Pharisaism and the PB

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Prufrock, May 27, 2009.

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  1. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    I've been slightly troubled of late, seeing the word "Pharisee" tossed around several times lately on the board, generally in reference to positions more scrupulous than our own. Brothers, this should not be!

    Close obedience to the precepts of the law, and a deep concern for walking in its commandments does not make one a Pharisee: trusting in descent from Abraham; boasting in our perfect and blameless obedience to the Law; actually disobeying God's law by adherence to man-made traditions; confidence that we are accepted by God on account of our own purity; confidence in outward ceremony and ritual rather than inward, spiritual faith, charity and obedience -- these things are Pharisaical, not a brother who may be more scrupulous than you. A strong desire, on account of confidence and thanksgiving before God for our salvation, to walk perfectly in and delight in his precepts is something we should all strive after.
  2. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    I think the term Pharisee is appropriate when someone begins to make a law which is not a law, and then expects other to hold to that law. Many times the created law is good. Such as washing your hands. That was a good idea, which came about during the time of the captivity, because they had no temple, and inferred that we are the temple of God. Why not wash ourselves and our stuff like we washed the stuff in the temple. Good theology. Good idea. Paul elaborates on this concept in the NT. However, them they were wrong when they expected other to lives by their deductions/laws. That is when someone becomes like a Pharisee. I think we come close on this board at times.
  3. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    That is well stated, Paul.

    BTW, my reference to Phariseeism in the thread about the 2nd commandment was not tossed out to anyone in particular, but to humanity in general. Humans like legalism. It is our in our fallen nature to want a list of rules rather than understanding the principle behind the laws of God. One issue that I have observed is that while a first generation may develop a 'list of rules' with the greatest of intentions, and said list may well be warranted scripturally, by the time the third generation rolls around it is the standard rather than the Scriptures. This has much to do with discipleship and catechism of children.
  4. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    I am out of thanks, Lawrence, but...thanks!
  5. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm out too! It's a conspiracy! :tinfoilhat:
  6. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    I will admit to being one who often thinks the term "Pharisee" is fitting on this board. Granted, I haven't been around too long, but from my perspective there is A LOT of the discussion here revolves around labeling things sin.
    Don't misunderstand what I'm saying--I'm not suggesting we shouldn't call sin sin. What I am saying is that there appears to be a strong desire by many to create Do's and Do Not lists.

    I don't think you have to claim perfect obedience to be Pharisaical--everybody is always quick to point out that they are sinners.
  7. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Can we get a tinfoilhat smilie?????
    I would add it to my signature!
  8. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Might be a good idea to have a little more charity than to label people as listmakers who call things sin that you think are not.
  9. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    So is this thread not open to honest discussion? Or is the point for everyone to just jump aboard and give out Thanks?

    I'm not trying to call anybody anything. I'm offering my honest opinion on what I perceive. You can do with it what you want.
  10. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Honest discussion is certainly allowed. I just gave you some, but you
    apparently didn't take it to heart. You have made a charge that is
    ungracious, while at the same time claiming your own moral high ground.
    That's my honest discussion, for what it's worth.
  11. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    That's why I wrote it that way - as a way to ask for one!! :lol: It would also be in my signature. Maybe it would help me get extra stations on my satellite too! :lol:
  12. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    The Pharisee found hypocrisy the most loathsome of all anti-virtues and they held primarily to this teaching "Whatever good a man does he should do it for the glory of God".

    Jesus, pinpointed the abuses of the pharisees and unfortunately this gave the pharisees a notoriety that became a negative generalization that pharisees are hypocrites.

    I believe that the reformed are most like the pharisees in all the right ways. We hold to a stricter observance of the law than the average church and church goer, the threads on the 2nd commandment are a clear demonstration of this fact. We hold to a stricter observance of worship regulations as the debates over the RWP show. We hold to a more precise listing and teaching of biblical doctrine than the average "We have no creed but Christ" church. These were the goals or purity, precision and devotion that moved the pharisees.

    I don't run from being called a pharisee anymore than I run from being called a calvinist which is also a perjorative term to the non-calvinist. Our response should be to accept that we do act in many ways to be a mainstay of the faith as did the pharisees and then guard ourselves, and examine ourselves that we don't fall into the pitfalls and abuses that the ancient pharisees fell into. Christ's warnings to the pharisees are just as relevant for us as they were to the brotherhood of old Israel.
  13. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

    A pharisee is not one who follows a strict life, even man made rules. Jesus condemned the Pharisees not because of their do's and don'ts but because of their attitude and failure to see they were sinner's in the need of grace like all the rest. We might all examine ourselves and be careful not to judge others for not seeing eye to eye on everything. Pride is a terrible sin, and often overlooked. I have been there. I remember one time, when I was in a legalistic church that taught against wearing any form of jewelry, among other things. I was at a Bible conference for the denomination I was in. Many churches did not teach the things my pastor taught. I remember looking down on some young laidies sitting in front of me because they were wearing jewelry. I guess I thought I was holier than them, until the Lord smote my heart right there. The Holy Spirit convicted me deeply. I could not understand why, but knew that my attitude must have stunk to heaven. :judge:
  14. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    I don't think I made any ungracious charges. I said there appears to be a strong desire by many to make lists. I didn't say it in a mean way--I just offered my opinion.
    I'm not singling anyone out. All you have to do is scroll through the threads of the last couple days and see how many are about calling this or that sin.

    And I have claimed no moral high ground.
  15. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Lawrence said some good things above; catechizing and educating from the early years as to why we obey, and what we obey, and how we know what and what not to obey is paramount.

    Nor can we allow one person's private notion of right and wrong be made law for others. Scripture is the only judge of that. But this also means that when scripture speaks, we must obey; and so if one's careful reading of scripture discovers certain principles or actions which we are commanded to perform or avoid, this is far from wrong.

    At the very least, we need to be far more careful in our presumption of knowing a person's heart; we might think they're just a "listmaker" or that they care more about externals than internals, but this is something we simply do not and cannot know.

    "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay the tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Our right priority on "internals" does not leave "externals" to be less important.
  16. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    Respectfully...should this go both ways?
  17. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    I can respect that, Bob. You are right about reformers being strict observers of the law--that is good. We all should be. What I am critical of is calling this or that wrong when it is not clearly spelled out in Scripture.
  18. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior


    I understand your point and to a certain extent I agree, although I don't think being very detailed in what we define as sin is Pharisaical.

    But your statement is inherently hypocritical: you basically created a Do Not list by saying we should not create Do Not lists. In other words, by condemning list-makers you effectively made a list yourself. Though I agree with you in principle, I also agree with Todd that you could be a bit more gracious. :2cents:
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Is calling something sin Pharisaical? Are you referring to crosses and images being used in worship? What does the Regulative Principle in Worship have to say about such? If something is bothersome to someones conscience they should be cautious and call it sin for themselves. But there is weaker consciences over matters of liberty. Shall we eat meat offered to idols? It is sin for all in some instances. But not sin for some in other situations as Paul mentioned in Corinthians. There is a need to call things sin and even to list sin. The law of God does this.

    Just my humble opinion
  20. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    This is fuzzy logic. His only options are not being anti-list making or antinomian. He is against making a sin list of things that are not clearly spelled out in scripture. He not being a david hume.
  21. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    Fair enough, but that's not what he said in his original post. He condemned list-making in general, not simply list-making of things not found in the Bible.
  22. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    I am fine with being as detailed in labeling things sin as Scripture is.

    You are right. I could have gone into greater detail, but I was trying to be quick and brief in offering my opinion. Obviously it's OK to have a list of Do Nots...we have that in Scripture. When we add to that, I think there's a problem. I don't think its hypocritical to say that we shouldn't add laws which aren't in Scripture, and that's what I was trying to say.

    I appreciate the criticism. It's always welcome. Though I'd like some clarification on how to more graciously say that sometimes the Pharisaical label is fitting? I haven't been looking for opportunities to criticize anyone, but a thread was opened up on this very topic. I offered my opinion.

    Which goes back to my earlier question--are threads like this only for giving Thanks, or is criticism welcome? If I was ungracious, I am in error.
  23. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    There is nothing wrong with a "list" of "Do" and "Do Not", it's how you view that list. The Law is perfect and good and, depending upon the circumstances, it is perfectly appropriate to identify things that are wicked according to the Law of God. The problem arises when one is trying to live by this list as a way of ascent to God - seeing the list itself as the end.

    Many, for instance, snip from the Sermon on the Mount the Commandment "Do not Judge" and, yet, Christ holds forward many positions where He is calling people to make application and judge whether or not they are judgmental in a way that is a violation of the principle He teaches.

    I think Bob made a good observation that the goal that the Pharisees originally sought, in terms of religious reform and purity, was not a bad one. Ultimately, however, what divides a Judaizer from a person who is trying to take seriously the command to be holy is where his hope lies.

    The Law drives us, with regenerate eyes, to see our need for a perfect Savior but, once redeemed, its principle use (as Calvin noted) is an instructor and source of wisdom for how to please God. David was not trusting in the Law when he exclaimed that he loved the Law of God but was manifesting a regenerate heart that sees in the Law the character of a Holy God that has redeemed sinners by His Grace.

    Far too often, people forget that the Law does not merely exist to say "Ah well, I can never do any of that so I won't even try, nor do I need to, because Christ paid for my sins...."

    How can we hope to note what being alive to Christ and dead to sin (Romans 6) looks like except to look back to the Law and note what sin is?

    Like any growth in maturity, sometimes honoring a principle starts out by identifying the lists of things that you know are to be avoided as well as the positive implications of what the Law enjoins. Growth in grace will reveal some things that are less obvious as the person walks in wisdom and the list becomes more reflexive. Yet, even as a person becomes wiser there are always going to be lists of obvious sins that the Law forbids or that the Law positively requires and to assume that a list is the sign of a Pharisee is a very immature view.
  24. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    It is started to remind us not to make unbecoming accusations against our brethren in threads.
  25. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    I beg to differ. Your claim that there are those who like to make lists is putting yourself above that and judging it, like it or not. You are thereby claiming a moral high ground, and even moreso because you are accepting the statement that Phariseeism is characteristic of many, even these same people who "like to make lists", here at the PB. You can't very well back out of such a statement by saying "I'm making no charges" and "I'm claiming no high ground." You can say it as nicely as you like, but the fact remains that you are charging many here with Phariseeism because, as you say, they like to note things that are sin (which is NOT Phariseeism in the slightest, unless you wish to charge our Lord, Peter, Paul, James and John with Phariseeism)
  26. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    May I ask why? Lots of things are not clearly spelled out in Scripture. If a sound argument can be made, why can't one offer his opinion that it is sinful without being labelled a Pharisee?
  27. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    I've come to the conclusion that some people are going to call me a Pharisee because of my beliefs, no matter what. So I just request that they call me Mrs. Pharisee. :smug: Whaddya gonna do? :smug:
  28. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    The fact that this is a reformed board should prevent someone from jumping to the conclusion that people here are trying to work for salvation. It is the defining principle of Calvinism that we cannot earn our salvation. The charitable conclusion would be that they are examining themselves to see if they are offending God in word or deed. That they want to be more like Jesus. That they love God's law and meditate on it day and night. Anyone who mocks that kind of searching of the scriptures should be suspect in this arena and not the other way around.
  29. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    Hey there, Mrs. Pharisee. I like your nice, wide philacteries. Wanna date?

  30. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    Amen. Phariseeism and legalism is teaching that you're not justified unless you do "such and such". These terms (like sooooooo many others) have been perverted and people use them to describe anyone who separates themselves from certain things in order to live a holy life.

    I had a great conversation with our pastor's wife once about issues Christians differ about which usually cause these accusations to fly. She said that people who abstain from Christmas, Harry Potter books, women's pants, movies, etc., etc., are simply trying to live holy lives. They are saved and they want to live a holy life unto the Lord and please the God who has saved them. They should be encouraged, not put down and judged. Nor should we put down and judge people who see these areas differently and assume they don't care anything about living the Christian life.

    My brothers and sisters may see things differently from me, but God's accepted them, and so must I. They have my prayers when they ask for them, my fellowship, my charity or anything else they need.
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