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Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Reading Accidental Pharisees - Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity , and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne was an adventure. His style of writing is very conversational, which makes it very easy to read. His stories draw the reader in, and the book was very infuriating and convicting. I really enjoyed it. Reading the book was and adventure. I found myself, at many points, saying to myself, "yes, yes, yes - hey, wait a minute!" And I think that's the point. I found myself in many sections in the book, places where I didn't expect to find myself establishing extra-biblical rules and regulations in the name of holiness. Osborne does a great job of defining how personal sanctification can lead to unbiblical identification of sin. For example, I may establish specific rules for myself, as I feel this is what God is asking me to do for my own walk toward sanctification. When I apply those rules as universal, however, I'm out of bounds. One issue I had with the book was Osborne's use of "a friend of mine." He does share some first-hand stories, but the frequent use of others' stories left me with the impression the author saw himself as above some of the critique he made. I repented, and I think he would identify himself in the pages of the book, as well. Overall, I would endorse this book. I feel, however, it's more appropriate for a more mature Christian, someone who's walked in the faith for a time, as I think the book could do more damage to a younger believer and could even confuse them in their faith. I received this book for free through Cross-Focused Reviews (a service of Cross Focused Media, LLC) for this review.
Books on the Pharisees make many people nervous or defensive. No one wants to be labeled a Pharisee, and we’re all sure that whatever they were, they weren’t us. Larry Osborne approaches this from a more gracious angle, he describes people as “accidental Pharisees” in his new book Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith. If you’re already suspicious of that title, let me encourage you to give it some thought. With everything in the Gospels about the Pharisees, perhaps God really does want us to take some time and study their unique problems and learn how not to be like them. Osborne’s writing style is light yet direct, he communicates with analogies from modern day life and personal anecdotes and has a mastery of humor. Yet his message is serious and at times, he spares no punches. His book attacks pride, exclusivity and the tribalism which characterizes so much of contemporary Christianity, whether we realize it or not. He shows the dark side of movement-based Christian movements such as “Spirit-led, missional, incarnational, gospel-Centered, or some other current Christian buzzword.” As Osborne puts it, “You’ll find it hard not to look down on those who don’t even know there’s a buzzword to conform to” (pg. 48). Fundamentalist Christianity such as I hail from, will be eager to write off Osborne’s critique as extreme, unloving, or errant. I wish that conscientious fundamentalists would put down their defense, however, and give Osborne an ear. It never hurts to subject oneself to scrutiny. They might just find that his critique is restorative, and his objections spur them on toward a closer conformity to Scripture and a more holistic approach to spirituality that recognizes the need to encourage the weak and guards against the all-too-natural pull toward pride and exclusivity. Osborne speaks of idolizing the past, spiritual gift projection, drive-by guiltings and more. He also speaks of the importance of bearing one another’s burdens and fighting for real unity in the church. Frankly, at times, Osborne hits too close to home, for comfort! After hearing Osborne and his passion, let me insist that there is more to the book than harsh criticism of the harsh legalism that abounds in today’s Christianity. Osborne lovingly helps those who see these tendencies in themselves, and he frankly admits that many of these traits were first discovered in his own heart. Ultimately this book offers hope and inoculates believers from a Christianity that is more about scoring points for the home team, then about pointing people to Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll pick up this book and add it to your “must-read” pile for 2013. Or after reading it yourself, you may consider giving it to a friend who might appreciate this encouragement too. Disclaimer: This book was provided by Zondervan. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Having seen much of, on the one hand, division/hatred (I actually don’t think hatred is too harsh of a word for some of what I’ve seen) and, on the other hand, blindness to sin in the church, I was interested to see what kind of balance Larry Osborne would strike in defining a Pharisee. More importantly, how would he define a balanced Christian? Several of the issues he described as elements of a Pharisee (or of becoming one) are the following: 1. A lack of mercy 2. Viewing obedience as something that merits praise (i.e., we are really only doing our duty in obeying) 3. Comparing among ourselves (judging who is “most spiritual”) 4. Focusing on trivial issues (that are hotly debated topics precisely because they are not all that clear in Scripture) 5. A higher view of those who hang out only with those who are “most spiritual” 6. Idolizing the past 7. Idolizing a human being (e.g., Bible teacher, pastor) Several others were included as well, such as arrogance and pride, of course—a given. All of these issues are clearly discussed and warned against in Scripture, which should lead us to the conclusion that we really have no excuse for being Pharisees. So why do we so easily fall into that trap? Because, as Osborne noted, the problem is that we often miss our own problematic behaviors in our focus on the issues at hand. It bears mentioning that in the day when the term was coined, being a “Pharisee” was considered a good thing, just as the concept (though not the word itself) still is today. I took one star away because I felt that he went overboard in his attempt to show that missionaries and others in the Lord’s service are not necessarily any more committed than anyone else is (p. 175). His comment was that if a person hasn’t been specifically gifted to go to the mission field and goes anyway, that person is out of the will of God. I believe that comment is extreme and erroneous based on the fact that GOD did not qualify His command to “go into the all the world and teach about Jesus” with the ending Osborne adds: “…but only if you have a specific gift, because IF YOU DON’T HAVE THAT GIFT, YOU’RE OUT OF MY WILL.” I feel that he was misinterpreting the concept of “service and gifts”; I do not see anything in Scripture indicating that overseas service entails having a certain gift; all of the same gifts can be used in any location. I really liked his discussion of how Jesus chose both Simon (a zealot) and Matthew (a tax collector) to be on his small team of disciples…and to get along. We, too, are diverse in personality and background and should pursue Christian unity and love. Finally, I enjoyed several discussions, spread throughout the book, of how Jesus spent time with those “known” to be sinners—loving them, never viewing them as somehow not quite as worthy of His attention as those who diligently studied the Bible. I’ve always loved the story of Jesus hollering up to Zacchaeus, “Come down! I’m coming to your house for lunch!” And I’ve wondered how many of us, as “Christians”—a term stemming from the word Christ, or followers of Christ—would do the same. Or would we whisper, “Look at that THIEF up there…I wonder why he is spying on us”? As Osborne noted, as Christians, it seems we have much to learn about the One we are supposed to be following…so it behooves us to get into the Word and find out how to do a better job of that.