Playing the Pharisee Card

Recently the Rev. Mark H. Creech penned this over at Christian Post:

One of the most chilling realities of the contemporary age in the United States …

Most people have heard the expression, “playing the race card.” The concept has been bandied about in the media for several years. It typically refers to someone falsely alleging another person is racist in order to gain some political advantage or to draw their credibility into question.

There is a similar practice in Christian circles that has also been widely used for many years, although it’s not been named, at least I don’t think, until more recently. But it’s called “playing the Pharisee card.” The origin of this expression is difficult to trace, but it typically refers to some Christian accusing another of being Pharisaical. Just like playing the “race card,” it’s used to gain an argumentative advantage over another and to discredit, without carefully considering a fellow believer’s contentions.

Christians who are the victims of the dreaded “Pharisee card” are all too often those who have the moral courage to defend doctrinal purity in the church. They stand for righteousness and holy living. They faithfully present to men, whether in the church or in the culture, a message based on a certain, “Thus said the Lord.” Yet they are unjustly portrayed as too narrow-minded, too rigid, unloving, intolerant, and without compassion.

Clergy from the left are quite adept at hurling accusations of being a Pharisee at preachers on the right. And is it any wonder since their view of Jesus himself seems so skewed by the political correctness of the day? They see Jesus as someone who would always speak of peace and love without being divisive. Yet Jesus said his way would divide even family members (Matthew 10:37). They always speak of Jesus as tolerant and inclusive. Still, Jesus said there was only one way to God and that was through Him (John 14:76). They rarely, if ever, open their mouths against sin and proclaim judgment, nevertheless, no one more than Jesus lifted higher by word or example the need for genuine holy living. And Jesus spoke more about hell then he did about heaven.

Deutsch: Christus im Hause des Pharisäers, Jac...

So, for what reason did Jesus really fault the Pharisees? He faulted them for their twisting of the absolute truth of God’s Word. He complained against them for the way they made the clear teachings of Scripture null and void to accommodate the opinions and traditions of men. He charged them with laying burdens on others that they were unwilling to carry themselves, leveling at them the charge of “hypocrites (Matthew 23:1-4,13).”

Therefore, quite frankly, the label Pharisee appears more appropriate for liberal clergy. It is the liberal theologians, the progressive churches, who have twisted the truth of God to pander to the culture, affirming a woman’s so-called right to choose to destroy an innocent and helpless human life, affirming homosexuality, and advocating socialistic economic policies. Their idea of helping the poor and the needy has more to do with coveting what’s in their neighbor’s pocket and forcing him to give it to the government for public assistance than rolling up their own sleeves and sacrificing.

And who is more unloving and intolerant in their ways than the left? They claim they want equality for everyone, but work to silence, shame, and permanently shut-down the voices on the right. Did someone say, “Hypocrites?” Better still, did someone say “Pharisees?!”

No wonder, unfortunately, so many pastors who know the differences between right and wrong are still cravenly silent. They are mortified that this unjust accusation – this illegitimate use of the label, “Pharisee,” might be employed to describe them. They fear even the perception that others could see their ministries as uncaring, bigoted, hateful, critical and small-minded. But they fail to recognize that no person is more caring, more loving, and of larger character than the individual willing to risk and even suffer the wrath of another to lovingly tell them the unwanted, but unavoidable and necessary truth.

In contrast, the critic who uses “the Pharisee card” sits quite comfortably basking in the glow of the acceptance, popularity and praises of men, while the world around him goes to hell in a hand basket. Like Lot sitting in the gates of Sodom, he says nothing in the face of atrocities of morality and justice. He carries no cross as His Lord commanded. He calls those who are good evil and to those who actually are sinful, he offers no rebuke.

Shame on those who play “the Pharisee Card.” For they demonstrate that they are unwilling to suffer with Christ that they may also reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12). Worse still are those who fold, when the card is played.

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4 Responses to Playing the Pharisee Card

  1. Mr Davis says:

    You know I have to wonder about this, especially in light in how we operate today in even the evangelical churches. For the very scriptures that detail how we are to operate when we come together, these we lay aside to practice our traditional worship service, where the pulpit and the man behind the pulpit is exhalted above Christ. When we lay aside Scriptures and what they say to do we make ourselves the authroity, so I do not lie when I say this.

    See Romans 12-13, 1 Cor 12-14, Ephesians 4-5, Galatians 5, 1 Peter 4-5, Ecclesiastes 5, Titus 2

    Gosh if Christ Jesus is Lord and he sent His apostles and Paul whom he sent specifically to the gentiles and gave them His word to give to us and we don't heed that, what are we doing? Are we not saying His word is not sufficient, that His word is not able to make wise the simple, that not all come together for the expess benifit of one another that all may be built up in the unity that is in Christ Jesus and all may be edified.

    It seems generally from the Clergy to the laity we are Ok to continue as we are. This was foretold

    2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they (mankind) will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning , and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving , and being deceived.

    Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned (from the Scriptures); and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

    Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.

    1 Corinthians 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

    Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.


    • Ann says:

      It seems to me that our relgious system is set up more like the Nicolatians than the assemblies or congregations that met together in the Book of Acts.


  2. James says:

    This is an excellent and much needed article. Thank you for posting it.

    Here is where Jesus said that it was the Pharisees who valued man-made doctrines over the Word of God. This is how Jesus chose to define them and their error, as the article above points out:

    Mark 7:6-8 ESV And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; (7) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' (8) You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

    It is noteworthy that when one reads the accounts of Jesus and the Pharisees, Jesus points the Pharisees back to the Scriptures – the Old Testament at that time – to see what God's expectations really were. This is just as applicable today as it was then, but yet we see many teachers today who avoid the Old Testament. Ultimately, all Scripture points to Christ, and all Scripture is useful.


    • Ann says:

      Thank-You James!

      I am so thankful you addressed that particular Scripture! Once again I did not celebrate this pagan tradition of man called christmas. I was called swear words amongst other names, and mocked and ridiculed by those who profess with their very lips to know our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. James, how can those who call themselves Christians be so hateful to those of us who choose not to engage in false doctrine? What would happen to America if we did not celebrate Christmas……would we not then draw closer to Jesus and worship him in Spirit and in Truth according to His new covenant? Perhaps Christ is allowing us more grace and mercy in our sinful, fallen ways, than even the hearts of men.


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