Wednesday, November 17, 2010

VOTE TO END all prejudice against Pharisees NOW!!

We need to have boogie men or we are not satisfied.  We need to set up somebody to take the hit or we are not happy.  And I am tired of it.  Pharisees have acquired a less than honorable reputation and I am here to tell you all to cease and desist of your unkindness toward Pharisees.  While many of you may attribute your uncharitable view of the Pharisee to Jesus' stern rebukes, I am telling you to back off.

Pharisees are good people.  They make great neighbors and good citizens.  They do not steal, cheat, or lie.  They are not given to idleness and are, in fact, quite industrious.  They are not deviants and harbor no prurient interests.  They don't cheat on their spouses and are really good parents to their children.  They go to PTA meetings while the rest of us are home in front of the TV and they organize sales and fund raisers for all sorts of good causes.  They go to church religiously, they pray and don't just talk about it, and, best of all they tithe -- dutifully!!  They are fair and just to friend, foe, and stranger all alike.  So stop crapping on the Pharisees!

Pharisees are good, solid folks.  They are believers through and through and they put their money where their mouth is.  They are not depressed or anguished souls but happy -- happy with God and happy with who they are.  They don't whine or complain but hold everyone to the very same high standard they hold for themselves.  They are solid middle class types who work hard, who don't waste their money on foolish things, and who are generous with those in need.

Why compare the Pharisee in working clothes, driving his Chevy, to that flashy Publican in a shiny suit and gaudy tie, riding in a chauffeur driven limo, drinking high priced booze, smoking real Cubans, with a couple of $1,000 flashy trash on each arm and which one do you want moving in next door or slipping down the pew to sit next to you???

You have just met up with a person on a personal quest against the unfair characterization and denigration of the fine, upstanding Pharisee.  If you don't want them, send them to me.  We need volunteers to weed the church gardens and clip our bushes.  We need painters for our worn walls and teachers for our Sunday school, and cooks who bring huge pans of hot, delicious lasagna to our pot lucks.  We need ushers and choir members, Bible study attenders and greeters -- who don't look down their noses at a pledge card when it is offered to them.  Yeah, give me your tired, your Pharisees yearning to serve freely... I'll take as many as I can get.

Seems to me they have only one problem and it is not with me.  Their problem is not with me but with God.  You see, they look great and do good.  But it just ain't good enough or great enough to impress God.  All that darn scandal of grace stuff... You have to check your works at the door or you don't get in with God.  Why, the Pharisee looks better than anybody else but it is not enough.  You have to have more righteousness than a Pharisee to open God's gate.  In the scandal of grace, the Pharisee and the Publican are the same.  The best looking rat in the rat race is still a rat.  So says, God, anyway...  Goodness gives way to grace as the only card accepted at the heavenly gate -- grace, pure grace, and only Christ's brand will do...Grrrrrr.... Argggggg.... Ahhhhh...

What more can I say than "On Christ the solid rock, I stand... all other ground is sinking sand..."

A few thoughts inspired by Capon on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican who went in the Temple to pray. . .


Anonymous said...

some language thoughts based on your well written musing on our tongue-fumbles...

I grew up with the Slovak liturgy (or German liturgy) and who knows how or when or why that was changed since Hus or Luther until I saw the English in the early 1940s in a mustardy green LCMS hymnal (they weren’t service or worship books then by title or reference).
And then came the blue (albeit a few had red covers and one Milwaukee parish along maybe with Valpo U. had special bound brown) covers of The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH). 1941-ish times were war years (surviving and rebuilding and having babies were enough to do) and until 1978 the book was unparalleled in LCMS use (except of course for the Worship Supplement). It seemed like forever that there was no change in wording. Even the KJV was unchallenged until the RSV. But it was only a little more than 30- years (37 years), the time of a schooling plus a doctorate… when again it was a little less than 30 years (28) until in 2006 the LSB (not enough) and ELW (groan, too much) appeared. Change is not so rapid though it often feels rabid. And of course the new forays into de-paternizing the Father and motherizing things is a whole other line of disgusting discussion. Just think of the number of books that are now published and the trend now to e-books and self-publication. If Gutenberg marked a changed in course, what of how things are done today with words and their gathering. Printing is hardly the issue, texting the thing. What one says can almost immediately appear in text on my iPad and in another app be translated faster than one can type, oops process, in one of scores of languages and be spoken aloud in that tongue. The church is arguing about the liturgy projected on screens (which I hate) but I think the use of words (and ultimately the Word of Scripture for us) is moving far beyond that. We fight about feminizing the language of God (albeit it a terrible thing to do) and are we missing the opportunities our time is offering us to gospelize the world in some rather special ways that other ages did not have at their disposal? Harvey Mozolak

Rev. Jon Micheel said...

Could it be that the parable of the Pharisee and publican is so familiar that the shock is lost on us?

I seem to recall Capon's imagined extension of the parable... We jeer the Pharisee and cheer the humble publican. But imagine that the Pharisee spends the next week praying, tithing, and helping feed orphans. The publican, however, slips right back into his old ways. He cheats, he steals, he exploits. The next week the two men come back to the church to pray, and the publican again walks out justified!

Are we still cheering for him and for the God who justifies the wicked?

Thanks for the post. Grace is shocking and scandalous.

Janis Williams said...


The sad truth is no believer escapes being a pharisee. Just as none of us escape being murderers or adulterers (by Jesus' definition of the Law), none escapes being an idolater, or a pharisee.

Thanks be to God for the scandal of the Cross!

ErnestO said...

I have not earned my righteousness and so I'm in no position to insist the Pharisee or the Publican earn theirs.

Anonymous said...

The best book about the joy of grace
Manning. The unconditional love of
God for everyone.