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Terry Jones is more than the Pastor of a small church in Gainesville, Florida.  He is the man who can calmly look into the camera and explain why he intends to publicly burn a copy of the Koran in what he says is “… Not a message of hate. Our message is a message of warning to the radical element of Islam”.  The constant attention of this incident and his bizarre inability to understand his own actions has made Jones into much more than just a Pastor.  He has become a media darling, the center of attention – and it has given him the ignoble status of Pharisee.

The teachings of Jesus are very clear on many things.  He never said that his way was easy, either.  What he did tell us is that those who are truly his followers would obey a higher calling than the petty selfishness that has caused so much suffering on earth.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:44-48 (NRV)

Naturally, Jesus met with violent opposition to his teachings, most notably from the ruling religious class known as the Pharisees.   These were a group whose status in the Temple was determined, in large part, by how much fervor they had when enforcing the word of God.  Their political status was dependent on public displays of piety that defined an increasingly narrow religion.

Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”

Matthew 15:12-14 (NRV)

The Pharisees not only took offense at these words – they ultimately had Jesus executed in the most painful way possible for daring to oppose them.  They did this because Jesus placed himself between their loud public displays of piety and what these hypocrites pretended to represent.

Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:5-6 (NRV)

Today we have many Pharisees who use the word of God for their own political gain.  They have taken the plain and direct teachings of Jesus and twisted them into a message of hate.  They do this in the name of Jesus, but it is clear that they are advancing only their own careers.  Most will openly call for the powers of the state and church to be combined so that their status can be further increased, ignoring the separation that Jesus himself defined so clearly.

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

22:17-21 (NRV)

Christians around the world rightly lament the decline in faith that has become an epidemic in the western world.  But the root cause of this is not faithlessness itself – it is the simple and obvious fact that Christianity itself has been taken over by Pharisees.

The Pharisees are the ones who executed Jesus once, and their class is working to kill him yet again.  They do this for their own political gain and  little more.  Their own hypocrisy defines them as clearly as it did the Pharisees of 2000 years ago.

Who will stand up to today’s Pharisees and risk being nailed to the cross as Jesus was?

14 thoughts on “Pharisees

  1. Erik, it has been a long time since you said anything like this. Thank you, it needed to be said. I hope that people are willing to listen to this message. There is too much hate in the world and it has taken over everything. That includes christianity too.

  2. I liked the readings today and the commentary. I do not know but I think there were very large rooms for the pharisees (as they were essentially state sponsored) but I also think there were medium sized rooms for small groups. And we were to give to the state essentially nothing, and to God everything which is a whole lot easier said than done. Yhats my takeaway from the Didache.
    By the way did you go to the Science Museum’s traveling exhibit there are at least 4 very very interesting things in it and probably a lot more. Also in the future if you can please comment on Obama’s labor day speech.

  3. A well done call for action.
    If the true “Christains” can not take back their faith soon, then I can see them becoming as “radical” as the terrorists this pastor is trying to condemn.
    He seems to have forgotten one of the basics: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

  4. Thanks, everyone. I’ve been thinking of this for months now. The latest incident simply put me over the top.

    I’m not the best Christian in the world, I admit. But I do take the teachings of Jesus very seriously. It has become obvious to me that the mis-representation of what he taught us has completely overshadowed the message of genuine peace and grace, which is to say that if we don’t act soon we’re in danger of losing the truth. I can’t sit back and let that happen any longer.

    I hope you all feel the same and gain the strength to start calling out this terrible distortion for what it is. The Pharisees cannot win this one.

    Thank you.

  5. OMG, I was away from the news for a day and was shocked at the moronic proposal of this obviously disturbed man, who happens to have a congregation and now all kinds of media attention. Nice way to call him out by using the teachings of his supposed religion.

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