe* to get to Heaven, and which you have *never* seen . . .

    I list it on my website > >

    > > Abjuration of heresy to enter the Catholic Church >

    The Catholic God knows . . . what we think and believe . . .

    Catholic writing of Romans 1:21 >
    "They ... became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened."

    Catholic Faith (pre-fulfillment) writing of Deuteronomy 31:21 >
    "For I know their thoughts, and what they are about to do this day."

    Catholic Faith (pre-fulfillment) writing of Job 21:27 >
    "Surely I know your thoughts, and your unjust judgments against Me."

    The group that calls itself "islam" ... is not a religion. Fully proven by the fact that the "koran" says the *opposite* of the Old Testament Prophets > Section 113 of the site.

    1. Sorry for the slow reply. I do get these comments from radical traditionalists from time to time. Yet they are typically not willing to engage in dialogue. They just throw some unrelated comment on a post. Are you willing to talk about these ideas?