A New Phariseeism?


If you are interested in being young, thinking young, and having progressive, up-to-date opinions on all subjects, and if you are particularly interested in establishing “social justice,” beware.

From the blog of Richard Bledsoe:

How odd the world is. Pharisees gave the pretence of caring about the justice and righteousness given witness to in the Torah. But instead, God’s righteousness was subverted by giving priority to the “traditions of the elders,” and the Word of God was buried under a mass of habits, traditions, and precepts inherited from past fathers. In doing so, they actually “became like the nations around them,” because such traditions were the whole fabric of all of the ancient world outside of Israel. The Word of God is startling, surprising, and its reception, application, and result, could never be foreseen or predicted.

Revelation created something unheard of and impossible outside of Revelation. It created a future. There could be no future for ancient pagans, because all of life was a repetition of the traditions of the elders. Such repetition simply meant nothing new could ever happen. But, the Prophets, in particular, gave new promises of new life, of redemption, of renewal of all things in ways never dreamt of, never thought of before. God promised over and over, to “do a new thing.”

Jesus was the future. He was the startling New Man who would renew all things. He therefore opposed the Pharisees adherence to “the traditions of the elders” which buried the Torah under a mass of dead human precepts. He did so over and over, and in every instance of opposing “the traditions of the elders,” he does so by quoting the Hebrew revelation, what we now term The Old Testament.

As the Gospel has taken hold through history, we see a gradual overcoming of the habits of the ancient world. The Reformation was a re-affirmation of the text of Scripture (Old and New Testament) over against a whole lot of new “traditions of the elders” that had come to cling to the church over the centuries. The very heart of Martin Chemnitz’s Examination Of The Council Of Trent (published a generation after Luther) was the greatest of all defenses of Reformation Doctrine by showing that the very structure of Roman Catholic and Trentine theology, was that its structure was a virtual repetition of Rabbinical Theology. The Rabbis had a secret oral tradition that supposedly came down from Sinai, and Trent claimed an oral tradition that came down from the time of the Apostles. In both cases, the secret oral tradition (known only to the highest clergy in both cases) took practical precedent over the written text. But, Jesus who was the future, always forced the priority of the written text over all secret oral traditions. The Reformation forced the same issue. And, it must be said that Rome has been extensively forced back to the written text as it has tried to do war with the children of the French Revolution. The traditions of the elders were substantially what gave fuel to the Revolution in the first place.

Phariseeism has been disappearing. So is the world now, in an untrammelled way, becoming righteous?

I am skeptical. There may be forward movement, but in hardly an untrammelled way. There is a great new set-back. The devil is clever. If you can’t beat them, join them…

If the traditions of the elders have been the way of blocking the new future that will be created by the New Man in concert with His Word, then let us (says the Evil One) do the opposite.

What we care about now, what we will make the new public opinion (say the Principalities and the Powers) is youth and the future. All things (including the Word of God) can now be subordinated to Youth and a Utopian Future. But this utopian future created by the Planners of the Omnipotent State, is a world of perfect stagnation. It is remarkably like the static cyclical world of the traditions of the elders.

It is the novelists who have seen this. The “dystopias,” the brilliant satirizations of the coming leftist utopias, those great novels of Orwell (1984), Huxley (Brave New World) and most insightfully, CS Lewis (That Hideous Strength).

The new Phariseeism is established by lifting up youth and the future. And, the engine that propels it is the very concept of Righteousness and Justice that is derived from the Bible, from Christianity. In this way, a new hypocrisy is ensconsed. The text of the Word of God is effectively subordinated to The Up To Date Opinion, The New York Times editorial page.

If you are interested in being young, thinking young, and having progressive, up-to-date opinions on all subjects, and if you are particularly interested in establishing “social justice,” beware. You might be in the neighborhood of the new Pharisees. You might be party to creating a stagnant, unchanging world of perfect oppression. And it is all in the name of superior righteousness.

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