Exactly who is brainwashed?


As I’m preparing to preach on John 4:16-30 this Sunday, I found these words from N.T. Wright’s For Everyone commentary insightful (emphasis mine):

A friend of mine described the reaction when he went home, as a young teenager, and announced to his mother that he’d become a Christian.

Alarmed, she thought he’d joined some kind of cult.

‘They’ve brainwashed you!’ she said.

He was ready with the right answer.

‘If you’d seen what was in my brain,’ he replied, ‘you’d realize it needed washing!’

Of course, he hadn’t been brainwashed. In fact, again and again—and this was certainly the case with my friend—when people bring their lives, their outer lives and inner lives, into the light of Jesus the Messiah, things begin to come clear.

If anything, it’s our surrounding culture that brainwashes us, persuading us in a thousand subtle ways that the present world is the only one there is. This is seldom argued. Rather, a mood is created in which it seems so much easier to go with the flow. That’s what happens in brainwashing. What the gospel does is to administer a sharp jolt, to shine a bright light, to kick-start the brain, and the moral sensibility, into working properly for the first time.[1]

1. N.T. Wright, John for Everyone Part One (Louisville: WJK, 2004), 43-4.

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