Saturday, October 27, 2012

Accidental Pharisees - Review

The Pharisees

What were they thinking?

The Son of God himself shows up full of grace and truth, and all they wanted to do is argue over weekends and hand washing! Glad I'm not like those sinners. I wouldn't have been so foolish. It just goes to show that some people, just don't get it!

Wow, I'm starting to sound a little Pharisaical myself. It seems that even when we have the best of intentions to love and obey God, we can sometimes end up fighting against him.

This is exactly the sort of thing Larry Osborne discusses in his book Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith. It seems that it is often those who earnestly seek God the most, that succumb to the same errors that have made the Pharisees infamous.

I'm not going to lie. At times, I found myself becoming a little uncomfortable while reading this one. Osborne takes on some of today's most popular ideas, explaining how that by taking even "good" ideas too far, they can lead us into the life of the Pharisees. He covers the topics of pride, exclusivity, legalism, idolizing the past, the quest for uniformity, and gift projection. Each of these are approached with a loving, yet critical eye through the lens of scripture.

To highlight a few points, his treatment of exclusivity was rather well done. It seems we can sometimes be more preoccupied with thinning the herd as opposed to expanding the kingdom. Another topic Larry Osborne expounded upon, was the difference between unity and uniformity. As Christians we find our unity in our belonging to and life in Christ. The problem arises when we insist on uniformity instead of unity. While there are non-negotiable beliefs to be defended, there are less detrimental doctrines where it is acceptable to agree to disagree.

The topic I most appreciated was part five, Idolizing the Past: When Idealism Distorts Reality. Were the good old days, all that good? By taking an honest look at the church throughout history, Larry shows us that today's mess of a church, isn't all that much different. So often we lament the current state of affairs, not realizing that God has always "drawn straight lines with crooked sticks."

But a strange thing happens with the passage of time. The farther removed we get from the stick, the more likely we are to credit the stick (rather than the divine artist) as the reason for the straight line. And the closer we are to a crooked stick, the harder it is for us to the straight line being drawn.

One last thing I'd like to address is gift projection. This can cause many problems. We can begin to look down on anyone who doesn't share our God given gifts. Those who are blessed with say, the gift of evangelism, can sometimes look at those without it as less committed Christians, or maybe not even Christian at all. It can also lead to an over emphasis of one particular gift that may currently be the most popular, to the neglect of all others. Going right along with the dangers of uniformity, we think everyone should be just like us.

Everyone one needs to read this one. I don't think anyone can deny that we all suffer from at least some of these temptations.

I'd like to thank Cross Focused Reviews for sending me this free copy for review.
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