Friday, August 14, 2009

What is a Pharisee?

Pharisees, I contend, were one of the most misunderstood sects of Judiasm by Christians throughout history, up to and including today. A conversation with poster "karateka" led to this explanation, which I have made before (more or less) in the very first post of this blog.
In human terms, all true Christians are the successors of all true Pharisees. All true Pharisees were true believers in Judaism. There is no Christ without Judaism.

The term Christian was applied to those persons who inhabited Churches seeded and built up by the Apostle Paul. Those persons were gentile mirrors of the sect of Judaism known as the Pharisees, with the modification that they realized, as all true Pharisees would, that Christ was Messiah.

This hardly makes them perfect. This does not make their vision the only vision of Christ. This does not make them right. This DOES make those who believe as they did the legitimate and first claimants to the name Christian, which was interestingly enough, a derisive epithet flung at them by unbelievers in Antioch.

Sects such as the Essenes are not mentioned in the texts of Scripture on which our historic understandings of Christianity rely.

The Sadducees are in my view, most complicit of all in the murder of our LORD, and they no longer exist.

The documentary evidence says, that whether it was a large number of them or not, it was the Pharisees, as a sect, who contributed the largest number of converts to Early Messianic belief. In all likelihood more that called themselves Pharisees did not convert, but only they are mentioned in the earliest annals of Christianity.

"Certain" Pharisees once "saved" the life of Christ.

Proverbs 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

Hebrews 12:6: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

Christ devotes most of his negative attention to the Pharisees, as opposed to the Sadducees. It is not proof of love that you are punished, but it is proof of hatred, that you are not.

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1 comment:

karateka said...

It is an interesting conjecture. According to the most recent wikipedia on Pharisees, they are pretty much the forerunners of the modern Jews. It may be that there was a heavy Pharisee influence.

Still, would you consider George Washington a Christian? It seems his religious beliefs only extended to a divine providence. Sounds a little different than the beliefs of the Pharisees, ancient or modern.

Also, what of the case of Isaac Newton who held "heretical" ideas about the Godhead that contradicted the Nicene Creed? Despite his strong religious beliefs, it seems he would not be a Christian.

Finally, what of the modern scientist, or scientifically-minded person who is "saved," and is regular in attendance and devotion? A person who reconciles God with, for example, wave-particle duality, is very likely to have a very different belief in God than a Pharisee.

It seems to me that the conception of a Christian by the "Pharisee" definition is overly narrow. It would eliminate a wide variety of people and groups that in the last 2000 years have suffered greatly for their "Christianity."

Similarly, how about any modern Christian