In the course of teaching my class, “What the Bible Really Says”, one of the topics that seems to most energize the students is the role of a shepherd during biblical times. More specifically, the allegory of Jesus as a shepherd was, in biblical days, not the image of a metro sexual male cradling a lamb in a field of flowers and butterflies – that is, until the latter half of the 20th century. The pastoral picture of a pacifistic, thoroughly feminized Jesus completely ignores the reality of shepherding in biblical times. The people in biblical days who viewed Jesus as a symbolic shepherd recognized that the life of the shepherd was, as Hobbes wrote((in Leviathan)), “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Johnnie Moore at the Federalist tells of a Christian Pastor in Syria((Arguably the birthplace of Christianity)) who has resigned himself to death, because he refuses to abandon his flock to the depredations of evil men. Moore compares this pastor with that of a biblical shepherd rightly understood, he writes,
If one sheep lies wounded, a shepherd is conditioned to fight with all his might for that one—and this shepherd (the pastor) stood in a blood bath of meticulous and intentional destruction by the very incarnation of hell itself born in the brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
This pastor epitomizes the heroism of self-sacrifice – perhaps the quintessential virtue of Christ and His early followers. What is tragic, however, is the Western Christianity’s response to this decimation. We rightly decry the viciousness of ISIS. Murder is evil. Denial of liberty is evil. ISIS is evil made manifest. But what may be worse is the irony that the standard bearer of Western moral values((Which is to say Judeo-Christian values) — the values by which we measure the infamy of ISIS — is about to be extinguished accompanied by nothing more than the wringing of hands and heads bent with sorrow. Like the pastor above, Western Christianity has largely resigned itself to oblivion but unlike the pastor, there is nothing noble or heroic about its death.