Thursday, May 25, 2006

Are We Pharisees?


It seems like every time you take a dogmatic position on a biblical issue there are critics ready to pounce upon you with the accusation of "Pharisee". This has been occurring here lately on thinkerup.com. I'm not worried about it. I believe these people hurling these accusations are not clear on the errors of the pharisees and why Jesus came down so hard on them.

Below is an excerpt from John MacArthur's book, Reckless Faith. Hopefully this could help clarify some of the confusion for those who are quick to attach the label of pharisee to anyone who takes an authoritative doctrinal position on an issue based on scripture. Isn't that what we are supposed to do as christians?

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"Sometimes the Pharisees are accused of having been overly concerned with orthodoxy. But that was not at all where they went astray. Their error was that they became so wrapped up in their own traditions that they downplayed the truth of Scripture and distorted sound doctrine. Far from being theologically orthodox, they had simply invented their own traditions and used a man-made system to nullify the truth of divinely inspired Scripture
(Matt. 15:3-6).

It is fashionable today to characterize anyone who is concerned with biblical doctrine as Pharisaical. The biblical condemnation of the Pharisees' legalism has been misread as a denunciation of doctrinal precision. And love of the truth has often been judged inherently legalistic.

But love for truth is not the same as legalism. The fact that it has been portrayed that way has sabotaged the very thing the church so desperately needs today. Too many Christians are content to gaze nonchalantly at the surface of scriptural truth without plunging any deeper. They often justify their shallow indifference as a refusal to be legalistic. Conversely, they dismiss as pharisaical narrow-mindedness, any attempt to declare the truth authoritatively.

Doctrine divides; therefore any concern for doctrinal matters is commonly seen as unchristian. People concerned with discernment and sound doctrine are often accused of fostering a pharisaical, divisive attitude. But that is exactly backwards! True unity is rooted in truth.

Jesus prayed: "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth... For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one" (John 17:17-21). The unity for which He prayed is preceded by and grows out of sanctification in the truth. Fellowship that ignores or glosses over the crucial doctrines of the faith is not Christian unity; it is ungodly compromise.

As doctrine has been de-emphasized, the church has moved from preaching the Word to other activities: drama, music, entertainment - things designed to evoke an emotional response rather than enlighten the mind.

All this has accelerated the move away from doctrine and focused the pulpit message on everything but the objective truth of Scripture. Preachers have become comedians, storytellers, therapists, showmen, and entertainers rather than powerful envoys of divine truth. . . .

One reason for the low level of discernment in the church today is the reluctance to take a definitive stand on any issue. Those with any convictions at all are supposed to hold those beliefs with as much slack as possible. Dogmatism is not permitted. To pronounce anything true and call its antithesis error is to challenge society's only remaining dogma. Refuse to equivocate on any point of principle or doctrine, and you will be labeled too narrow. Zeal for the truth has become politically incorrect."

--John MacArthur, Reckless faith: When the church loses its will to discern

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder why people are never accused of being Sadducees? Jesus warned against their "yeast", too. Could anyone correctly be considered a modern-day Sadducee?

4:26 PM  
Anonymous janean said...

Another label that comes to those who dare to be bold enough to stand up for truth is "fear". This is what I was told when I went to speak to the elders at my prior church regarding emergent church stuff in the church. One of the elders said I have too much fear - and this was driving my concern. I said to her she was correct - indeed I have a fear of the Lord!!

Another label was that I was too "religious" and not walking in the Spirit of Jesus enough.

You know, after personally experiencing such things, it simply comes down to the fact that those people simply just don't understand or see the Truth. It was a bit frustrating. After getting called such things, it was just a further conviction that it was definately time to leave the church. I think of the mocking of Christ before his crucifixtion. I guess the labels of "pharisee" aren't that bad and what we should expect (even if among those who claim to be believers).

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Vee said...

Excellent post... We certainly do see the fruits of a politically correct world!

V

12:32 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Kenny,
Don't worry about being called a Pharisee. In fact, consider this. Is it not your experience that when you say something biblical that is also hard or against the current culture that the God-is-love-not-truth crowd jumps you about just exactly how you ought talk about such things? Or worse they say you ought not say them at all, even though the Scripture has spoken on the subject!

Now is not adding extra rules onto the Scripture what Jesus nailed the Pharisees for? It is! So these folks that are all about "love" are constantly coming down on anyone who says the truth! Like you.

They would condemn Jesus, Paul, and all the prophets for being unloving. They require more than God does.

Now who's the Pharisee?

Thankful for your frankness and faithfulness,
Phil Perkins.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Vee said...

Yes anonymous and in kindness we can:

Tit 1:9 clinging to the faithful Word according to the teaching, that he may be able both to encourage by sound doctrine and to convict the ones contradicting.

"Neo-Pharisees": The New "Heresy-Hunters" is the title of an article by Apostacy Alert.

Here is the link:

http://www.apostasyalert.org/REFLECTIONS/NeoPharisees.htm

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beware being called a pharisee...!!!!!!


They depended on their own works and denied Christ.... they had Him crucified to satifiy their own evil desires!

do not be deceived... take the warning serious!

12:22 PM  
Blogger David Cho said...

Thank you for the quote from MacArthur's book. His points from his book will certainly be taken into account in my future entries for my ongoing series called "Coming to terms with fundamentalism" on my blog.

4:09 AM  
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