Sunday, January 5, 2014

Accidental Pharisees, Beginning of a Seven Part Reflection

In 2012 Larry Osborne published Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith. The chapters in this book are divided into seven parts with discussion questions at the end of the seven parts. If you care to, order the book and reflect with me on the discussion questions. Part one is subtitled "The Dark and Dangerous Side of Overzealous Faith."

This morning Teddy Dee, beloved young man in his 20s who influences so many,  posted on Facebook:
It takes a lot of ignorance, pride, and idolatry of self to charge fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with sin, for disobeying your personal convictions. You are not God.
"3Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him." (Romans 14)

I have been accosted by an atheist neighbor with, "Carol, you are such a hypocrite" because of a stand I took here in the neighborhood. Time for reflection with this book. Our church meets in the afternoons on Sundays and I hope to post seven Sunday mornings about this book and maybe some other references to this topic.

Osborne talks about JERKS FOR JESUS who don't know that God never asked him to be a pit bull for right doctrine. Yes, you can be true to Scripture, but not true to ALL of Scripture and while contending for the faith (Jude 3) you are quarrelsome contrary to 2 Timothy 2:24-25. The author nails it when he writes in chapter one, being right will become more important than being kind, gracious, or loving (p. 21).

Here are the first set of questions from pp. 39-40 in red. My answers are in black.

1. When it comes to the dark and dangerous side of overzealous faith, "The problem is not spiritual zeal. . . . The problems is unaligned spiritual passion, a zeal for the Lord that fails to line up with the totality of Scripture."
a. Can you think of a time in your life when you were especially zealous for something only to discover later that your zeal didn't line up with the facts? Yes, when I needed to get my ego need met through my church activities.
b. Can you think of a time in your life when you were especially zealous for something in the spiritual realm only to discover that your zeal didn't line up with Scripture? Many years ago I was influenced by dispensationalism. If so, what happened? My uncle sent me a book when I lived in Dallas, Texas, that made me want to search more. What changed your mind? Reading that book and entering a Reformed church in 2000. Suddenly a whole lot of growth was foisted upon me with questions to wrestle and theology to deal with. What changes did you make as a result? This blog has been an attempt to look at Amil and Postmil eschatology. Yet, I am not done repenting and discovering.
2. The Pharisees of Jesus' day were champions of self-discipline, personal sacrifice, and rigid morality. Imagine you were alive back then. How do you think you would have responded to their spiritual passion? Would you have been inclined to look up to them, be intimidated by them, be repelled by them, or perhaps have some other response? Be repelled by them because if I had an encounter with Jesus Christ and realized His grace I would have been attracted to Him hopefully and recognized His sufficiency.  Why or why not?
3. What, if anything, did you find to be most surprising in Joseph of Arimathea's story (the "secret disciple" nobody wants to be? Joseph was there for Jesus when his disciples were gone.
a. If you were one of the apostles, how did you think you would have viewed Joseph before he boldly stepped forward to claim Jesus' body? Maybe I would had judged him as useless.
b. Does his story change anything about the way you look at other Christians? I need to widen my fellowship. How might it change the way you look at yourself? I have always thought of myself as a learner here on this blog--never a thus says the LORD or a let me check the confessions or creeds disciple. I need to be that growing and glowing disciple, encouraging to others. What does it say to you about the kind of people God uses in his kingdom? He decides whom He uses.
4. If you had to pick just on insight or principle from part 1 to put into practice, what would it be and why? Jesus does not thin out the herd into just His brand of Christians. He is patient with all. Osborne writes at the end of this part: The bruised reed he will not break. The smoldering wick he will not snuff out. To the weary and heavily burdened he offers rest, a light load, and an easy yoke. (p. 27)

Lord, make me Your kind of disciple,
and not an accidental Pharisee. 


  1. Larry Osborne's office has acknowledged permission to blog these questions.

  2. This sounds like an interesting book; could be good for a small group! I look forward to reading your answers/reflections about it. I think I would be stretching myself a bit too thin if I took on doing this study since our small group is doing Live a Praying Life by Jennifer Kennedy Dean (wonderful study) and I'm doing the prep work for that plus planning curriculum for 3/4 year olds at church.

    I have to say I am guilty of being overzealous at times; I've toned down over the years, especially in the blogging world on how I would respond in comments to what people wrote on their blogs. I got kicked off someone's blog and not able to leave comments because of my overzealousness.

    I have always wondered if I lived when Jesus walked the earth what I would have done. Would I have been on the side of the Pharisees or a disciple? It makes you wonder with Joseph if he had wanted to take a stand more along the way of Jesus' ministry and be bold but was afraid to, maybe it "ate" at him that he didn't and finally at what he thought was the end, he decided to be bold.

    Again, interesting study and looking forward to reading more from you.


    1. Thanks for your great comments, Betty. I will be posting each Sunday morning, LORD willing. This book is so good for my growth, and hopefully more people will going the discussion.


    2. Oh my! It was supposed to read "more people with JOIN the discussion"! It is great that you can be in a Bible study, Betty. I wish I could and so I am blogging instead. Will enjoy your following blog posts each Sunday morning if you can. One is coming tomorrow.

  3. I homeschooled my children for over 10 years. I sat under a lot of 'extra biblical teaching' and adopted many of those 'convictions' because I didn't know how to come to a biblical conclusion in my study time. I just accepted what was being taught as if it were biblical truth... and much of it was not. Not that I have it down pat. I'm continually learning. But many of the 'convictions' I held to some 20 years ago have been dropped as I learned they were a preference and not a command. I look forward to reading about what you learn in this study!

    1. Thanks, Georgene. It is so worth it to bounce growth ideas with you. Iron sharpens iron.


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