[ 2 minutes to read ]
Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading this book is uncomfortable. No one will get through it unaffected. Like me, you will have been guilty of some of the things he addresses and will have been a victim of the others. You read the title and subtitle and you immediately think of someone, or many someones, who need this book. But when you start reading it, you start feeling the cuts to your own heart.
Osborne is right. No one thinks they are a Pharisee, or even close, and many of us end up there accidentally. I have personally found that people think a legalist is everyone who is stricter than them and a liberal is everyone who is looser. Put that way, you see the problem right away. That thinking makes me the standard by which others stand or fall. I’m not the standard and you’re not either. The Scripture is the standard. Jesus is the standard. Osborne addresses this as well as many other crucial topics.
The author rightly points out that some tend toward one thing and the verses that support that bent, while others tend toward another thing and the verses that support their bent. This gets to the heart of his argument. The Bible has both sets of verses and they all must be interpreted together in a way that leaves them all being true. For instance, God’s wrath, justice, and judgment are true and essential attributes. The Bible has plenty of verses about them. However, God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness are just as true and just as essential. The Bible also has plenty of verses about those. When we emphasize one or more to the detriment of the others, we have actually distorted the truth and can end up with heresy if we are not careful.
Every Christian should read this book, but especially leaders from pastors to parents. We don’t want to be Pharisees and we don’t want to train up Pharisees either. Professing to be a Christian means that your identity, your existence, is founded on God’s grace. It is shocking when profound-grace receivers are so graceless in their judgments and dealings with others. Think about the difference between Simon and the prostitute in Luke 7. Who do you think extended more grace to their neighbors?