The New Pharisiasm

December 22, 2008

I was always fascinated by the pharisees.  When I learned that they had created a whole model of living that had the weight of scripture with extrascriptural practices I could see why Jesus, the inspirer of scripture, was so mad at them.  Neil Cole says we’re doing the same thing now.

Along the same line, the church has laid down what it considers healthy constraints to safeguard the righteous standards of God’s people. Directives are given such as: go to church (read a religious event on Sundays or in some cases Saturdays), don’t listen to secular music, stay away from R-rated movies, and abstain from all alcohol. These are not bad ideas for some people and may even be wise suggestions given the right context. Unfortunately, what begins as suggestion soon attains the clout of holy writ, especially when religious leaders pronounce them with authority and support them with Scripture verses ripped violently out of context. In little time we find ourselves functioning in a religious culture that has biblical principles intertwined with man-made injunctions, and few can distinguish between them. In fact we are certain to mix up the two, and spiritual priorities get messed up.

This is the problem, people start to think going to Church and living a good life abstaining from various “evil” things is all it takes to be a “good” Christian.  Unfortuately,we’re called to so much more.  As Cole says, we’re called to be living “in radical obedience to his word” not the extra stuff.


One comment

  1. Totally agree – I would go a step further and say that human religiousity can distort divine intentions beyond recognition.

    The last supper strikes me as a very intimate event, and I imagine that every time the apostles ate together after that, it really hit them. When they started to expand their group, I imagine others must have been amazed by their story and sat in on the meal in absolute respect. At some point, someone with a bit of power got involved and (probably with good intentions) declared the Eucharist an institution.

    Now, it has become such a weighted ritual it’s sometimes hard to tell what exactly the focal point is.

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