********************In Mark 7:13, Jesus said:
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
This could be a bumper sticker for what I'll call "the Pharisees of the left." The Pharisees didn't just add to the Word of God---they also subtracted from God's Word. They wished to make "the word of God of none effect," the parts they don't like obeying. They did that by leaving out mercy and judgment and faith for tithing on little herbs (Matthew 23:23). They did that with "corban" so that they could abstain from supporting their parents (Mark 7:7-12). They also attempt to reduce God's laws to a smaller number by ranking doctrines (Mark 12:28). They did all this to make salvation and sanctification easier, more convenient, and more comfortable on their own. It is something that you saw the Jesuit monks practice in the medieval period, called casuistry. It is a form of left-wing legalism. All of what I'm describing is the bread and butter of liberalism, and now evangelicalism and even much of fundamentalism.
Know this about the left I'm describing. They have very loud fanfare, but don't let that confuse you. Their loud fanfare is the cover for their little faith, weak minds, and poor arguments. They are the strawman in the Wizard of Oz. They have the diploma, which is the major and perhaps only evidence for their brains. They are good on fanfare, what is really sounding brass. It makes a loud noise, but is worthless. What they are doing is giving away the faith and sabotaging biblical Christianity for their own convenience, just like the Pharisees were doing with the Old Testament and Jeroboam did with worship in Jerusalem. Their organizations and institutions and "success" have become far more important than the truth itself.
I want to concentrate on new evangelicalism or evangelicalism and fundamentalism, because that's where the greatest danger is.
The Pharisees were into their props and instruments of self promotion. This was their loud fanfare. They would throw the ashes on their face, wear the phylacteries, put on sad faces, and bruise themselves to make an impression that they were serious for God. It was so much a show. With today's left, it goes a different direction. They embrace a populism with an emphasis on creature comfort, so the left show a faux identification with these. They make an impression in fitting with an Oprah generation. Instead of the trappings of first century Judaism, they target a different kind of worldliness.
Let me describe. Come as you are. Leadership photo with everyone dressed down. New emphasis on social causes---the soup lines of the Hollywood elite. In certain cases, the moussed up hair, soul patch, and brand names that imitate poverty. Today's noble savage. Gritty urban or graffiti font on the brochure. Earnest, whispery, throaty tones in the voice, much like today's soul singers, Alicia Keys or even Justin Bieber (though they wouldn't want to admit the latter). And then everybody is your pal, like Woody in Toy Story, a friend indeed. All of this is strategic, the modern fanfare parallel to the Pharisees with their first century Jewish crowd. But that's not all.
For centuries, Christians believed and obeyed the Scripture, especially in practical matters, a particular way. As the culture has changed, new evangelicalism or evangelicalism and now fundamentalism has changed to conform to the zeitgeist. This is where they use the Pharisaical tactics to make the Word of God of none effect. To protect their numbers, their payroll, and other infrastructure for the movement, they give up on distinctions in dress between men and women, modesty, reverent worship music, roles of men and women, cessationism, and more. They use the same type of reasoning that the religious leaders of Jesus' day did with corban in order to dispose of thousands of years of practice.
In order then to protect what they've got going, the evangelicals and fundamentalists use the same type of tactics that the Pharisees did. They said Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebub. They've got no proof, but if you keep saying it enough times, a lot of people will believe it. Their professed evidence that Jesus was with Satan was that Jesus hung out with the obvious friends of Satan, so there you go. The evangelicals and fundamentalists will call you Amish, say you're irrelevant, have a remnant mentality, you're myopic, you're judgmental, etc., either psychobabble or red herrings.
What's ironic to me with the evangelicals and fundamentalists is their similarities with the Jack Hyles movement, which was all about bells and whistles. Both major on programs and demographics and incentives and youth culture and business practices. The former would never want to be associated with the latter, but both use a similar template for church growth.
The evangelicals and the fundamentalists also both have their scribes that are the academic or legal wing of their movement. For the evangelicals, it is the Evangelical Theological Society and their graduate schools, and for fundamentalists, it is the colleges and seminaries. Christians since Christ believed in the preservation of Scripture. This is the historic position. With that also came certainty and authority. The faux authority of the evangelicals and fundamentalists is their degrees and papers and self-endorsement and accreditation. This parallels with the difference between Jesus and the scribes. Jesus spoke with authority, because His was the Word of God. The scribes quoted each other. Why is it true? Because Rabbi So-and-So says so. Well, why is he right? Of course, because Rabbi This-and-That also said he was right. And plus it has worked! And who do you have who agrees with you? You're irrelevant!
Have the above societies of sacredotalism increased faith? No. Instead of faith in Scripture, it becomes faith in scholarship. We were once sure we had all the Words. Now we're not sure. We were once sure what Scripture meant. Now we're not sure. We were once sure how the Bible applied. Now we're not sure. But we're smarter! We've got the Dan Wallace and James White position to combat the Bart Ehrman position. Both sides are unsure, but it's a degree of uncertainty. And because of scholarship, we're told that's how it's got to be. With that as your foundation, it's simple to see why pragmatism becomes the actual rule for the day.
There is far less holiness. Children are disobeying their parents. People are more into material things. We've got the Bible, but everything is reduced to a syllogism. This is what evangelicalism and fundamentalism has given us.
Ahhh! But you've got an argument! What about the expositors! There is far more exposition today! I am thankful for exposition, but exposition has become a medium for allowing worldliness and sin. Exposition has become the end all. I expose the Bible. I preach through books, but you've got to deal with what it says. The teaching is not a replacement for obedience. Like the Corinthians, evangelicalism and fundamentalism are puffed up with knowledge. The Corinthians knew that meat wasn't an idol and that knowledge puffed them up (1 Cor 8:1). They use their "teaching" time to explain away centuries of biblical practices. The Pharisees taught Scripture. They used the Bible. But then they made the Word of God of none effect with what was little more than excuses. That's what evangelicalism and fundamentalism has gotten us. The type of exposition that centers on interpretation results in a form of godliness, excused by the ability to parse and conjugate. The exposition falls short of exposing the lives of the hearers.
The Pharisees of the left require their liberty. They're better than you because they have a lower standard but you can reach up to their exalted status if you would do the same. The most godly are less sure and more uncertain. Uncertainty is humility is authenticity.
Pastors and their churches have no need for evangelicalism or fundamentalism. You shouldn't be cowered by or influenced by them. They are one of those ghost cities that majors on infrastructure. Behind the doors, you won't find much. Don't be intimidated by their loud fanfare.