What is a Pharisee [Excerpts]
Let’s face it, no Christian wants to be accused of being a Pharisee, because the Pharisees are portrayed in the New Testament as being pretty loathsome characters. The accusation of being a Pharisee is made even more incendiary when it is combined with rhetoric about the Pharisees being the ones who killed Christ.
This is perfectly illustrated by a statement made by Mike Bickle, a key leader in the massively influential “evangelical” organization International House of Prayer (IHOP). He said in an audio message titled Contending for the Power of God (CD1):
“It was the ones pressing into biblical orthodoxy that murdered Christ.”
Were the Pharisees really too biblically orthodox? Was their sin really to hold the Scriptures in too high of esteem? Was it the Pharisees who killed Jesus?
Rather than take Mike Bickle’s word for it, perhaps we should test his claim against what Scripture actually tells us about the Pharisees. For example, a careful look at Matthew:15:1-9 and John:5:45-47 clearly shows that the Pharisees problem was not that they held the Scriptures in too high esteem, thereby rendering them lifeless; their problem was that they knew the Scriptures, but were willing to cancel them out in favour of their own doctrine. So who exactly is being a Pharisee then?
The Bible speaks a lot about knowledge and how having knowledge can save, but having a lack of knowledge can leave people open to destruction. For example: “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge” (Isaiah:5:13).
In spite of the importance God places on knowledge in His Word, there is a definite weaning of evangelicals away from knowledge of, an understanding of and a dependence upon the Word of God; a dumbing down of the flock that produces biblically illiterate Christians that have little or no defence against “ravenous wolves” that come forth…and claiming to be “evangelical,” but in reality are not; “ravenous wolves” who make claims of new revelation through the rhema of God that the flock should recognize as being counterfeit, but do not because they do not know the genuine article (the logos) well enough to spot a fake….The flock has no means of reliably testing what these false teachers claim, because the sheep no longer recognize the shepherd’s voice. As such, the sheep rely on their own understanding and desires to discern what is and is not true.
(Jamie Smith, “Shibboleth,” December 2012, updated May 2013).