Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Evangelical or Fundamentalist Pharisaism part two

The Pharisees were religious liars. We live in a world of lies. Satan is a liar and he also happens to be the prince of this world, so we can expect there to be lies everywhere. That's why none of us can be naive. Recently we watched the Harold Camping fiasco in which he told dangerous, damaging, and destructive religious lies about people's future. They trusted him and made bad decisions based on his false information. Most of the world is stuck in some kind of lie.

The United States right now is opting to believe a lie about its future, about most of their entitlement programs. I believe that the banks want Americans to think that they are better off than they really are, when half or more of its home-owners still may owe more than their houses are worth. Banks don't want people to think about that. And the housing market should be flooded with foreclosures, but that would kill the banks. They are hoping the economy will get better so that people will get jobs and be able to pay on their mortgages again. But the President of the U.S. wants to be reelected and he wants you to think that the country is fine, and the mainstream media is invested in him and they also want Americans to believe he's doing a great job. Lies are everywhere.

There is no more damaging lie, however, than a religious lie. It relates to eternity. And the Pharisees were holding together a house of cards with as many well-placed lies as they could manage in order to keep fooling their constituents. Unfortunately, we are living with similar kind of conditions in evangelicalism and fundamentalism today.

The Bible is the truth. God's Word is truth. God tells the truth. But people can take what God said and tweak it and spin it into something that it isn't. Churches and religious organizations are trying to keep their supporters just like the banks are attempting to keep receiving mortgage payments. They want to succeed and they know that people might say they want to hear the truth, but they actually like some mixture of truth and error that is more palatable to them.

For instance, the law wasn't altogether acceptable to a Jew. It was too strict. It was too harsh. It was too onerous. It was too weighty. They thought they had to be righteous by their own deeds, but they couldn't accomplish that. It was impossible. So they altered the law into something they could keep on their own. It was a new law system that wasn't even the law. They were told religious lies that would make them think they would be fine with that.

Evangelicalism and fundamentalism does the same thing today. They do it the same way as the Pharisees did. They minimize and reduce God's standards, His will, to something that people are more comfortable with. God's will is complete sacrifice, but evangelicalism and fundamentalism is something far short of that. Evangelicalism and fundamentalism want to give all the supposed benefits of Scriptural obedience without the responsibilities. This is not a dependence upon the grace of God. It is a form of legalism, a left-wing kind of legalism, that makes grace a garbage can that receives worldly lust.

Today so much of professing Christianity is about convenience and feelings and a warm experience, and this is fostered by evangelicalism and fundamentalism, because it is what people want Christianity to be. And so evangelicalism and fundamentalism has understood what people like and have altered Christianity to different degrees to make it more palatable to people. It is a strategy. But it is a lie too. God still wants a certain behavior. He still wants certain lifestyle. He still wants a certain liberty. But those are inconvenient to people, so evangelicalism and fundamentalism has made those practices non-essentials. You don't have to believe or practice those things in order to be a good Christian. As a matter of fact, if you do them or say that they are necessary, when they are "non-essentials," you are actually a worse Christian. The Pharisees of Jesus' day used the same type of strategy in order to sell their religion to the people.

However, when we stand before God, we will give an account for what the Bible actually does say, not the watered down, compromised version that is offered by evangelicalism and fundamentalism. God is not winking at the violations of what He mandated in His Word, of the applications of His truths in the Bible. Those lies might be acceptable now, but they will be manifest later for the lies that they are.

What is as offensive as anything about the lies is that today they are part of what evangelicalism and fundamentalism uses to argue for their own success. Whatever popularity they still have in a world that is becoming increasingly disinterested in anything of the truth of the Bible very often comes from the success of evangelical and fundamentalist compromise. The constituents don't have to do everything the Bible says, and it is called grace. And if someone points that out, he is marginalized, called a legalist, or is labeled as someone who doesn't understand the grace of God. This defense of themselves, which is part of the lie, gives people a basis to keep believing and living those lies that they do. And it is enough to cobble together a coalition that keeps evangelicalism and fundamentalism afloat.

So not only do lies buttress the evangelical and fundamentalist world, but they are called special and important truths that are a vital part of Christianity. Everyone is better off because of them. Those who do not follow these compromises of the truth are actually the Pharisees and the liars. Know this. These lies are not acceptable to God. They are wood, hay, and stubble, posing as gold, silver, and precious stones. And in the end, they will burn. You don't want to believe lies and base your eternity upon them, including evangelical and fundamentalist ones.

What occurred when anyone criticized the Pharisees, exposing their fraudulence? They got treated in an unscriptural manner. There was no Biblical, Godly way that they handled their critics. In the case of Jesus, they wanted to kill, just to shut Him up. I've seen the same type of behavior from evangelical and fundamentalist Pharisees as well. You point out a particular disobedience that they see as a non-essential, actually something they don't like to do and they don't want to hear about, and they mock and marginalize. In the online world, they don't let you comment, shut you out, and then spend comment after comment ridiculing you, lying about you, slandering you, and offering the cold shoulder treatment. This is what Pharisees do to protect their lie.

2 comments:

Jonathan Speer said...

Thanks for writing on this subject. The truth about legalism and pharisee-ism is not easy to come by in this day.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

If the word "doctrine" comes from the Greek word didache "teaching"
there would be no part of the Scripture that would not be essential. If the term orthodoxy refers to "the body of essentials biblical teachings." Is that saying there are some beliefs that would be non-essential?

I don't believe any teaching of Christ or Paul would be non essential. With that said there are teachings of scriptures that seem to give liberty as how we are to interpret them. Maybe its because of our untrained minds.

All doctrine is essential, the problem is how we interpret the meaning as to how we are to apply that meaning into our lives and our church lives. And making a definitive judgments on all doctrine is rather hard.

No one person has a 100% correct interpretation of all doctrine. Otherwise all would believe for example: Creation occurred in a seven day period, and spoken into existence by God.

I realize there are many in both groups that say some doctrines are not essential but not all do that.