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Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Several times over the course of my ministry I or the church I pastor has been accused of brainwashing people. I have come to believe that this is a word that is used by people to marginalize others with whom they disagree because they are at a loss in the arena of ideas. When they cannot refute positions they find a word to discredit the person in their own mind.

Brainwashing is a term that seems to meet that objective.

I have an 1892 Webster's Dictionary and the term "brainwashing" is not included. I have a 1961 Webster's seventh collegiate dictionary and the term is included there. The definition is as follows:

1. A forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas. 2. Persuasion by propaganda of salesmanship.

Both of these definitions are interesting and merit a closer look. According to the first definition we cannot brainwash our own children or adult people who choose to interact with us. We cannot brainwash our own children because they have no political, social, or religious beliefs to give up. We do not brainwash our children we equip them. Every parent does either actively or passively. We do not brainwash adult people because we cannot force them to associate with us. If they do so it is because they have seen the merits of what we espouse and want it for themselves. According to the second definition brainwashing involves persuasion. Well it seems to me every one exercises their powers of persuasion to get people to come to their view of things. I believe the Apostle Paul did a fair amount of persuading with the truth. As for the propaganda, well, one man's propaganda is another man's truth. Salesmanship. I suppose there is a sense in which it could be said that we are all trying to sale our ideas to others. I don't necessarily like the term because it hints at a willingness to do anything to get others to embrace your side. Of course this is not an option when you are dealing with eternal truth. So salesmanship in my mind is not an accurate representation of what we do. Declaration is a more apt term.

People use the term brainwashing in an attempt to stigmatize those with whom they disagree. Of course the folks who use the term are never brainwashed?? If they were would they know it?? Brainwashing is not a precise term. Instead of accusations of brainwashing give me reasons why my positions are wrong. Why my manner of living is wrong. I can give you Biblical reasons why I believe I am right. Can you show me where I am wrong from the Bible. It is easier just to claim brainwashing than to examine the merits of the issue.

Why are we brainwashed?

Because the ladies in our family and church dress like ladies.
Because the men in our family and church dress like men.
Because we closely monitor the things we allow in the name of entertainment.
Because we believe Christians are to be different from the world.

This really is what it comes down to, with possibly a few other issues.

I suppose it has nothing to do with the light exposing the darkness and the darkness being uncomfortable.

From the beginning God's people who were serious about serving him have been marginalized and stigmatized by the world.

Those that have turn the world upside down are come hither also.
In reality they were turning the world rightside up.
Paul much learning doth make thee mad.
These men do exceedingly trouble our city.
This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
We have found this man a pestilent fellow.
For as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

Paul said that we are as the offscouring of all things.

Brainwashing is a term that is used by people who have no ability to confront ideas and address them on the merits.

I suppose given the choice I would rather be brainwashed than braindead!

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