Does Fundamentalist = Pharisee?
by Luke Joshua Davis
In Jesus' day the Pharisee was considered the most upstanding, religious people. The bible has a lot to say about them. Most of it is bad, but the Pharisees did have some very admirable qualities.
The Pharisees memorized scripture in a way that is unheard of today. They would rather miss a meal than miss a prayer. They always went to church and they always dressed for the occasion. If a Pharisee lived in our day, you would not see them at church in jeans and a t-shirt! A Pharisee faithfully gave exactly what was required of him. They had a zeal that modern Christians can not begin to understand. Pharisees were defiantly not fair-weather in their beliefs. It consumed every aspect of their lives.
Even though they kept the law better than anyone, they have gone down in history as hypocrites. The worst example of how a Christian should act.
Jesus sums up the Pharisees problem in Matt 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." The Pharisees followed the letter of the law, which is good, but they ignored the spirit of the law. They also made the mistake of substituting their own, stricter standards in place of Gods law, thereby implying that they knew better than God. They compounded their problems by being quick to judge their "pet" sins, while ignoring their own sins.
The Pharisees should serve as a warning to us all; especially those of us who have grown up in church and who look squeaky clean on the outside. I, fortunately and unfortunately, fit that mold.
On paper I'm perfect. I've always gone to church and continue to be faithful, even though I don't have to. I've never gotten in tremendous trouble. I've never tasted alcohol and smoking abhors me. I don't curse, I don't get angry, and I don't make or listen to inappropriate jokes. I cannot lie. I've never been sexually immoral and I only date Christians of like faith.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a sinner. In fact I'm very good at sinning. I have a problem with bitterness and forgiveness. I rebel against authority. I often find myself gossiping and manipulating. I get terribly jealous and materialistic, and don't forget those secret sins that are just to embarrassing to admit. Like most Christians, I just hide it well.
The problem is that on the outside I do look good, which makes me think I am good. I have no terrible sin to be saved from, so why do I need to be saved? Why do I need God if I am already good?
Jesus speaks of this problem in Luke 18:9-14 "9And
he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were
righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up into the temple to pray;
the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed
thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners,
unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week,
I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off,
would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast,
saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to
his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself
shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
We need to be careful that we do not become self sufficient. It is easy to put on our suit, go to church, and look perfect. We make personal standards and require others to adhere to them. You do realize the bible never says it is a sin to go to the movie theater, listen to rock music, wear shorts to church, or use a translation other than the KJV, don't you? God has given us his perfect word; we don't need to add to it.
I am concerned, very concerned, that in Gods eyes Fundamentalists have become the new Pharisees.
You can contact Luke Joshua Davis at email@example.com