Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Who Is the Pharisee?
One of the favorite ways Christians use to attack an apologist is to call him a “Pharisee.” Demand that teachings adhere to Scripture and you get called a Pharisee. Suggest that if someone claims to be a Christian, then their lifestyle should reflect it, and you get called a Pharisee. Point out legalistic teachings and you get called a Pharisee. Pulling out the “Pharisee” card is really akin to a homosexualist pulling out the “homophobe” card; it just isn’t true!
When we read the Gospels we find that the Pharisees were guilty of being false teachers, of adding to God’s laws, of being sticklers for the letter of the Law while ignoring its spirit, of being hypocrites, of showing disdain for the unsaved, of doing works in a flamboyant way to win approval of man, of setting themselves up as important persons, of claiming Jesus was working against God, of seeking signs and wonders, of loving money, of seeking to trick Jesus, and of being offended at being corrected!
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for all of these things. He condemned them for their works-oriented salvation message. He condemned them for weakening the law by not obeying the intent of addressing the heart (e.g., while they taught adultery was wrong, Jesus had to point out that lusting was adultery also!). Jesus cited Isaiah when He condemned them for their teachings being nothing but “rules of men,” and he said they were worshiping God in vain.
So who are the real Pharisees today?
Those who are false teachers.
Those who add rules of their own to judge what is “holy.”
Those who are hypocrites.
Those who refuse correction.
Those who push the letter of the Law rather than its spirit.
Those who nullify the Law by applying it only outwardly.
Those who puff themselves up as authorities to be followed.
Those who show disdain for the unsaved.
Those who preach a works-salvation gospel.
Those who claim that their detractors are working against God.
Those who are seeking signs and wonders.
Those who promote tradition over Scripture.
I know of no Christian apologist who fits these descriptions, yet those who assail apologists usually fit many of them!
So any Christian who is attacking false teachers is not a Pharisee, but rather is emulating Christ and the apostles.