[The following rant was precipitated by someone who announced “Where we differ is that you have more of a legalistic approach to the Christian faith and I have a more liberating view of it. I say it is easier to convert a nonbeliver through love and kindness rather than beating them on the head with a legalistic Bible.” You know, it’s one thing to disagree with me. It’s another thing to criticize me if you and I know each other a bit, even online. But this is in another category altogether.]
I know that it is fun to criticize anyone more conservative than you and denounce them as a legalistic self-righteous Pharisee. After all, the Pharisees _were_ conservatives, so all conservatives are fundamentalist Pharisees, right?
May I suggest that it was the judgmental, self-righteous attitude that Christ had more of an issue with, not the theological and practical aspects of the faith?
In my experience, the people with the most judgmental, self-righteous, Pharisaical attitude are those who are so eager to tell others that they are being judgmental self-righteous Pharisees.
Is smugly looking down your nose, feeling all self-righteous and holier than thou, and denouncing someone as a Pharisee _any_ less wrong than smugly looking down your nose, feeling all self-righteous and holier than thou, and denouncing someone as a “sinner”?
* Isn’t it Pharisaical to call someone legalistic (as opposed to your wonderful loving and liberating attitude) if they quote a Puritan and some Psalms?
* Isn’t it Pharisaical to announce that others have no heart for the lost if they disagree with your take on evangelism?
* Isn’t it Pharisaical to ascribe motives to someone you don’t know or come to snap judgments about them?
* Is it so different if I say “The difference is, I am holy and you are licentious and wicked” and “The difference is, I am liberating and loving and you are judgmental and legalistic and condemning”?
It’s the _same_ attitude the Pharisees had. The only difference is that today, we’re using a different set of laws and traditions of men. But it’s the same smug, condemning, judgmental attitude.
Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees for their _positions_. He once praised them for their meticulous attention to the law, and held them up as examples of outward righteousness (Mt 5:20). He condemned them for their _attitude_. And I think it’s the same attitude that a lot of allegedly loving and liberating grace filled liberty oriented Christians have. It’s just like how liberals are all about free speech, unless you are conservative, and then they do their best to shut you up. In fact, that’s the best parallel I can think of.
Here’s a thought for you:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Galatians 5:15)