Scurrilous Shepherds & Their Starving Sheep
The Cult of Evangelical Leadership, Part 4
– Al Dager, 1990,
Scurrilous: Grossly or obscenely abusive, characterized by or using low buffoonery; coarsely jocular or derisive jest, vituperative, venomous, censuring, insulting, offensive, vulgar, aggressively hostile, belligerent, opprobrious, scornful, defamatory, malevolent, pejorative, contemptuous, ignominious, truculent, cruel, fierce, vitriolic, antagonistic, intimidating, obstreperous, contentious, pugnacious, scathing, salacious.
Shepherd: A shepherd or sheepherder, is a person who tends, feeds, or guards flocks of sheep. The word stems from an amalgam of sheep herder. Pastor (Greek, poimen) means “shepherd.”
Scurrilous Shepherds have been around since the earliest days of the church. The main trouble is many of them are in disguise: Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing. Sheep often do not believe that they literally exist. Like many other Bible stories these days, Sheep are led to think that a Wolf in Sheep’s garb is simply a parable, a myth, a fable. That’s it. No danger!
Therefore, before examining Scurrilous Shepherds it is first necessary to remember the warnings from Jesus Christ Himself and His Apostle, Paul:
- Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-16a)
- I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men. (Matthew 10:16-17a)
- I send you forth as lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:3b)
- [A]fter my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts: 20:29b)
Here is the key point to remember: The Lord Himself warned that there are Scurrilous Shepherds and that they wear a clever disguise – a Sheep Costume! A Wooly – not a furry – cloak covers them! And a Sweet-looking Sheep facial mask covers their true complexion! They may even smell like Lanolin!
A Saintly-Seeming Shepherd may not be readily apparent as a Wolf until one examines his fruit (Matt. 7:16a). Fruit is the key to identifying a Bad Shepherd. A Scurrilous Shepherd may appear to have benevolence, goodwill, charm, charisma, spiritual acumen, and the best interests of the Sheep at heart. But amazingly, despite all of these external good-sounding credentials, the Lord warns that appearances can be deceiving. Fruit may take a long time to manifest, but eventually it does come forth. Sadly, by this time, many Sheep have been ravaged.
Scurrilous Shepherds are known to walk the walk (actions) and talk the talk (verbal). They may seem to be right on track biblically. But “inwardly” – meaning lurking beneath the Wooly exterior – can be found a Ravening Wolf. Meek, lost, hungry and needy Sheep will find this to be a very disconcerting thought. Who would want to believe the worse about a Shepherd that they have come to love, trust and depend upon?
If appearances are so deceiving how can anyone recognize a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? Interestingly, the Lord gives another important clue to identifying Shepherd Wolves: they are ravening! “Once prey is brought down, wolves begin to feed excitedly, ripping and tugging at the carcass in all directions, and bolting down large chunks of it.” Note that this activity is often done in packs. Here is the key difference, an object lesson from the animal world:
- “Sheep are exclusively herbivorous mammals.”
- Wolves are almost always carnivores. The “wolf generally specializes in vulnerable individuals of large prey…. [T]hey are not fussy eaters.”
A “Hireling” is another type of Scurrilous Shepherd. He abandons Sheep to dangers. He may have a “care less” attitude. The Hireling Shepherd doesn’t teach the Sheep about deception and danger and signs of the end times. This blatant complacency leaves the Sheep open to exploitation by Ravening Wolves. The Hireling, a False Shepherd, “seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”(John 10:10-14)
Symptoms of Starvation
Shepherds have three basic duties: “Shepherds are not only to guard their sheep, but also guide and graze them.” Failure to do these things results in tragedy. Sheep are extremely vulnerable to danger when they wander in the untended pastures of Neglectful Shepherds.
Scurrilous Shepherds are noted for making a great display of “covering” their Sheep. They are the Overlords. The Sheep are the Underlings who must be covered by the Elite Spiritual Superiority of the Office of ____ (fill in the blank – Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Elder, Teacher, etc.). Sheep are natural followers and are herded in flocks. These Abusive Overlords will use the rod as punishment to beat sheep, rather than guide and direct them in the way they should go (which is true discipleship, a discipline). Abuse (mental, spiritual, physical, psychological) of Sheep is a sure fruit indicating a Ravening Wolf lurking underneath a Warm Fuzzy Wooly Cloak.
Lording Over is most effective when the Sheep are persuaded that they are inferior, inadequate, immature, ignorant, illiterate, and incapable of Feeding on the Word of God for themselves. Frail and Insecure Sheep are easily herded into submission by Fear Tactics, Doubt and Guilt. “No one wants to miss out on what appears to be a move of God. Ignorance on the part of those who are unsure of their relationship to God breeds indecision which, in turn, results in acquiescence to authority at the expense of their personal relationship to God.”
Effective Shepherding Manuals teach Scurrilous Shepherds to maintain their Sheep in a near-starvation condition. Fainting Sheep are more vulnerable to being attacked. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to disturb the Sheep, most of whom remain Blind Sycophants. “Who better to guard us than our Shepherd Sacred Cow who knows all of the ins and outs of the sheepfold!” they assert.
How does a Scurrilous Shepherd starve his Sheep? By feeding them half-truths, junk food, pablum, morsels, scraps, pap, gruel…. Anything lacking substance and nutrition. Seeker-Sensitive and Purpose-Driven Empires are built upon the foundation of Doling out Drivel. This pitiful diet is sugary-sweet and appeals to the lusts of the flesh, but there is no biblical substance to it. Spiritual Junk Food is made up of empty calories!
Mega-Church Ranches feature Drive-Thru Fast-Food Churchaurants that feed Sheep a horrible diet of Mystery Meat and Empty Calories! No wonder there is a famine in the land for the Word of God! (Amos 8:11) Mega-Ranches treat Sheep as Customers, Consumers and Commodities. Many Sheep “have been driven out of churches that “once-upon-a-time honored God’s truth... mega-churches where leaders have morphed to become ranchers rather than shepherds, and controlling cattle barons rather than 'free-grazer' cowboys (i.e., small church pastors and their congregations).” These Mega-Ranches feature pre-packaged Psychological Panaceas and Canned Sermonettes for Sheep Herd Maintenance.
Semi-Starvation is an Effective Management Tool for controlling the spiritual growth of Sheep populations. Note: Sheep growth must be numerical, not maturational! Exponential Sheep Growth is a Greed-Driven goal. Increasing Sheep Head Counts will add to Church Coffers and increase the power base for the Scurrilous Shepherd!
Wizard Wolves, in deep disguise as Spiritual Shepherds, drug the Sheep with Mysticism, which “lends additional validity to alleged signs and wonders and causes guilt, fear, and at least doubt among those who cannot reconcile them with Scripture.” These Sleepy Doped-up Sheep are lulled into a Stupor with Strange Spirituality. Easy Prey!
Scurrilous Shepherds do not instruct the Sheep on how to feed themselves. Sheep are not taken out to green pastures to feed on the Word of God. Sheep must instead line up at the Trough of the Shepherd, who doles out meager Rationed Portions. Even though Sheep are ruminants, who are capable of doing their own pre-digestion, Scurrilous Shepherds feed them Pre-Digested Cud. Note: this is one reason why Bible Studies are no longer fashionable and Discipleship is out of style. The Shepherd is now a Coach and a Mentor, and the Sheep are herded into Small Groups where they must live on Canned Spam.
Overactivity and Overcommitment keep the Sheep so busy that they can’t bother with daily devotions or family devotions. Watch out for the ominous signs of Sheep Exhaustion! Scurrilous Shepherds roughly drive the sheep too hard, and especially put too much pressure on fathers, mothers and children in families. Their Brutal Herding practices contrast starkly to the gentleness lovingkindness and protection of the Good Shepherd:
He shall gather the lambs with His arm,
and carry them in His bosom,
and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
“Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
Methods of Sheep Control & Abuse
Sheep who read good old biblical material and start digesting meat will show signs of Strength and Vitality, and may suddenly pose a threat to the Shepherd! At this point there will be a crisis because the Sheep are listening and responding to another Shepherd – the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:”(John 10:27) Note: A Scurrilous Shepherd will be threatened by a Sheep that follows Jesus Christ.
As a result of this ever-present threat, Scurrilous Shepherds have devised Clever Methods and Sophisticated Devices for ensuring that Sheep follow THEM, not Jesus Christ. They rely upon a number of effective techniques to ensure that the Sycophant Sheep are forced back into Compliance. A Servile Sheep must learn to be deferential, dutiful, obedient, attentive, submissive, grateful, subordinate, obsequious, and humble – to the Scurrilous Shepherd!
What happens when a Sheep starts asking Questions? There is an immediate Conflict. Many Scurrilous Shepherds have actually been trained in Terrible Techniques to deflect sincere Sheep questioning. Here is a partial list – compiled from real life stories – of what to expect if you, the Sheep, start asking too many questions:
- Ignore. If a Sheep complains or raises a difficult issue about the Shepherd and/or his teachings, simply ignore it. Dismiss all complaints as frivolous.
- Insist that the Sheep Say Something Good about the Scurrilous Shepherd right up front before listening to evidence that he is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. This tactic of requiring a Sheep to say something good first disarms them. It forces a Sheep to compromise that Brother Shepherd isn’t really all that much a “Wolf” – despite all the Scriptural and evidentiary warnings to the contrary! A highly effective and very common tactic!
- Isolation. “You are the only one who ever approached me about this,” is stated assertively, and then the denial is complete. And the Sheep feels like a fool for raising the issue, along with humiliated defeat. Conscientious Sheep begin to question their own sanity. Surely something must be wrong with THEM and not the Sainted Shepherd….
- Accusations of Selfishness: “Why are you so selfish? The church doesn't exist for you. It's not about you. Our church exists for people who are not yet believers.” And thus the very definition of Church is changed to Sheep + Wolves = Flock. Clever indeed!
- Refer to Committee. Whenever something needs to be put on the backburner form a committee. By the time the Committee is finished looking at the issue it will be moot. After much delay and dodging, the Sheep hopefully will have forgotten or given up.
- Obfuscation. Denial. Very effective at deterring Sheep with sincere questions.
- Accusing the Sheep of Sowing Discord. Suggesting the Sheep are in sin because they ask questions and don’t blindly trust their leaders. Often accompanied by rebukes.
- Silence Opposition. An especially effective method in committee or group situations. Those who should speak out the Truth and warn are often silenced into Submission. This is an odious result of Peer Pressure – a tactic that Scurrilous Shepherds always work to their best advantage.
- Professional Censure and Peer Pressure for daring to question Suspicious Shepherds is particularly effective in the realm of Scholarly Sheepdom. Especially important when Big Bad Wolf Theologies are under construction. A Good Shepherd who agrees to be silent automatically qualifies as a Bad Shepherd because he fails to warn Sheep of the dangers. Note: Many Stuffed Shirts are such Rabid Sycophants of Sacred Cow Scholars that they simply can’t bring themselves to criticize a Colleague acting suspiciously Wolverine! (Wolves do carry Rabies, you know!)
- Silencing the Sheep. Shutting them out, shutting them down, forbidding them to ask questions or raise issues. Barring them from meetings. Unfriending them. Shunning.
- Character Assassinations, slander and even threats! There have been repeated reports of terrible repercussions for those who challenge a Scurrilous Shepherd.
- Keep everything safely “in house” – i.e., buried under tons of paperwork, or placed under someone else’s authority, or referred to another Scurrilous Shepherd, or otherwise not addressing an issue. Note: this is how “in house” crimes are covered up.
- Intimidation (verbal, psychological, spiritual, physical). The pressure to conform. This tactic works remarkably well on Meek Self-effacing Sheep.
- Mocking and ridicule. It is a form of persecution and many Sheep sadly fall under its onslaught. Name-calling is also effective.
- Accusing the Sheep of violations of Matthew 18. Works best when done in front of a group of Shepherd Sycophants or in a public forum. Employing fake meekness and humility in this process works to turn sympathy towards the Scurrilous Shepherd and his Wolfy Comrades.
- Bartering and Bribery. Offers to promote the Sheep to a higher position. Ooooh… Self-centered Sheep really like this one! Incentives of money or financial rewards! Once a Sheep is bought, they become a lifelong supporter. Their conscience has been seered and they’ll do anything to support their Scurrilous Shepherd.
- Patronizing the Sheep. Condescending. Implying that the Scurrilous Shepherd has such Sacred Knowledge that the Inferior Little Sheep couldn’t possibly know or understand the Big Important Picture or the Heavy Deep Theological Matters. “But thank you for your suggestion.” Show them to the door and sigh with relief when they are gone. Whew! That’s over!
- Get Sheep to Sign a Covenant. Pressure the Sheep to buy into the Mission, Vision, Values and Purposes of the Scurrilous Shepherd’s Magnificent Church Transformation Plan, Program and Agenda. Once Sheep sign on the dotted line they can never say anything “bad” about their Shepherd again. Make sure the plan includes reprisals and/or penalties for any Sheep who break the covenant.
- Demand that Sheep do Works. Performance-based Faith. Perfectionism to achieve Scurrilous Shepherding goals. When Feeble Sheep can’t meet the goals or do the works, imply that they are spiritually inferior and sinfully inadequate and need to get with the Sacred Shepherd Vision and Program. Sheep that struggle to keep up need to be remediated. Sheep that raise a ruckus should be removed.
- Create an official Second Class Sheep Pen and hold disobedient Sheep there. Meanwhile the First Class Sheep enjoy all the supposed benefits and rewards of closer ties with the Scurrilous Shepherd and his Fellow Wolfy Elites. Look out! You might get eaten!
- Drive a wedge in the Sheep’s marriage and/or personal relationships. Foment interpersonal discord and division, all the while accusing the Sheep of doing this very thing.
- Cull out the Elderly Sheep. The Old-Timers pose problems for Hip Shepherds because they remember the days when the Bible actually used to be taught. Turn up the rock music real loud and hope they flee!
- Shut Questioning Sheep Out of the Conversation. Don’t even condescend to talk to them. Shut the door, walk out, slam it in the Sheep’s face. Throw their words in the trash. Erase their blog comment. Period. End of discussion.
- Require Mandatory Tithing. Scurrilous Shepherds monitor Sheep giving and know who isn’t measuring up. Those who don’t tithe are penalized and ignored. Sick Sheep on limited incomes are useless Feeders. Time to dump them by the wayside. Note: Scurrilous Shepherds don’t take care of their own Needy Sheep.
- Circumlocution – a bureaucratic hell that goes around and around but delivers no service to its Supplicants. Mega-Ranch Churches and other big organization are noted for their acts of circumlocution. Sheep get the run-around with no resolution.
- Theological circumlocution. Scholarly rhetoric. Scurrilous Shepherds have condescending ways of making sure that Sheep cannot possibly argue with them. “Who are YOU to challenge ME?” And who can understand their verbiage?!
- Secretarial circumlocution. Behind many a Scurrilous Shepherd is a Sycophant Secretary who makes sure that no pesky, querying Sheep can enter the Inner Sanctum of his Office.
- Doctrinal Circumlocution. Denials, Twists and Turns. Scurrilous Shepherds have a whole arsenal of creative ways to circumvent basic biblical doctrine and turn it into a justification for their own brand of Over-Lording. “You, the Sheep, know nothing. I, the Shepherd Master, know what the Bible REALLY says on the matter. I am the final authority.” Notice that the Bible is not the final authority, THEY are.
- Assert Superiority. Lord it over with Elite Authority. “I am the Shepherd, you are the Sheep. You must Submit, Surrender, Sacrifice!”
- Require Mandatory Obedience to the Shepherd. Sheep must submit to the Scurrilous Shepherd in the place of Jesus Christ. The Shepherd becomes a Middle-Man who puts himself in between man and God, claiming to have a higher revelation of Truth than mere Sheep. The Priesthood of all Shepherds (as opposed to 1 Peter 2:5-9).
- Sexual Suggestions. Scurrilous Shepherds often hold Ewes in bondage by sexual suggestions, innuendos, outright advances, affairs, even rape. In some cases Shepherds require Sheep Wives to submit to them, not husbands! A sure recipe for Spiritual Sexual Abuse! Women: Never go into the office of a Scurrillous Shepherd alone!
- Authoritarian. Assert the ground rule that all questions should be referred to the Scurrilous Shepherd and whatever he says is Law. This dictatorial style appeals to Scurrilous Shepherds who like to forcefully exercise dominion over their Sheep.
- Sleep deprivation, food deprivation, accompanied by altered states of consciousness. Overly regimenting intimate details of a Sheep’s life. Even to the point of telling them what to do in their personal lives. These techniques, when employed by Scurrilous Shepherds to gain control over Sheep, are very effective and very dangerous. In cases like this the Scurrilous Shepherd probably heads a cult. Look out!
- The Confessional. Scurrilous Shepherds of the worst kind will use the blackmail of personal data to gain an advantage over difficult Sheep. Another red flag that this could be a treacherous cult.
Amazingly, Starving Sheep will seldom flee their Scurrilous Shepherd! This is because they have been programmed, even threatened, to remain under his Shepherding Authority, Umbrella of Protection, or Covenant of Control – or suffer the wrath of God Himself. What arrogance!
Fawning Sheep will Follow Fantastic Doctrines because they are Blindly Devoted to the False Shepherd. Enfeebled and Starving Sheep often don’t feel strong enough to Flee. But that is what the Lord instructs: FLEE! Even the animal nature of a sheep indicates this truth: “For sheep, the primary defense mechanism is simply to flee from danger.” This is why the Bible instructs Sheep to flee sins and temptations, a “Stranger” Shepherd, and even the devil himself! (See: John 10:5, 1Cor 6:18; 10:14, 1Tim 6:11, 2Tim 2:22, and James 4:7.)
Sheep who are Starving and Fleeing need to start eating Nutritious Food. Here is a way to get started. Open this webpage: http://www.blueletterbible.org. This handy website enables Feeble Sheep to simply punch a search button to start Feasting on God’s Word. Start by a study in the KJV of the following words: sheep, shepherd. Notice that there are other similar words, plural forms and derivations like lamb, shepherds and sheepfold. Read the dire warnings in Ezekiel 34 to Scurrilous Shepherds. See what the Bible itself says. The Truth of God’s Word will nourish Frail Sheep and heal wounds caused by Wolverine Shepherds.
and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.”
the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.”
Over the past forty years there has been a rise in the atrocities committed by Scurrilous Shepherds against their Sheep. Much of this can be traced historically directly or indirectly back to the original Shepherding-Discipleship Movement, which was both Ecumenical and Dominionist. The False Teaching that there are Elite Shepherds who must Rule and Reign over Sheep, and that Sheep must have a Spiritual Covering, has become so pervasive that it is now a ubiquitous leaven. It has infiltrated nearly every corner of the Church world, and is repeated as a mantra amongst believers of all denominations. It has been programmed into curriculum, training manuals and church codes. It is even shockingly showing up in groups that still claim to adhere to the tenets of the First Reformation.
Note: Sheep reading this post should examine their own lives to see how much Shepherding Leaven has affected their own beliefs.
The origination of this false teaching can be found in Roman Catholicism, with a direct lineage to the Ft. Lauderdale Five that influenced the rise of so many diverse Shepherding groups in Evangelicaldom. To describe the interconnected networks, historical lineages and multitudinous associations would comprise a book. Many of us experienced this firsthand, living through its abuses. In fact, we know some of its leaders. Suffice it to state, that much of this Shepherding Leaven has gone mainstream and is now status quo and entrenched.
When first describing the Shepherding Movement 22 years ago, Al Dager explained how its teachings are particularly treacherous to Sheep and the Church:
These are sketchy but accurate assessments of how religion based on fear and guilt has encroached upon the modern Church. The Christian’s personal relationship with the Father is a sacred trust to be nurtured and strengthened by the teaching and counsel of the elders in the Church. While the corporate expression of faith is vital to the life of the Church, that life is only as strong as the strength of the individual links in the corporate chain.
The subordination of the individual to the corporate body at the expense of personal freedom in Christ weakens the Church in its ability to stand against deception and, ultimately, against the overt evil influences of the world. Dominion theology, in all its forms, can only be likened to a cult within the church—a subculture that threatens to tear asunder the delicate fabric of true unity based not on external piety, but upon the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
The connection between Dominionism and Shepherding has a direct bearing on the warnings about Wolves in Sheeps' Clothing. Sheep who no longer follow Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, will follow after any Nefarious Shepherd who promises them Nice Things. No wonder attention has been re-directed from the Holy Word of God to the Lustful Promises of Cleverly-Disguised Wolves.
There are terrifying consequences to Sheep who remain under these ravening Scurrilous Shepherds. Danger, death, destruction – not only to their physical bodies, but to their eternal souls. The following is a very violent prophetic warning:
should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool,
ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
The diseased have ye not strengthened,
neither have ye healed that which was sick,
neither have ye bound up that which was broken,
neither have ye brought again that which was driven away,
neither have ye sought that which was lost;
but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd:
and they became meat to all the beasts of the field,
when they were scattered.”
1. Al Dager, Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Dominion (Sword, 1990), p. 80.
2. Some of this definition was derived from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scurrilous?s=t
4. Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “OPEN RANGE!” http://guardinghisflock.com/the-desease-to-please/
8. DeBruyn, Ibid.
9. Dager, p. 81.
10. DeBruyn, Ibid.
11. Dager, p. 84.
12. This list was compiled by members of the Discernment Research Group and reflects actual experiences.
13. Chris Rosebrough, “For Whom Do Pastors Exist?” http://www.letterofmarque.us/2012/10/who-do-pastors-exist-for.html
14. Charles Dickens invented a fictitious government Office of Circumlocution in his novel Little Dorrit.
16. Many Sheep who now exercise discernment do so because of the terrible experiences they endured at the hands of Scurrilous Shepherds.
17. Dager, p. 84. The early two decades history of the Shepherding Movement is covered in this book. Additional resource material can be found in the old newsletter archives of the Discernment Ministries website: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/newsletters.html
Part 1: Sacred Cows & Stars.
Part 2: CA$H COW$ & FAT CAT$
Part 3: Stuffed Shirts & Their Sycophants
Note that much of the subject matter in this post is covered in a multitude of previous Herescope posts spanning 2005 to the present -- posts which have exhaustive documentation on these topics.
Written by Sarah Leslie of the Discernment Research Group, with special assistance from the members of the Discernment Research Group, some of whom have suffered much at the hands of Scurrilous Shepherds. God has been gracious to deliver us from this evil, and to grant us the platform and ability to warn other Suffering Sheep.
The graphic image at the top of this page was designed by C.A. Leslie and was used as the illustration accompanying the regular column "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" that ran in The Christian Conscience magazine in the late 1990s. The second image by K.J. Leslie is a Photoshopped composite of two photos appearing at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolves and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheep.