Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

There have been few times in my life in which I have been as torn in reading a book as I was when I read Larry Osborne's new book, Accidental Pharisees. On the one had, I completely agree with his premise. His calling to guard our hearts against thinking we have everything all perfect came through loud and clear. But on the other hand, I completely disagree with his applications in the life of the Christian. I was torn so much that I feel the best way to express my thoughts is to give a short review of the book today, but then spend the next two days explaining in more detail why I agreed and disagreed at the same time as I read this book.

The Book's Premise
In this book, Osborne goes after the religious elite, or at least those people who act as if they have everything together. He describes this genre of people, the Accidental Pharisees, in this way:
"People like you and me who, despite the best intentions and a desire to honor God, unwittingly end up pursuing an overzealous model of faith that sabotages the work of the Lord we think we're serving" (17).
He begins the book by arguing that in our culture, a pharisee is a really bad term. But in first century Judaism, it was a high honor. It was not that these people were trying to be religiously cold. They were totally committed to God's Word. They were completely trying, as best as they could, to be faithful to the Scriptures.
"They were zealous for God, completely committed to their faith. They were theologically astute, masters of the biblical texts. They fastidiously obeyed even the most obscure commands. They even made up extra rules just in case they were missing anything. Their embrace of spiritual disciplines was second to none" (24). 
These men were spiritually impressive. But we only think of them for as they were exposed by Jesus. His warning in this book is that the overzealous Christian might be on that same sort of trajectory in their faith. We have blind spots that might just be leading us to become an Accidental Pharisee.

The poster child he argues stands against the "new legalism" of the Christian church today is Joseph of Arimathea. We are told his story throughout the gospel accounts, but there is one phrase that he points to as an evidence that we need to be more cautious in our high calling to surrender to the gospel. Joseph is called a "secret disciple" (John 19:38-42). This thought gives him warning:
"It makes me hesitant to call out, write off, or tear apart those who struggle with full devotion and reckless abandonment. Who am I to blast a 'secret disciple' as unworthy if Jesus didn't? Who am I to write off the not-yet-fully-committed if Jesus didn't? Who am I to say that God can't use the kind of people he actually used?" (36-37).
That is the basic premise of the book. His goal is to convince people not to think too narrowly on what it means to follow Jesus. Now, at this point, I will refer to what I wrote earlier. There are some good things and some bad things with this thought. I am really trying to be cautious here. For in many ways, he lays down the gauntlet that to go after or call out those who are fellow Christians might be a sign that you are an "Accidental Pharisee." It is almost as if he played his ace of spades on the subject of pride.

But I will risk it. I will share tomorrow why there are things in this book that I greatly appreciated. I think it is much needed in our culture, especially for me. But then on Thursday, I want to share the aspects of this book that really bothered me. I just hope as I do it, he does not label me a pharisee.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. THE PHARISAICAL MYTH

    Are the modern day Pharisees those who believe that you have to follow God's doctrine in order to be saved? The example.
    FAITH (John 3:16
    REPENTANCE (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19)
    CONFESSION ((Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37)
    WATER BAPTISM (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21)

    Are the contemporary Pharisees those who teach that Christians, who make sin a lifestyle, will not enter the kingdom of God? (1 Corinthians 6:6-11, Galatians 5:19-20)

    Was the problem with the Pharisees that they kept God's law to the letter and forced others to do the same? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The Pharisees were keeping their man-made traditions, they were not keeping God's law to the letter.


    Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees for keeping the laws of God to the letter. It was the exact opposite.


    Mark 7:1-9 The Pharisees.....7 'But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men! 8 Neglecting the command of God, you hold to the tradition of men." 9. He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandments of God in order to keep your traditions.


    Jesus made it very clear that the Pharisees did not keep God's laws to the letter. The problem with the Pharisees were they were keeping their man-made traditions!


    Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you , scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.


    Jesus was not rebuking the Pharisees for following God's law to the letter, He was admonishing them for neglecting the law.


    Matthew 5:20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.


    Jesus did not question the righteousness of the Pharisees because they were living in strict obedience to God's law. They were not even close to following God's laws.


    Matthew 16:6-12 And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.".......12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of the bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and and Sadducees.


    Jesus was not warning of the teaching of the Pharisees because they were advocating strict adherence to the Scriptures. They were teaching from their man-made creed books.



    Matthew 23:13-33....33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?


    Jesus did not refer to the Pharisees as serpents and ask them how they would escape hell, because they were following the Scriptures to the letter of the law. THEY WERE NOT KEEPING GOD'S LAWS!


    The problem with the Pharisees was they were following their man-made creed books. They were not living in strict obedience to the Scriptures, they were not even close.


    John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.


    JESUS DID NOT ADMONISH, REBUKE, LECTURE, NOR REPRIMAND THE PHARISEES FOR KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS NOR GOD'S COMMANDMENTS TO THE LETTER OF THE LAW. IT WAS JUST THE OPPOSITE!


    TEACHING THE BIBLICAL TERMS FOR PARDON ACCORDING THE BIBLE IS NOT BEING PHARISAICAL!


    THE MAN-MADE CREED BOOKS OF TODAY ARE NO MORE GOD'S WORD THAN THE CREED BOOKS OF THE PHARISEES.


    IF THE DOCTRINE YOU FOLLOW CONTRADICTS SCRIPTURE, THEN, IT IS MAN-MADE TRADITION!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http:steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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