Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hi. My Names's Fred and I'm a...

...recovering Pharisee. There should be a group named P.A. (Pharisees Anonymous). I would join. Growing up in fundamentalism, I was taught that the only ones who were right were independent fundamental Baptist. I fully believed that. I can remember being judgemental of those that used the RSV as their Bible. After all, they left out some things that were in the King James, which we knew was the only correct interpretation. Those who baptized infants, learned catechisms, venerated saints, or believed in the "social gospel" were somewhat lesser Christians than we were, if they were Christians at all. Even in the midst of my teenage rebellion, I still believed that I had been taught THE TRUTH, and everyone who disagreed with that was wrong. The attitude persisted through Bible college and I graduated fully ready to defend the Faith.

Fast forward twenty or thirty years. Through those years God has been working in me and teaching me that many of the things I had been taught were either not Biblical at all, distinctives of a particular group, or simply cultural. I began to experience real grace for the first time as I learned that the Father loves me no matter what. He is pleased with me and there is nothing I can do to make him any more or any less pleased with me. I desire to follow Jesus out of a heart full of gratitude and love rather than a need to "stay right with God" (I did a lousy job of that).

The problem is that I still struggle with being a Pharisee. I still have a tendency to judge people. The difference is that now I am not judging liberals or any of the ones I used to judge. Now, I tend to be judgemental of other people who are judgemental. I tend to look at fundamentalists, especially independent Baptists with a much too critical eye. I am realizing more and more that this attitude is nothing less than it was when I was younger. It's sin. I am no better than those I criticize for being critical.

I read an interview in which Brain McLaren was asked about those who criticize him and call him heretic, etc. His response was that he believed that those critics loved Jesus and were trying to follow him the best they could, and that he simply disagreed with their methods as well as some of their theology. It was one of the most gracious responses I've ever seen. He did not condemn them, but accepted them as brothers, even though they disagree. That's the kind of response I want to have in my life toward those who are critical. May God grant that to all of us.

My name's Fred and I'm try to leave Phariseeism behind.

6 comments:

Bruce said...

Fred,

As a fellow ex-Independent Baptist Phairsee.........

I think we will struggle with this the rest of our lives. No matter where we end up religiously,(for me a liberal)we will still battle the deep seated need to judge others. It is in our DNA.

For me the biggest point of judgment is towards those who are still Ind. Fundy. Baptists. Nothing like a preacher scorned :) I must constantly watch myself so I do not become that which I condemn.

Bruce

co_heir said...

Bruce,

It is a constant struggle isn't it?

Jeff McQ said...

A friend of mine once wrote a series of parody songs called "Hymns My Mother Never Sang". They wound up traveling all through the Assemblies of God denomination.

One of my favorites from that collection was:

"If John the Baptist Used the King James Bible, Then It's Good Enough For Me."

:)

Good post, bro. Thanks.

co_heir said...

Jeff,

Thanks for the comment. I once saw a bumper sticker that read, "If it ain't King James it ain't Bible." I see that attitude a lot here in the Bible Belt.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey, thanks for coming by and commenting. I can't believe I didn't think of 'Son of Thunder!' Good one. Hope to see you around some more. God bless and happy blogging!

co_heir said...

Matt, thanks for visiting and commenting.

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