You might be a Pharisee if…

If you exile a family for the unconditional love of their gay daughter, you might be a Pharisee.
If you “pray” for the continued discrimination of any group of people, you might be a Pharisee.
If you exalt harbingers of fear and hate as righteous in the eyes of God, you might be a Pharisee.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus is stridently critical of the Pharisees and their role as power brokers between the aristocracy and the masses through their adherence to the minutia of law rather than living by the Spirit of Love. In our world today we see example after example of Pharisees masquerading as Christians. For the Pharisees of today, faith is predicated on conformity and condemnation rather than infused with compassion. The Pharisees of today harbor disdain for the poor, hungry and hopeless, idolize  past that never was and reject the work of the Holy Spirit in their world, congregations and hearts.   Legalistic “Christians” betray the Gospel they claim to love and stand in direct succession to the legacy of the ancient Pharisees in allegiance to their god, Power.  These “faithful” reject true fellowship with their neighbor and stand as circuit breakers blocking the free transmission of Grace. These “believers” are the brood of vipers still paying Judas, whispering now in Pilot’s ear, and spitting on the One who comes to set us free.

Please feel free to add your own examples of today’s Pharisees in the comments below.

UPDATE:

This post has caused a bit of unrest for a few readers and consequently for me over a long night of thinking about my motives and actions in writing this piece.  I’m not one for a writer having to justify or explain their craft to folks who do not have the imagination to understand what is going on but because there were some serious concerns raised by this post I took it seriously, I took it down for the night to think carefully about what it is I wanted to do here.

I stand by this post.  Here is why.

In this post I am doing a couple of very intentional things.

First, I am speaking directly to and about people who claim a knowledge of and devotion to the Bible.  Be it KJV, NLT or NRSV, I am speaking to people who say they read and love the bible. This post is based in a particular narrative that has been used by a particular subset of the Christian culture to abuse many others around the world. The bible is a collection of stories that lifts up a host of complex characters. Characters.  Please understand, especially those of you who are new around these parts, I DO NOT read the bible as a literal/factual history book as do some of my Christian sisters and brothers.  Therefore, I do not for one moment connect the Pharisees in the stories with any thoughts or feelings about historical or current Judaism.  I understand the Pharisees are an important group within historical Judaism, especially in the late Second temple period.  I also know that there are no surviving texts written by a “committed Pharisee” and no archaeological finds that mention them. This post of mine follows the biblical tradition of seeing the Pharisees as a negative foil for Jesus.  They represent the religious elite (who rarely have anything in common with the religious masses) who are the retainers of power.  In the biblical story the Pharisees represent key elements in the cosmic battle between Jesus and evil.  The evil they represent is not Judaism.  Let me say THAT again.  The evil they represent is NOT JUDAISM.  The evil they represent is a preoccupation with issues of purity, tithing and legal interpretations that Jesus denounces as merely human contrivance. (Mark 2:1-36 and Mark 7:5-8).

So that leads me to the second thing I am doing, and the point of the post.  I am employing a tried and true homiletical device and inviting (although not the least bit gently here) readers to ask themselves which character in a narrative they may be.  In sermons around the country preachers of faith and skill will ask the tender hearts and open minds in their congregations to ask themselves things such as “are you the prodigal son or the brother in this story?”  or perhaps “are you Mary at Jesus’ feet or are you Martha scurrying around in the kitchen?”.  I am doing the same and I am basing my own post on the words of Jesus throughout the Gospel that speak to and about the BEHAVIOR of the religious elite as “blind guides” whose teachings are harmful (Matthew 15:14; 16:11-12) and for being money-hungry, complacent and ineffective in bringing about real change (Luke 11:39-44; 12:1, 16:14-15; 18:9-14)

There is a version of Christianity that deeply resembles the behavior of the Pharisees that Jesus said is NOT the makings of The Kingdom of God.

Here’s just a few descriptions of what it looks like today:

Harboring disdain for our most vulnerable citizens

A sense of moral superiority and favor with God for how much money you have and give to your church

A religiosity obsessed with law while ignoring love

A culture that idolizes a lie about a past that never was

A sanctuary draped in flags of state

A bizarre blend of believing in the right to own guns, the death penalty AND a “right to life”

A religiosity that is driven by conformity and condemnation rather than compassion

A faith that worships the written word rather that The Living Word

A certitude that only your church is the real church

A picking and choosing of literal application of human constructs called “the law”

Conviction that there is only one real form of bread for Eucharist

Belief that there is only one real form of baptism

Engaging in long, public prayers as some spectacle and proof of faithfulness.

Exiling a family for the unconditional love of an LGBT child.

Praying FOR the continued discrimination of ANYONE…

The list can go on and on you see.

So to put a very fine point on it, I apparently need to say that in no way at all do I think that the archetype of the Pharisees represents all of Judaism any more than Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson or James Dobson represent all Christians.

Perhaps my technique is base but to be perfectly honest I am trying to communicate something in overly simplistic terms so that it can be understood by those whose behavior I am critiquing. The religious elite of today, and those who are willing to believe them, are direct descendants of an ethos, doctrine and dogma that is counter to the message of Christ and yet they claim Jesus as their Lord.  I am one who believes, who is called to speak up and call out evil for what it is.  I am clear that those who have hijacked the gospel in the name of nationalism, war- mongering and xenophobia are misrepresenting the one that I call Lord.

Silence is consent.


About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

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  • Dave Trowbridge

    Well done, and again well done.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you Dave :)

  • McJust

    Hi Kimberly. Nothing I can add, except ‘hear hear’ ( or is it ‘here here’?) One comment you made has me curious. You say you don’t read the Bible as a literal/factual history book. Having personally reached a point where I came to the conclusion that we must be reading the Bible ‘wrong’, I’d love to hear more about how you approach/interpret the Bible.

  • James_Jarvis

    If you shame women for being sluts and admire men for being being studs for exactly the same behavior, you might be a Pharisee.

  • k_Lutz

    Thank-you Kimberly for re-posting this. This is a highly pertinent discussion in light of the cultural wars that are now engulfing the world. I believe between the adoration of pharisee-ism and the trivializing of sin, christianity has castrated itself. Christ has only One Body, One Church, and it certainly has nothing to do with the teachings, traditions, and authority abrogated by men.

    You might be a pharisee if you believe your plumbing gives rights to the pulpit that can be denied to different constructs.

    “Silence is consent.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you K_Lutz. This post and the discussion around it still concerns me deeply and I am glad that most folks who read it seem to understand what it is I am doing here.

      Peace.

  • erins1911

    Tony Perkins’ bio says, “Tony has a tremendous burden to reclaim the culture for Christ ….” Funny – I don’t remember Christ coming to reclaim a culture, or even talking about a concern he had for his culture. I do remember him dealing with people in his culture on an individual basis, helping them to understand that point of existence is loving God and their neighbor. I think he presumed that as they did that, life would be better for everyone and “culture” would take care of itself.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Indeed!

  • Mary

    Kimberly,
    I have stopped by your blog from time to time and I know you are a sweet and kind person. I don’t see anything wrong with being angry about what the religious right (or rather wrong) is doing. Most people understand the symbol of the Pharisee, just as they understand the symbol of the Samaritan. Both have diverged from their orginal meanings.
    It must be difficult to be slammed on a near daily basis by these people. I read all three articles. It is pretty sad when people don’t even have a clue as to what they are protesting! If it has the word “gay” attached then I guess that is enough for them!
    it is ridiculous that these people claim that being gay is an “attack” on them! I live in liberal California and I voted for gay marriage. I really thought it was no big deal until the antis came out of the woodwork. In spite of this I have had a hard time convincing people that gays ARE NOT accepted generally in society. I even referred someone to your site (Gay For A Day) and he came back and said that he did not think that your experiences were “typical”
    I am not gay but the religious right pretty much attacks anyone that doesn’t belong to their club. I think gay people get the worst of it but it is shameful the way that they also attack the poor and disabled. I am disabled and have been called all sorts of names by these people because they think I am getting a “free ride” Actually I did work and paid into the system but that does not matter to them. But even if I hadn’t paid into it, being disabled is not a moral issue! That is about as far from Jesus’ teachings as you can get!
    The modern Pharisees are part of the political scene and they seem to think that they should own the country to the exclusion of anyone else. I think it is right and proper to be angry at that. Unfortunately I haven’t a clue as to how communicate with these people. The ones who are open to criticism will listen. The ones who aren’t won’t. Quite frankly I have said far worse things to them than you have said in this article.
    I hope and pray that things will change. In the meantime keep up the good fight!
    Mary ;)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you Mary for taking the time to share so thoughtfully. it is my hope to be both a bridge builder and a truth teller. As I have learned both impulses to not always go together. Thank you for your support!

  • Justin Fox-King

    Kimberly,

    Though I agree with your point, I would like to hear your justification of the pejorative use of Pharisee.

    Thanks.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Justin,

      If you read my entire post very carefully as well as the responses I have made to comments here you will understand what I am doing. I have explained it clearly. But just in case… It is a device much the same as saying “You might be a Martha if…” of “You might be a Prodigal Son if…” It is NOT a pejorative pointing to a people or religion is pointing to a behavior by specific CHARACTERS in a specific narrative that is stridently criticized by Jesus.

      • Justin Fox-King

        I would recommend reading Amy-Jill Levine’s “The Misunderstood Jew” for some comments and insite from a practicing Jew on how such a device (even if the intent is not to insult modern Jews) is received by the people who are the inheritors of the pharisaic tradition.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

          I will do so Justin.

  • Bill Wright

    Kimberly, in the world of the Internet, as in the world of print, the gentle art of satire has long been used to point out foibles of the “others”. Your gentle barbs “you might be a Pharisee if–” riff (to use the jazz idiom) is most (Fox)worthy and joins, in my opinion the Screwtape Letters, a whole bunch of what Ben Franklin wrote and my personal favorite (and one that probably got me fired from at least one job) The Emperor’s New Clothes.

    The supercilious pronouncements of our current crop of Pharisaical polemicists panders to the growing group of our populace displaying what Steve Allen indentified as DUMPTH in his book of of the same title—people who are, again using a book title, this one by Hunter S. Thompson, part of the Nation Of Sheep which “we” have allowed, somehow, to be created…and which “we” bemoan. Another problem, from my perspective, is that the Pharisees and their ilk make good press and good press make good ratings and good ratings make good money. And we end up with more DUMPTH homeschooled kids who would know how to think critically if they had to.

    So, Kimberly..continue to satirize the demons for what they are. Looks to me like ya got some folks who will be with you, watch the naked Pharisees marching in the streets toward their bookburning…not realizing that 451 dergrees F. does nothing to electrons and bubble memory…

    Bill

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Wow, thank you sir!

      • jrieves

        Wow, you just compared to Jeff Foxworthy, C. S. Lewis and Ben Franklin in one sentence. Gotta be a first.

  • Christopher

    Thank you, Kimberly, for your great article! Much of what I’ve written has been about “Pharisaical Foolishness”…not so much to lambaste fundamental Christianity, as to highlight the differences between the historical written Word of God (Law) and the omnipresent Living Word of God (Love). With that being said, one of the most significant things about the presence of the Bible and the example of Christ is their transcendent nature. They transcend any label, denomination, or religion that doesn’t support that Christ is universal, and that we are ALL called to transform into Christs. Rumi said it well, “You are not just the drop in the ocean. You are the mighty ocean in the drop.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank YOU Christopher.

    • Ruth Shaver

      I just had this very conversation today with someone whose understanding of Christianity is Pharisaical. I think I’m going insane because I keep having this same conversation with her and others who come to the office to warn me that God is passing judgment on our congregation because of who we welcome (everyone) and how we treat them (with love). They come convinced they are right. I sometimes wonder if arguing back makes me as much a Pharisee in the other direction, but my heart is heavy if I don’t speak against the imposition of law in place of love. Kimberly, thank you for this article!

  • StRalph

    Well, your nonliteral Pharisees bear only a passing resemblance to the real thing.

    Politically, Pharisees were populists, not elitists. The Sadducees were the elitist power brokers and aristocrats.

    Apart from the Pauline epistles, I’ll mention two other works of ancient literature written by Pharisees. One is “Antiquities of the Jews” by Flavius Josephus, the work (outside of the Bible) to which we owe most of what we know about New Testament-era Jewish history. Josephus identified himself as a Pharisee.

    The other is the Mishnah, the ancient collection of Pharisees’ teaching and commentary on Hebrew scriptures.

    When the “teachers of the law” asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, he gave the famous reply about loving God and loving one’s neighbor. That reply was simply a paraphrase of a teaching given by Hillel, the founder of the Pharisees, which is recorded in the Mishnah. Jesus was showing the Pharisees that he knew their teachings and even agreed with some of them.

    I think, or at least I hope, there’s a difference between having a nonliteral view of Scripture, on one hand, and making claims that are patently false (e.g., Pharisees were elitist power brokers, there are no surviving writings by Pharisees), on the other hand. Even a nonliteral view of Scripture ought to be supported by an understanding of pertinent historical facts.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      I appreciate your correction. I was drawing from research that began with the Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible which included many cited resources. I shall dig deeper to understand what you have shared here.

      The fact remains that the Pharisees stood in league with the Sadducees at times and the fact remains that they were using the legalism of their religion as a barrier to community and God. That is the highest a form of power brokering.

      • Bill Wright

        See above…don’t think you need to wander any farther..

    • Bill Wright

      Have been reviewing this whole thread and I have two really major issues with your thoughts. First, there are at least THREE thought strings or groupings of the Pauline letters…those that have been pretty much confirmed a authentic, those that were written using Paul’s name (and these are the letters, for the most part that “de-radicalize” Paul’s earlier writtings) and then the pastorals that there is no clear agreement. Thus, to use the Pauline letters as a “source” document for Pharisee thinking is probably (to quote Riddick) “shaky”. Next, since the Mishna was actually set down two centuries INTO the Christian era, to think of using that as source material for what the Pharisees were noodling on nearly 250 yeas prior to the actual codification is again, shaky.

      Groups have changing roles in power structures. I would urge you to take a look at some of the work by Crossan. I grok from a number of his works that the Pharisees were effectively henchmen to the Sadducees.

      This, of course, as we used to say in the old days is IMHO and YMMV. .

      • StRalph

        The existence of the Mishnah, Pauline epistles, and Antiquities suffices to refute Kimberly’s claim that there are no surviving writings attributed to Pharisees. Whether or not they can be used to pin down exactly what Pharisees taught or thought at a certain time is an interesting question — but strictly speaking, it’s not the question I sought to answer.

        Would you agree that the Mishnah can safely be regarded as a compilation of oral tradition and/or earlier sources? I.e., it’s not as though it were conceived of whole cloth in the third century, even if it can’t be used to pin down who said what when.

  • Seth

    I might be the most conservative person who reads and comments here (occasionally), but I agreed with most of your post Kimberly. I especially thought these points were noteworthy “Engaging in long, public prayers as some spectacle and proof of faithfulness” and “Belief that there is only one real form of baptism” and “A certitude that only your church is the real church.” All three of these things I have done myself and was a pharisee as a result. I hope and pray that I can escape that attitude and be a simple follower of Jesus…

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Seth,

      Thank you sir for understanding what it is I am trying to do here. Thank you for sharing how you have been a Pharisee in your life. Perhaps it will help others who have their panties in a wad if we can all look at times in our lives when we have been Pharisees. I too have played that role at times in my life, especially around baptism as you note here. I appreciate so much your thoughtful and wise voice at this table.
      K

  • JenellYB

    Good post, Kimberly. It say what has been in so many of our hearts and spirits for so long, that we’ve been “too polite” to come out and say outright. We don’t want to upset people, family, others we care about that are caught up the false religion, by speaking out. but the time has come. we cannot be, CAN NOT be silent any longer. These truths must be said, and brought out into the open.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Indeed – we must raise our voices. The moderate and progressive tribes of Christianity have allowed another form to stand in public consciousness as representative of all American Christianity. We can speak up, act out and counter the voice of vitriol and oppression.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

    “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • RevBill

      You can protest against evil without vilifying those who do evil. Jesus instructed his followers to love their enemies, not to demonize them.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

        I am not demonizing, lordy. I am using a very precise tool to raise awareness.

  • hippiewill

    I understand what you are saying, Sister. Be strong!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you :)

  • Guest

    Typed and deleted. Typed some more, deleted some more. In the end, I just hit ‘Like’. Nothing to apologize for, i don’t think. And unlike RevBill, I don’t think you need to be considerate (I’m rebellious like that, though, so ymmv). You should be as loud and forceful in your tolerance as they are in their intolerance. Call a spade a spade.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      I appreciate your support friend!

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello Kimberly,

    I believe it is vital that people stop basing their theology on an allegedly inerrant Bible and begin view God as a perfect being who cannot utter arbitrary commands against a group of people having a specific inborn orientation:

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/category/homosexuality/

    As long as Evangelicals accept the idea that whatever stands in the Bible is true, we will continue to experience lots of injustice and self-righteousness within the Church.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • RevBill

    Kimberly, I think name calling is a poor strategy to win people to your point of view.
    You wrote, “I also know that there are no surviving texts written by a “committed Pharisee” and no archaeological finds that mention them.” A good portion of the New Testament was written by a Messianic Pharisee named Paul. Take a look at Acts 23 :6. Perhaps you do not believe that this is historical or factual. If not, let us know how you interpret the Bible. How do you choose what to use from the Bible to form your beliefs and behavior? From my reading of the New Testament, Pharisees were well-meaning religious folks who looked down on others as not having a correct idea of God and not conforming to their understanding of godly behavior. Are you not in danger of doing this yourself? I believe that those of us who approve of LGBT folks and advocate for their fair treatment in society and full inclusion in the life of the church need to be firm but considerate in how we express our views. You can do better.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      RevBill,

      A. There is FAR more going on here than name calling. If after reading the whole post that is all you see then I am sorry that you do not understand what is going on here. I am using a literary device to draw parallels between the behavior of the Phairsees depicted in the Gospels and the religious right in America. Sometimes razor sharp truth needs to be spoken clearly and concisely.

      B. This post is not about winning anyone over to my point of view. This is not a game. This is me speaking truth to power.

      C. For a better understanding of how I read and interpret the bible I invite you to read through many of my posts where I make that exceptionally clear. For more study on the non-literal reading of the bible perhaps look into some Marcus Borg.

      D. A good portion of the NT is attributed to Paul but there is evidence that indicates th sections attended to Paul may have been written and redacted by more than one person.

      E. Though you seem to be an ally your closing remark “you can do better” is condesending and patronizing. Perhaps you did not mean I that way but it kinda reads as the voice of privalge and arrogance.

      • JenellYB

        Fyo, #E… that’s exactly the same ‘voice’ I hear as I read his post.

      • RevBill

        So now your response to my gentle rebuke is to mischaracterize what I wrote. Of course I understand what is going on in your post, but did not choose to comment on everything. Why did you decide that that means I don’t understand?
        B. Are you saying you do not want to persuade anyone to think like you? Why do you choose to belittle my choice of words? Of course this is not a game. I am not playing a game. I am trying to speak the truth as I understand it to you who wield great power with your blog. I want you to maximize your power, not to detract from it.
        C. I have read nearly all of your posts and it is not evident to me what your hermanutic is. It is simplistic to argue simply for a “non-literal” reading of Scripture which has a wide variety of genres which are to be understood in their historical and grammatical context. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but that does not mean I take everything literally.
        D. The fact that some letters attributed to Paul may not have been written by Paul does not detract from my point that Paul never ceased to be a Pharisee when he became a follower of Jesus. The basic beliefs of the sect of the Pharisees became normative Judaism and Christianity is largely derived from the beliefs of the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t argue against the beliefs of the Pharisees, but against their practices.
        E. You do not believe me to be an ally only that I seem to be an ally. If I say that you are an intelligent and passionate follower of Jesus, do you take that as condescending and patronizing? I want your blog to succeed. I want you not only to speak truth to power, but convince those who are in power and are abusing power to repent and accept God’s gracious love to all his children.
        If you are defensive about the mildest of criticism, you limit your chance to grow and become increasingly effective.
        If you want only praise from those who read your blog, I will no longer bother to reply.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

          Here, to begin every more simplistically – I read the bible through the lens of Jesus not Paul. Perhaps you have hit on a critical point here. If much of Christianity is based in the beliefs of the Pharisees (and Paul) then perhaps I believe that the religion that sprung from the teaching, life, death and resurrection of Jesus actually betrays what he was trying to tell us. Jesus did not come to start yet another religion that would turn into a series of oppressive laws. Jesus came to set us free from such human contrivances to be able to live through compassion and grace into the Love that is freely given.

          No, I do not only want praise from those who read my blog but your critique was off the mark and patronizing. If you wish to only comment and not have me respond with my own thoughts and feelings I am not sure what you want here. A “gentle rebuke” still sounds as if you are an authority over me and I should gently bow my head and repent. I believe what I said, I said what I believe. Though I do appreciate your support in wishing my blog to succeed I am sorry that my strident voice is not one that is palatable to you. There are times to be gentle and times to be direct. There are times to be a an open bridge builder and there are times to draw a line in the sand between right and wrong. I am allowed to feel passionately about these things and use as many literary devices at my disposal as present in the very bible we read. I am allowed to call a spade a spade.

          • RevBill

            Of course your are allowed to call a spade a spade, but after you exercise your right the spade is still a spade. I think a more productive strategy is to engage those misguided people who believe same gender sexual attraction and action is a sin. I used to believe that being gay was a sin. What changed me was not someone calling me a Pharisee or fundamentalist or any other pejorative term. My change of heart and mind came from reading Mel White’s account of how he came to terms with his sexual orientation and Jack Roger’s careful historical and biblical analysis. (Mel was a classmate of mine at Fuller Theological Seminary as well as my preaching coach so I know him to be a man of deep integrity and faith.) Your account of your discussion with Billy Humphrey is a model for me. In your report (in your July 13, 2013 post) of that conversation there is no indication that you called him a Pharisee or any other pejorative term. Yet you spoke truth to power in a courageous and persistent manner.
            I attend a mega church where the pastor believes homosexual lovemaking is a sin, yet he displays almost none of the characteristics you described as typifying Pharisees. The exception may be that he advocates baptism by immersion as do nearly all Baptists. Several months ago I met with two men in leadership positions in my church who had asked me to write reviews for materials to be used by small groups in our church. I told them that before I agreed to take on this project I wanted them to know that I disagreed with our pastor about homosexuals. I explained that I did not think that it was a sin to be gay or to act on same sex attraction. I thought that these men might say that they didn’t want me to write reviews since I held beliefs contrary to our pastor. Instead they said that my beliefs might be “heterodox” but were not a deal breaker.
            People who display the characteristics of being a Pharisee which you listed are rather easy for me to dismiss, but I know few such people. The real challenge to me is to engage Christians who are compassionate, intelligent, polite, biblically literate and wrong. For years I have had an ongoing debate with the Reverend Doctor Mark D. Roberts whose blog can be found under Patheos. For a short time I worked under Mark as a parish associate in his church. I know him to be a kind and considerate Christian gentleman whose conduct does not display any of your descriptions of what characterizes a Pharisee. My debate with him has been civil and enlightening at least for me. Although my arguments have not persuaded Mark to change his mind, at least he knows that one evangelical person who has a high regard for Scripture has concluded that homosexuality (and same gender sex) is not a sin. My own thinking has been sharpened by sparing with Mark.
            Your discussion with Billy Humphrey and my ongoing debate with Mark Roberts may be frustrating and may seem futile. But I think that those kinds of difficult discussions are more likely to change minds and hearts than labeling people.

            • sue kilpatrick

              How do you continue to attend a church with views on homosexuality that so oppose your own? Kind of fits with.,”Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I not only love my son and his husband, but do not believe their love is a sin. I made sure my pastor was of like mind. Big deal for a Presbyterian one, in Glendae CA.

            • Bill Wright

              I have read and re-read your response(s) to Kimberly. Seems to me you are a person of faith and caring and we could have some very interesting conversations, maybe over some Deidrich’s coffee…

              I do have a couple of comments though, that need to be made

              First–you dropped more names per square response paragraph than I have seen in a LONG TIME. We get it. You are well-connected. You have done stuff with some really honchos the holy heights. Don’t cut a lot of hog fat with me and it doesn’t get you a pass with critical thinking application; glad you know all them folks, though.

              Second–In context, and given Kimberly’s pedigree (and I bet she know Melody Bass and Crossan and maybe even–never mind) using the phrase “you might be a Pharisee—” is no more a social faux pas than Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if—”. In fact, it was a clever lead-in

              Third–Seems to me you have set yourself up to be in a state of constant tension–as has been pointed out, you attend, and maybe more than attend, a mega-church; which generally (yah, I know, pejorative–and a couple of other things I can think of) brings to mind a bunch of sheep led by a silver-tongued demagogue–the whole concept reminds me of THE GOOD SHEPARD episode on GRIMM in Season 2.. (http://www.nbc.com/grimm/episode-guide/season-2/596362/the-good-shepherd/episode-205/625411/). The tension comes out in your responses to Kimberly…you are not discussing the main point..you are quibbling over whether she properly used the Pharisee as the kicker. Okay, RevBill…I am going to pick the kick point…”You might be a member of a mega-church if you….” Now, let’s get on with the real issue.

              Fourth–Chill dude..Kimberly makes good sense. Either agree or disagree, but for the sake of a well nuanced reponse, stick to the maid damn point.

            • sue kilpatrick

              I’m still interested in your answer?

    • JenellYB

      With all due respect, sir, that approach just isn’t going to work on us anymore. I am 65 years old, have known so much was wrong with this religion, from young childhood, when I met Christ, learned about Jesus, and then watched exactly the opposite being modeled by the churchly adults in my life, and your response above could have been mouthed by any one of the preachers I’ve known all my life. Calling out the Pharisees, the liars, the con artists out for a buck at gullible people’s expense, its time to speak out and just say it like it is.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

        Thank you!

    • Kristine Evenson

      I reread the article again and I saw no name calling. She only spoke the truth.

      • RevBill

        To vilify anyone as a Pharisee is name calling.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

          And Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of Vipers. Goats he called them too.

  • Bob Lawrence

    You might be a pharisee if… you think that being a military chaplain makes you a “government-paid missionary.” http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/2012/06/shocking-video-mrff-reveals-u-s-military-being-used-as-government-paid-missionaries/

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Indeed!


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