Friday, April 12, 2013

Finding Comradery with Pharisees

The Pharisees taught for commandments the doctrines of men and thus, worshiped God in vain (Mark 15:9). They took their application of Scripture and elevated it to the level of law. They took the way they tried to obey the Scripture and made it binding on everyone else. The Ten Commandments say "Honor your father and mother", but it doesn't say exactly what that looks like and how to do it. So, the legalistic Pharisees made up 1001 rules and regulations to cover all the possible ways that men could possibly think about breaking that command. Then they also had loopholes such as "Corban" (Mark 7:11) to make sure that they didn't dishonor their parents when they failed to honor them.

I recently read a blog post from a former fundamentalist who no longer calls himself a fundamentalist because as a whole, the movement of fundamentalism has not been consistent enough in how they exercise and apply the doctrine of separation, thus instead of saying something as arrogant like he's one of the very few true, consistent and purest fundamentalists, he just claims that he's neither Evangelical nor Fundamentalist. So, with that disclaimer out of the way....this blog post cited some Orthodox Jews on how they apply Deuteronomy 22:5 in their every day life which totally agrees with the view I grew up learning about women's modesty and the taboo of women wearing pants. Orthodox Jews would be the modern Pharisees. They are the strictest adherents to the Torah, but totally miss the point of their Messiah. They're the great great great great....grand children of those who crucified Jesus and said: "let His blood be upon us and on our children".  So, they sound like a great authority on scripture right? Well, they speak Hee-broo, so they know how to apply Old Testament Scripture better than the rest of us.

Deuteronomy 22:5  The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

I was taught that when a woman wears a pair of pants, she is as wicked as a lesbian because she has committed an abomination to the Lord. This blogger and the Orthodox Jews agree on this. They have concluded that because men primarily and exclusively wore trousers for hundreds of years, therefore, this article of clothing can never be considered a woman's garment any time in the present or future and thus for a woman to wear them is a direct violation of God's command. Western culture has changed in the past 60+ years so that clothing is now more about functionality and comfort rather than style or beauty. Gender distinction has also taken a turn for the worst with the unisex movement, so I totally understand and sympathize with some Fundamentalist conviction about the pants issue. However, gender distinction in our culture is still very much alive and well. Women's clothing still looks very much different than men's clothing and women who wear pants do not necessarily have to look like a man when they wear them. The point of the passage is to prevent gender reversal. But Pharisees love to take their personal rules on how to obey this command and elevate them to being God-breathed.

This blogger insists that there must be a female garment and male garment that are exclusively and forever settled because the text says "a woman's garment". He under-emphasizes the point that whatever a woman's garment was in those days and in that culture, was not to be worn by the opposite sex. What a woman's garment is today is not always going to be exactly the same as it was back then. Instead, he insists that this passage teaches that there must be a settled-for-all-time woman's and men's garments. He'll point back to a more pure western culture that set that standard back in Colonial or Victorian era and beyond...yes, the same superior western culture that enslaved people and treated people with dark skin like a sub-human animal species. That culture must be our moral authority on cultural issues in modern times.

(Oh, but don't pay attention to the men back then, who wore leotards up to their knees, powdered wigs with pony tails and ruffled lacy sleeves on their shirts. THAT isn't required to be considered masculine today. Just their trousers.)

The point of the passage (keeping gender distinctions) is secondary to the point he emphasizes (the particular article of clothing).

This is exactly the M.O. of the Pharisees and Orthodox Jews who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. The way they apply Scripture is over emphasized and they must be right They can have no doubt that they are wrong. Thus they are hell-bent on proving everyone else wrong to establish and maintain their own rightness. This blogger is constantly on the prowl to find the faults of Phil Johnson, Dan Philips and especially John MacArthur because  he is so certain that they are wrong, and he must prove it over and over again because he's right and if he's not certain about everything all the time, then it would be a sin.

The Pharisees did this with Jesus and the disciples all the time too. They kept tabs on their every move so they could trap them in a fault. No doubt the men I just mentioned have faults and they will be easy to find. It just makes me wonder...why must he point this out so often? What is he trying to prove? Besides that he's right and they're not of course.

I had a guy in my church who was like this and when we came to a significant disagreement in Scripture about divorce and remarriage, he was dead-right certain that he was right and we were all wrong. I asked him: "Can you even imagine for one minute the possibility that you may have misunderstood something and that you might be wrong on this issue and be willing to learn from others' views?" He looked at us with a straight face and said. "No, I don't think so." He was certain he was right, but what it really was, was pride.  He wasn't willing to bend on anything else either, like how often his Bible study group should meet in the week.

Was it pride or love that is behind the insistence of his own certainty? Pride is hard to pin on someone objectively, but could this be the reason this blogger writes 7-13 page blog posts every two days addressing one controversy after another as well as following multiple blogs and following up on multiple comment threads?  If I were a member of his church, paying his would be problematic.

 **Granted, my presence in the blogosphere has been a little heavier than usual in the last couple weeks, but I usually have huge gaps in between my blogging. If I didn't, my wife would get on my case for meddling too much. I'll probably hear about it after this post too!**

Could it be that pride has motivated me to write this post, especially since he was very condescending to me in a comment on his blog recently? Sure. It could be,  and I wouldn't fault you if you think so. I hope not. I really wish this guy could see himself. Some of you who follow my blog may remember back in 2006-2010, I cranked out posts every week being hyper-critical of Fundamentalism because I had to prove to everyone that they were leading people astray and that I had found the truth and that I had seen the light! My own family had the love and the guts to tell me that I was just making myself look like a jerk. I stopped blogging for about 7 months to examine myself. I'm sure I still come off as a jerk sometimes and I have to repent of it. A couple of guys got on me for using "Nazi" in a cavalier manner, and I had to retract it and apologize. I'm glad I wasn't too certain about my rightness in choosing that word.

I really wish this blogger would express more passion about the gospel than he does about all these other issues. But even expressing the gospel as central or of first importance goes against his whole system of thought.



jntskip said...

Sorry he's been on you again.
Then, again, what should we expect?
Hang in there.

Steve Finnell said...


A favorite defense for those who do not want to obey God's terms for pardon, is to label strict obedience to God as Phariseeism. Is Phariseeism keeping God's law to the letter?

LEGALISM DEFINED: Strict and literal adherence to law.

Were the Pharisees guilty of legalism? No they were not. The Pharisees practiced illegalism. They were not legal.

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so they might put Him to death.

Is obtaining false testimony an example of strict adherence to God's law?

Matthew 28:11-13...the chief priests...12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers. 13 and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and sole Him away while we were asleep.'

Is conspiring to bribe men to lie, strict adherence to God's law?

Matthew 23:14[ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

Was devouring widow's houses an example of legalism or illegalism? Were the Pharisees literally following God's law by devouring widows' houses?

Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For 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 did not reprimand the Pharisees for their strict compliance to God's law? No, it was the exact opposite. The Pharisees were neglecting strict obedience to the law.


The legalism of the Pharisees was because they followed man-made traditions, not because they followed God's law to the letter.

Mark 7:1-7 .....5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" 6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips. But their heart is far from Me, 7 'But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the precepts of men.'

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for teaching the traditions of Men. Jesus did not scold them for literal obedience to God's laws.

Mark 7:8 Neglecting the commandments of God, you hold to the traditions of men."

The Pharisees were not practicing legalism by strict obedience to God's law. They were illegal for neglecting God's commandments and keeping man-made traditions.

Is teaching what Jesus said in, Mark 16:16, being Pharisaical.
(Mark 16: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved....)

Would it be a tradition of men to say that "has been baptized shall be saved?" No it would not; it would the words of Jesus Christ.

To claim that Christians are practicing the legalism of the Pharisees because they say you have to be obedient to God's terms for pardon in order to be saved, is factually incorrect.




A. FAITH: John 3:16
B. REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38
C. CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10
D. WATER BAPTISM: 1 Peter 3:20-21

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