Sunday, July 02, 2006

The New Pharisees

This is a comforting passage.

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

As our nation's culture continues to sprint headlong toward a rabid intolerance of Christianity and anything related to the faith, it's good to know that Jesus prepared us for it.

Unfortunately, many in the church share in the hatred and ostracism as they insult and spurn those who disagree with their particular doctrinal persuasion. It doesn't take much searching through "Christian" blogs to find extreme hatred toward any hint of doctrine that doesn't support Calvinism or an Augustinian form of antinomianism. We definitely have a new breed of Pharisee patroling the church, ready to verbally assassinate anyone they view to be a heretic.

I frequently experience similar disdain from those who oppose my views on holiness, but it's good to know that Jesus knew the opposition was coming. That's a comforting thought, though the leaping for joy is difficult when I realize how much people are missing when they reject the awesome, abundant life that holy living provides.


yes2truth said...


As I read the terms Calvinism, Augustinian and antinomianism, as a Born Again follower of Jesus Christ, what am I supposed to learn from the above terms for they mean nothing to me. Do they mean anything to you? Perhaps you could explain in more detail what is significant about them.

If you were to say to me what The Scriptures say i.e. that we are to be likeminded I could understand it, but not the above man made expressions. I say man made because they are not Biblical terms.


Clefspeare said...


Yes, the terms mean something to me. I would not have used them otherwise. You're right that they are not biblical terms, but we all use terms that aren't in the Bible. Calvinism was invented after the Bible came to be, so obviously the Bible never addressed it, but it is still a well-known system of theology, so it is a reasonable term to use in expressing thoughts.

I'm sure if you used a search engine, you would be able to find hundreds of web sites that explain these terms, so I invite you to do that. The purpose of my blog is to post my thoughts, and I realize that not everyone is going to understand everything I write.

yes2truth said...


I have a Bible, a condordance, Greek and Hebrew originals and the indwelling of Holy Spirit. Why would I need to do a web search on the men and topic you have mentioned?

1 John 2:27 "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."

1 Cor 3:21 "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your's; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's; 23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."

The word 'Bible' is not in Holy Scriptures either, but that word is harmless, whereas the other words represent the views and doctrines of men and can cause a believer serious Spiritual sickness, if believed.


Clefspeare said...


Why do the web search of the terms? So that you will know what they mean. Just because Calvinism isn't in the Bible doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of it. Millions of people believe the tenets of Calvinism, so, if you disagree with it, it's helpful to understand it.

yes2truth said...


May I respectfully ask why you are just supporting your position and ignoring the Scriptures I quoted you which destroys that position?

For a house built on sand read Calvinism, Augustianism and any other ism you care to mention.


Clefspeare said...

I don't get your point. I have not ignored the Scriptures you quoted, because they don't destroy my "position" or even do damage to it.

Perhaps you completely misunderstood me. I don't believe in the tenets of Calvinism or Augustianism. I don't glory in men, and I do rely on the Holy Spirit for teaching. The Scriptures you quoted support what I believe, so I didn't comment on them.

These "isms," however, do exist, and many people believe them. That is an undeniable fact. We would be wise to recognize their existence, even if we disagree with them.

yes2truth said...

Point taken but as I don't recognise them as an authority, then I see no point in studying what they say. If someone quotes them at any time, I will study Scripture to see if it is so, just like the Bereans.


Clefspeare said...

I think understanding false systems gives us an advantage, even if we don't recognize their authority.

Paul used his knowledge of paganism to great advantage when he visited Mars Hill. I'm sure he didn't agree with their philosophy, but, since he studied their ways beforehand, he was able to communicate with them powerfully.

In Titus chapter one, Paul quotes one of the pagans and uses the quote to make a valuable point, even though he doesn't recognize that "prophet" as an authority. His knowledge helped him spread the gospel.

When I speak to Calvinists, I am prepared to communicate with them in a way they can understand, because I am acquainted with their system. I know beforehand what philosophies I'm going to hear, so I am prepared to counter them with the word of God.

Still, your warning against "isms" is well taken. I agree that we should be careful not to be taken captive by those who wish to tickle ears, and we should rely on the One God provided to help us know the truth, the Holy Spirit.

yes2truth said...

Again, you have a good point, for it is true that Paul was all things to all men, a good characteristic to have if we want to teach. Perhaps I will have a look at Calvinism after all.

Good to make your aquaintance.


sally apokedak said...

Bryan, I hope I have not come across as disdainful. I am a Calvinist, for ease in labeling, though I think that man was sinful, too, and I hate to be labeled with a man's name.

I obviously don't believe in Christian perfection(or Christian Perfectionism, which is it's own brand of systematic theology--we all like to paint the other guy with the brush we pretend not to use) but I hope you don't think I feel disdain for you. Wesley wrote a hymn that is one of my favorites--"and can it be that I should gain." I don't agree with his theology but I have no disdain toward the man at all.

I am not antinomian, either. That is a pretty hefty charge to lay at the door of Calvinists. Calvinists do not say the law is not to be obeyed. You misunderstand their position if you believe that. We believe we are to obey the law and that is why we repent and beg God's forgiveness when we break it. We believe that our breaking of the law costs our Savior dearly.

I don't really feel a need to convince you of this, but just want you to know that when you speak your views I don't feel you are treating me with disdain. I feel you are trying to serve God bravely. I trust you are offering me the benefit of the doubt and that you understand I have no disdain for you, either. I pray for you often and have for a long time. I appreciate the time you have taken to help me with my writing. I hope my theology does not make you think I don't love you and wish for you success in every area of your life.

Sally, the Calvinist who loves the Lord, loves his law, sees it as more to be desired than gold and sweeter than honey, and who feels no disdain toward you or Wesley.

Clefspeare said...


I don't disdain you at all. I think you're a friendly, passionate person. I went to a Calvinist seminary and took two semesters of systematic theology under R. C. Sproul, so I know many, many Calvinists. We had many lively discussions, yet parted as friends.

I simply think the doctrine is wrong, but I don't lack love for the adherents.

I didn't mean to imply that all Calvinists are antinomian, but I do know that some are. Searching blogs will bear that fact out. What I wrote doesn't say anything but that you will find some of these.

So, Sally, I count you as one of my Calvinist friends. I don't agree with your doctrine, but I appreciate your passion for truth, your desire to serve, and your dedication to your family. These are worthy of great honor.

Becky said...


Sorry I'm slow in answering this--been a little busy! ;-)

Regarding the discussion about whether or not Christians sin, James told the Christians dispersed abroad to "confess your sins to one another."

The whole of chapter 4 he addressed to these Christians and says things like "Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law..." And " as it is, you boast in your arrogance, all such boasting is evil."

These are strong statements pointing to sin in believers's lives.

The passage about Peter in Galatians is quite debatable, but even if Peter did sin, how does that make it impossible for me to be pure?

I'm not sure what debate you refer to, Bryan. Paul told Peter he was wrong to treat the Gentile believers the way he did when the Jews showed up. That Peter was a Christian isn't debatable. That Paul said he "stood condemned" for his hypocrisy ("And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy ...") isn't debatable. What does that have to do with you? If there is one Christian who is not perfect, then clearly the idea that becoming a Christian makes a person perfect here and now is not so. Unless, of course, there is something a person has to do to accomplish this perfection. But that's exactly what Paul was teaching against in Galatians.

I read this from Charles Spurgeon this morning: "The nearer a man lives to God the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart." It's the same as holding up a white sheet that's been washed twenty times. It might look quite clean until you put it beside a new one.

As soon as I measure my life by Christ's, I see how short I fall. Take humility for example. Philippians says Christ "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

So if I am to exhibit humility perfectly as Christ did, I have to be willing to empty myself and take the form of a bondservant. I need to set aside my own desires--maybe invite a homeless person to share my apartment. But I don't, I wouldn't--because I value my own safety, my own need for privacy, my own concern about theft and disease and paying the bills. In short, I think more about filling myself than I think about emptying myself. I think more about how I can get my needs met than I think about becoming a bondservant.

I could give bunches of illustrations like that. My love pales next to God's. My kindness looks self-centered when measured by His kindness. My joy is conditional whereas His extended to His thoughts of me when He was hanging on the cross (who for the joy set before Him endured the cross).

But here's the thing, Bryan. I believe every one of those verses you quote. I know they are true. I know that as true as the fact that I will have a resurrected body one day, I will one day be like Christ because I will see Him as He is.

And right now? God is not limited by time as I am. I don't believe He sees me any differently today than He will the day I die and come into His presence. He sees me as clean because I am washed by the blood of His precious Son.

My debts have been removed from the ledger and Christ's payment has been recorded on my account.

It's His substitutionary work in my life. I am identified with his death and resurrection, though I have not died nor risen again. But because He has, I have been crucified with Him, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ in me.

Praise God!


Clefspeare said...


Again, this isn't a good place to debate, but I will say that James wasn't written only to believers. He calls on his readers to to be saved (James 1:21). He warns them that faith without works won't save them (James 2:14). So, James' condemnation of the sinners in chapter four isn't directed to Christians.

And, yes, whether or not Peter sinned in Galatians two is debatable, but I'm not going to get into it here. I was allowing for the hypothetical possibility in order to ask how that would relate to your claim that we cannot be holy.

The Spurgeon teaching isn't helpful. I think he's clearly wrong. The Bible says that Christ cleanses us from all sin. We don't have evil hearts.

Stories of your own sin also aren't persuasive because your experience isn't authoritative. I am not in a position to judge what your experience means regarding your life and spiritual condition. That's between you and God.

Also, I can't see how anyone can say that Christ "lives in me" and still claim to be a sinner. That seems insulting to Christ. It's saying that Christ is also a sinner.

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BeckyJoie said...

As to your original post on phariseeism: I agree. I see no wrongdoing in honest, open discussion of doctrinal differences but it makes me sick to see bashing and separation over non-essentials. I do believe that we are to live holy lives and that we are made able to do so through the power of the Holy Spirit when we are regenerated and our spirits are quiickened in Christ. I believe that also we are made holy through imputed righteousness through faith(not a dead faith but one acted apon by obedience.) I believe the full verse not just part which says that if we walk not after the flesh but after the spirit, there is no condmenation to those in Christ. There is no room for Christians picking and choosing verses or parts of verses out of context and making doctrines and denominational statements. I understand why people feel they must use terms such as Calvinist or Arminian to describe their belief systems. It's a quick way to associate yourself with others who believe similarly. However, I have not found that these terms always accurately or clearly describe doctrines believed or stated by all those who want to follow the Bible. For instance, I don't believe the TULIP points like others do. My interpretation of those points is different then some Calvinists and similar to others. I struggle with the term "Calvinist" for that reason. But then Arminian does not totally describe me either. I believe in the sovereignty of God but not how some Calvinists put it. I believe in the free will of man but now how some Arminians put it. I believe that it is important to know both the Scripture on these subjects and the theologies of many sects and denominations. And I agree that either side of the Calvinist/Arminian pendulum in addition to any denomination which bashes those unlike themselves are capable of coming off as Pharisaical and proud. I think we need to pursue the truth while maintaining a loving, Christ-like attitude of humilty. By humility, I do not mean false humility either. ie. "Woe is me for I am a lowly worm."

sally apokedak said...

Thanks, Bryan. I am happy to be counted a friend--Calvinist or otherwise. =0)

Hope you had a good time at cba.

Clefspeare said...


Thank you for the thoughtful post. You're right. Labels can be both useful and vague. We have to be careful how we apply them.