The Caged Squirrel

“Know what you believe, and why you believe it”
by T.P. Wilson

The other day, my attention was caught by the window of a little pet shop. The animals in their pens and coops and cages seemed intent on making the most of their limited space, by leaping about in a lively way.

Attracted by an idle curiosity, I entered the shop and spoke to the owner. “Well, my friend, you have quite a show of animals here. This is a small zoo in its way, isn't it ?”

“No, sir,” he replied. “I call it my theology shop.”

I wondered what he meant. He continued:

“Possibly you may not think it, sir - but these birds and squirrels have a good deal of human nature in them.” He took me to a cage occupied by a squirrel. “Here, sir,” he said, “is a cage with only one squirrel in it. He reminds me of a large and respectable class of religious believers. See how sleek and quiet he is.”

“Can I touch him?” I asked. “Will he bite?”

“Bless you,” said the man, laughing, “he can't bite anything!”

“Well, then,” I asked, “how does he crack those nuts in his cage?”

“He doesn't crack anything,” replied the man. “He fumbles over the nuts, and waits till I get time to crack them for him.”

I wondered how the squirrel had got itself into this state. The man explained:

“This squirrel, sir, for a long time, was the pet of a man who took special pleasure in preparing the squirrel's food for him. To save the little fellow time and trouble, his master cracked all his nuts. As a result, the poor squirrel's teeth have grown out of shape, and now he can't possibly gnaw anything that is hard.”

“Well,” I asked, “what does this have to do with theology?”

“Oh, a great deal,” the man replied. “This squirrel is just like certain people. They depend for their beliefs on somebody else feeding them with carefully prepared food. If they go to a church, their preachers crack all the hard questions in the Bible, and make them so soft and mushy, all that the people have to do is swallow it down. They never dream of thinking for themselves on any difficult point. After a while, they lose the power of thinking. They simply live on what others feed them. Just like my squirrel.”

I looked at the poor squirrel, and I had to admit the man was right. A healthy belief is a thinking belief. A healthy soul is a thinking soul. Does the Bible not teach this? Is it not how every Reformer in the history of the church has combated error? Wisdom cries aloud from the rooftops, and her message is - know what you believe and why you believe it. God has given us minds; we are accountable to Him for how we use them.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18)
“Why, even of yourselves, do ye not judge what is right?” (Luke 12:57)
“Be not children in understanding. In understanding, be men” (1 Corinthians 14:20)