The Sheep Pen Confession: 1

The type of confession under consideration here has nothing to do with admitting to a crime, although that form of release can be good for the soul. Another equally efficacious confession is a typically less volatile statement of what one believes or personally confesses to be true. When we espouse a worldview, we are confessing our beliefs to others. It does not require a deity to make it sincere, but it does help.

The idea that anyone today would use the words “I confess” to anything other than a crime is not likely. Therefore I must resort to history to make my theses known and this is best done by drawing on the example of such an austere statement as the Augsburg Confession. It is a concise testimony drafted by a group of theological heavyweights, including Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, to clearly establish the basis of their reformation doctrine.

The Holy Roman Emperor convened a diet, or deliberative assembly, in 1530 to consider the veracity of the proposed confession. The Confession’s proponents were fearful of making an appearance at this assembly since their views ran contrary to the accepted doctrine of the Catholic Church. They managed to leverage a condition for their appearance, requiring the public presentation of a German version of their statement as well as submitting the formal Latin version to the assembly in order to comply with custom when discussing such issues.

We have a diet today, of sorts, convened by the emperors of virtual platforms. Anonymous contributions can be made, allowing all participants, who choose, to avoid the threat of arrest that Luther and Melanchthon faced by appearing publicly and affixing their signatures to their version of a blog. What hasn’t been lost to time is the pressure applied by both political and faith based opponents, who can excoriate an idea as easily as the Grand Inquisitor settled matters at the stake. Today we know them as trolls and they are more likely to wear bathrooms, if anything, as a form of stay at home clerical garb.

The Augsburg Confession historically consisted of 28 articles; 21 were positive statements (theses) about a reformed doctrine and 7 were negative statements (antitheses) addressing the abuses of the established church. It was a call for change, which was not well received by either the Holy Roman Emperor or the Vatican. We continue to live in the subsequent divide, which has only widened and become more diverse with the addition of other factions; political, religious and otherwise.

It’s time, I think, to launch my own Reformation, this one without the sanctity of any institutions. My list of theses is scant by comparison in terms of depth and breadth. Still, I hold it to be sacred and seek to divulge its contents over the next few messages. I call it the Sheep Pen Confession, a name derived from a story once told by a self-appointed Jewish rabbi. His speculative premise involves a futuristic return of a fabled king, who divides the world’s inhabitants into two groups, sheep and goats.

You don’t need to know the story to have an initial feeling that one group is deemed better than the other. And you can likely guess that the good guys are the sheep since goats typically have a bad rap for being aggressive head-butters. They lack the cute and cuddly virtues of sheep and will forever bear the shameful title of being escape goats, the bearer of sins for the good of humanity. It is best to be a sheep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *