Oh To Be Philosophically Limber (John 7:45-53)

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We’re talking about the incident in which the Jewish moralists sicked the temple guards on Jesus to bring him back to face trial. When they came back empty-handed, the things the leaders spoke to their minions was representative of propagandists protecting their privilege of all times (including ours!).

I would have otherwise called these tactics of propagandists: “How to Win Elections and Insult People,” but since we Christians don’t get involved in politics I’ll just stick with the title above. You can make your own applications of the story.

Personal applications notwithstanding, propagandists of all ages and in all social contexts question your intelligence, mold the facts into their own image, and…

They come across in an elitist and condescending way.

“This mob that knows nothing of the law.” (John 7:49)

The irony mustn’t be lost on us that propagandists repeatedly lie and obfuscate while claiming the higher moral ground!

They preach from their pulpits and sermonize from their stumps that their opponents are “just a mob of stupid people, a band of idiots!” To make themselves look good they must make their enemies look bad. Those in possession of a bully pulpit are masters at caricaturing others as a lower life form.

We know better than you, so, unless you agree with us, you should just shut up! You can’t possibly understand how things work, so let us do the heavy lifting and then rely on us to tell you what’s up!

They paint their opponents into a corner with overreaching language and condescending name-calling, until they’re so belittled they fit inside the file of fools they’ve concocted for them.

It’s not the best argument, but the loudest argumentative voice that wins (or loses, depending on how much truth matters to you). It’s sad how the one whose argument appeals to our worst angels that wins debates. Those who spew the vilest put downs, with the snappiest memes, in the most condescending tones are the ones who get the most cheers and “Likes” on social media. The content of their argument has nothing to do with it. The best click bait is the brashest and most brazen trope. It matters not how logical or Scriptural it is.

Don’t get me wrong. I like “winning” debates as much as the next guy, especially about things I think are important. I work hard at not shutting down someone with the other opinion just so I can walk away feeling the adrenaline surge of victory, but I admit that there are still some Pharisaical cells floating around in my system. Like anyone else I suppose, I battle equal portions of conceit and insecurity everyday.

In order to be philosophically limber, it’s important for me to follow a routine of mental Yoga each day. If I’m not careful, I can speak down, talk past, or pontificate over people, and thus bring not goodness to people or glory to God.

At the end of the day, truth, civility, and morality will prevail, but a lot of damage is done before day’s end!

Jesus followers, on the other hand, are not “proud, but [are] willing to associate with people of low position.” And [they’re] not conceited.” (Romans 12:16)

The propagandists in this story show yet another manipulative tactic…

They make pronouncements as though speaking for God.

“There is a curse on them.” (John 7:49)

They think of themselves as specially endowed with, if not divine authority, a special qualification to make damning proclamations: They’re not only stupid, but God rejects them and they’re under a curse! Oswald Chambers said, “No one damns like a theologian, nor is any quarrel so bitter as a religious quarrel.”

Those who claim special status of, let’s say, being specially “Chosen” assume the sovereign responsibility to lead the people to the Promised Land, even make it great again! Other propagandists wait for their toadies to make such claims and then don’t deny it. Whereas John the Baptizer, who admitted he wasn’t the Christ, this sort of self-proclaimed superhero will take all the fawning and praising they can get!

Good angels and honest people refuse to be worshipped (Revelation 22:9 and Acts 14:15), but who who fail to disabuse their flattering worshippers do so at their own peril. “They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man. Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:22) Just sayin’

Jesus followers, on the other hand, “bless” instead of “curse” their enemies (Romans 12:14). They reject flattery (Daniel 11:32) and are careful not to think of themselves too highly (Romans 12:3).

Stay tuned for the final post on this passage…

3 Replies to “Oh To Be Philosophically Limber (John 7:45-53)”

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