Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Sins of the Pharisees (Both the Ancient and Modern types)

Stan, at his blog, recently posted his hunches about why modern day "fundamentalists" or "conservative evangelicals"* are viewed as Pharisees. I have heard this before and this (as always) is not directed to Stan specifically, but just to this protestation that, "We aren't Pharisees!"

Stan (speaking of those who'd accuse conservatives of being Pharisees) said...

"I'm a pharisee because I believe Scripture teaches X and we ought to do it. They don't think we ought to do it, so I'm the pharisee.

I'm a pharisee because I take Scripture seriously and they don't.

I'm the pharisee because when God speaks, I intend to listen. They're not because when they speak, the listen intently. I'm the pharisee because they perceive an hypocrisy that isn't actually real."

So, I'm really trying to deal with this one point, so let me make it clear:

It's not (NOT NOT NOT) because you "you take Scripture seriously and we don't..." That is NOT IT. Let me say it again: It is NOT because we think you take Scripture seriously. That is just laughably NOT the point.

It is because, like the Pharisees, you miss the point of Scripture.

The Pharisees WERE good people, well-intentioned men who tended to live very moral lives (at least at a shallow level). They were rule followers and rule teachers. The Pharisees' sin (and it was huge) was in approaching the bible as a magic rule book. IF you just understand all the rules and apply them correctly, THEN you will be good with God. IF you FAIL to read the magic rule book correctly (at least on some key points), you were a sinner bound for hell.

So, to make even more explicit what rules we need to follow (this, according to the pharisaic interpretation of the Scripture), they "clarified" by adding rule upon rule to make it clear what it means to "observe the Sabbath" or to "honor your parents..." So, while the number of steps you could take without dishonoring the Sabbath was never told to them by God or the Scripture, they "clarified" the matter by defining how many steps one could take. It was a Pharisaical rule THEY ADDED that said, "No more than 3000 steps on the Sabbath..."

I would say that the point of Scripture/ethical living/morality/Godliness is grace, or at least Christians and reasonable people believe. That is the starting place for understanding. Scripture should be read by and in grace. Morality should be understood within the confines of grace.

But for the Pharisees (modern and ancient), the point of Scripture is that we have a list of rules that we can follow so that we can "know" we are living God's way. And some of these rules are serious as hell... you break the sabbath and you should be killed, says the OT ruling (taken literally). There was a death penalty attached to failing to honor the Sabbath. So, the Pharisees reason, we need to take these rules seriously and literally and, if we need to add some "clarification" to take it literally, so be it.

So, the reasonable moral person looks at two loving people wanting to get married, committing to a life of mutual love and respect and support, and we see that as a clearly moral good.

But the Pharisees look at two GUYS wanting to get married and they say, "Ah, but God has a rule prohibiting that."

Of course, the Bible has no such rule and God has not told them that. It's a ruling they added to "clarify" what the Bible says and, thus, what God thinks (they say).

So, there you have the first major sin of the Pharisees: "adding ruling upon ruling upon the backs of others..." a grace-less life of rule following. Missing the point of the Bible and morality.

And there you also have the second sin of the Pharisees... Arrogance and presumption. THEY are the ones who can rightly read the Holy Scripture and rightly tell everyone else what these various rulings mean and offer rulings that apply to everyone else.

This was true of ancient Pharisees and it is true of the modern evangelical/fundamentalist sect of "christianity..." a sect that completely misses the point of Scripture even with Jesus' help to make it clear.

Oh, and I would say that the third sin of the Pharisees (modern and ancient) was that they neglected the weightier matters of the law.

God, in the Bible, as Jesus in the NT makes clear, was a God of grace and justice. A God who, in his grace was concerned about specifically justice for the poor and marginalized. God was/is a God who sides with the poor, the immigrant, the stranger, the orphaned, the sick, the oppressed and the marginalized. God and Jesus teach throughout the Bible that THIS was the point of true religion: Aiding/siding with the down and out. In grace, working for justice.

But the Pharisees have always been more about a simple-minded, limited "morality" that was concerned especially with "sexual sins" and an outward appearance of cleanliness and "holiness..." but such a religion misses the point and, thus, walks by the neighbor in need, rather than stopping to help.

Concerned about "personal morality..." how much one gives and how "pure" one is sexually? Okay, that's fine, as far as it goes (and it doesn't go far). But we should not neglect the weightier matters of the law: Justice, working with and alongside the poor and marginalized.

Thus, in summation, the Sins of the Pharisees and why modern conservative Christians are comparable to Pharisees, and not in a favorable way...

1. Adding rule upon rule, creating rules that are not Godly or reasonable, adding a load to people's backs and doing so without grace or love - thus missing the point of Scripture - it is a book of Grace, not a rulings book;
2. Arrogance and presumption, that THEY are the true interpreters of Scripture and if you disagree with them on at least some key points, you're not likely a God follower;
3. Neglecting the weightier matters of justice for the poor and marginalized, while focusing on these outwardly "pure" rulings about sex and giving and "the Sabbath."

*Caveat: As I often note, I have problems with the terms "fundamentalist," "conservative" and "evangelicals..." in applying them to modern conservative Christians. I don't think they are in any sense advocating a return to "fundamentals" or to Good News ("evangelicalism"), nor are they especially "conservative..." but these are the best terms I have for them right now.

Unless we just want to refer to them as Modern Pharisees, which, sadly, is an apt name for too many conservative Christians. **

**Additional caveat: This is not true for all conservatives. I was raised by some excellent, Godly conservatives, both at home and in my church. These "moderate conservatives" we might call them, still had that tinge of Phariseeism about them (about US, since I was one), but it was at least moderated by grace and that goes a long way.***

***Additional caveat: This temptation towards Pharisaism is one that I think can affect liberals, as well. I mean, at least with liberals, they DO tend to start from a place of taking seriously the weightier matters of justice, as opposed to just rule following "purity..." but they/we do have a tendency to be pretty dogmatic about adding rule upon rule for others to follow (don't drive, don't eat meat, here SPECIFICALLY is how you ought to recycle... No! You oughtn't recycle at all, you ought not generate waste!) to the point of where it becomes a weight upon our backs and the backs of others and we certainly face the temptation of arrogance, that WE are the true interpreters of righteousness, the Bible, God and morality... so, this are of concern is one I have for me and liberals, as well as conservatives... it's something to watch out for.

Which is why, Grace.


Dan Trabue said...

To address some questions being raised at Stan's... because they still don't get it.

1. There’s no doubt the progressive Pharisees have their own pet rules. The problem is that they say they aren’t rules, yet treat them as if they are.

We never said that we have no rules. Let me say that again: We NEVER said that we have no rules, nor that there are no rules, nor that people ought not live in certain ways. Never said that.

2. To be clear, there might be some discussion about what commands Jesus meant when He said what He said, but you can’t get from Jesus statement to zero commands (rules).

Nor did we ever say that there are no rules found within the Bible. What we said is that to treat the Bible AS a rule or rulings book is missing the point. The point of the Bible is NOT "Here are some rules, some from 4,000 years ago, some from 2,000 years ago, written to specific people in specific times about specific issues... apply those SAME rules to today for you AND for others..." That is NOT the point of the Bible and if you try to lift passages out of context of the Bible and THEN ADD TO THEM your particular interpretation/explanation of what should be a rule (i.e., God never says limit your steps to 3000 on Saturdays, but it's an extra rule that Pharisees made up... God never says guys shouldn't marry guys, it's an extra rule that modern Pharisees made up...), then you are missing the point of the Bible.

The point of the Bible is grace, love, justice. IF you want to use your God given reason to think through what is most gracious, loving and just and create some standards that are different than what was going on 4,000 years ago (for instance, that slavery is ALWAYS wrong because, of course it is! That LGBTQ folk have rights and should be free to marry, because of course, they are! That women have rights and should be able to vote or work or preach, because of course they should! Reason, justice, kindness, mercy and grace all insist upon it!), then that is fitting within the over all teaching of the Bible, but also within the understanding of reason and justice and grace that humans can comprehend.

That we can't comprehend justice or love perfectly does NOT mean that we can't still reasonably understand it. And we understand, clearly, that just because slavery was allowed and even commanded 4000 years ago (if you take that command literally) does not mean that is is a moral good.

The point is also, use your head!

3. I don't understand why I'm a pharisee because I say that Scripture calls such and such wrong but they're not a pharisee for calling me evil for saying it.

We didn't say you were "evil" for expressing your opinion about what "scripture calls wrong..." We said that for you to try to use the Bible as a rulings book is missing the point and can lead to evil.

Just as if some people were still using the Bible as a rulings book to say that slavery was sometimes okay... NO! It is NEVER okay and just because there are rules in the Bible that allow it does not mean that it is morally acceptable, indeed, it is evil! How do we know this? Because we use our God-given reasoning, instead of lifting a ruling out of the Bible and trying to suggest that it's applicable for morality today. Those who used the bible to justify slavery (and clearly, slavery IS acceptable and even commanded in the Bible, so, if you're using the Bible as a rulings book, you can understand how someone could reach that conclusion) ultimately did so because they missed the point and, in missing the point, conflated their hunches with God's Word and THAT led to evil.

If that helps. But just as you all miss the point of the words in the Bible, it appears you're equally able to miss the point of my words.

Dan Trabue said...

To clarify further on the question 1 about the Bible and rules...

Progressive Christians, the Bible informs our thinking. Especially, we look to Jesus teachings to help inform our moral and Theological understanding.

What we DON'T do is say, "look, here is a line in the Old Testament..." or even, "look, here's a line from Jesus that says do this, therefore we should do this... Therefore this should be a modern law. Because, the Bible."

That is what we don't do or say that distinguishes us from the more modern Pharisaic way of treating the Bible. The point being, we use our God-given reasoning to think through matters of morality, matters of public policy, not merely cite, "look here's a line from the Bible. That's all we need. The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."

The difference being that we gladly acknowledge that we are using our God given reasoning to consider all the elements of a topic, including biblical traditions, but not limiting it to biblical tradition.

The slavery topic is a perfect example. Biblically speaking, it's pretty clear that the teachings within the Bible do not come out and condemned slavery. Indeed, God commands slavery at times. The teaching is, at best, to get along with your slave master, not fight against slavery. If we were using the Bible as the sole Arbiter of deciding matters of morality, then we would be forced to acknowledge that slavery is a legitimate moral option, at least at some points and in some cases.

But we don't limit ourselves to letting the Bible be the final arbiter. For one thing, we acknowledge that when we say the Bible what we mean is are understanding of the Bible. For another thing we acknowledge that the Bible never says that it is a universal final arbiter of moral questions. So try to force the Bible to be the final decider on moral questions is, we acknowledge, contrary to any teaching found within the Bible. It is a self-defeating argument.

I'm out of time, I'm not sure if I successfully said while I was trying to say just now. I might come back to this.

Dan Trabue said...

More questions from Stan, who admits he doesn't understand, but misses the point as to why he doesn't understand. He's confused about why some people push back strongly and harshly against his judgmentalism. He asked, isn't this being judgemental?

I don't really get it, he says, bewildered.

That much, he got right.

Jesus, of course, is the embodiment of love and grace and compassion. And yet...

And follow me closely now...

aAND YET, Jesus struck out harshly against the Pharisees with vitriol. Does that mean the Jesus wasn't being loving? Or, does it mean that, yes, we should not be judgemental generally and yes we should not be hateful generally... BUT, when faced with certain circumstances, there is a time for striking out with vitriol and harsh words?

Do you think that Jesus was mistaken, Stan?

Feodor said...

Even when Jesus was invited for dinner with a Pharisee host, he let them have it. Stan engages in that immature solipsistic attempt at a trap by saying that those who point out hate and judgment are engaging in it. Which only has the result of protecting nice, white racists and misogynists and bigots. It is a shallow rhetorical defense that has been used here for 400 years.

I join with you in spirit, Dan, but I have issues with how Stan and you are met aphorizing the Pharisees. I think you are far more on track to say that pharisaical attitudes are prevalent in every culture when it comes to influencing the values of daily life. We do get bogged down in narrow judgments - in every culture - once everyone is seen as equal. How should we recycle? How should we organize our children's schedule? How should we talk about death? How should we distract ourselves from our commute? How should we manage social media, electronic devices, video games, and exercise/nutrition? And the Pharisees and Saducees just represent the religious arguementativeness analog of that human habit. that we have today between sacramental Christianity and protestant Christianity, between Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, etc. The down side of neurotic attention to daily organization is that we cut ourselves off from the deep swells of life and love, passion and compassion that come to us unscheduled, not bagged right, messing with the agenda. That, as you've suggested is Phariseeism.

I told Stan that he is more Judaizer than Pharisee. (Which he hilariously tried to rebut because a Judaizer has to be Jewish. But he didn't realize that a 1st century Pharisee is ... also necessarily Jewish.)

A modern day Judaizer is one who is not so much in the weeds of recycling but in the gate keeping business of salvation itself. Reading Galatians, even just the first three chapters, is enough to realize that Stan and Craig and Marshal and others like them "add burdens to backs of people they themselves don't carry" and make salvation out of reach for those who don't keep the sure signs of God's favor. In Galatians it was circumcision and the Torah. And St. Paul says that Christ brought us freedom, but the Judaizers want to re-imprison Christians in the law and the sign.

That is Stan and the boys: they want to brutalize us all by putting us in the prison of a book with them.

In the post after the Pharisee one, Stan writes, "For the Christian the standard of orthodoxy comes from God because the Christian believes that humans are morally fallen (Rom 3:23) with deceitful hearts (Jer 17:9) and deceived minds (2 Tim 3:13). So we decide what right thinking is based on God's Word."

Notice how, "comes from God" automatically and without consciousness becomes, "based on God's Word." For Stan and the boys, that leather bound, red ink stained book printed in China but composes in English translation... is God. When you quote Stan's talking about "hearing God" Stan can refer to noting else by "hearing" God than the book, in whatever English variety Stan prefers.

THAT! is a godless prison. THAT! is evil therefore. And THAT! is devouring Stan and Craig and Marshal and people like them.

I'll be bemused by the Pharisee who fights about the altar flowers or keep an ear to those who raise the alarm about farmed salmon.

What these guys do, though, must be condemned.

Marshal Art said...

The point of the Bible is God.

Feodor said...

Exactly. You should follow the way it points: move on from the book to god.

Dan Trabue said...

And God is a God of grace and love, not rules.

Marshal Art said...

Oh yeah? Go murder someone.

Dan Trabue said...

What is it with you all? Just because I affirm Grace does not mean I don't believe that humans have rules we live by. You understand that reality?

Dan Trabue said...

Biblically speaking, God is a god of Grace and love and Justice especially for the marginalized. That is affirmed throughout the Bible. Never once, is it Affirmed they got us specifically the god of rules and rulings. Consider adultery. Neo test that we find a rule that did exist back then that says not to commit adultery, that it is wrong to adultery, and that you should be killed if you commit adultery.

But Jesus comes along and clarifies the point for us. There was a woman literally caught in the act of adultery. And what did Jesus do, did he affirmed the ruling? Or did he respond with Grace and love and compassion and justice? The ladder. In so doing Jesus Affirmed what is obvious throughout the Bible, that God is a god of Grace and love, not rules. Those who live by the rules die by the rules and it is a hellish path to take.

Craig said...

Except He did affirm the ruling. He just pointed out that no one else had the standing to condemn her. After which He told her “don’t sin anymore”.

It’s interesting that you take this story pretty literally, when it’s most likely not an actual occurrence.

Can we learn anything from that?

Marshal Art said...

"Just because I affirm Grace does not mean I don't believe that humans have rules we live by. You understand that reality?"

The reality is that you refuse to accept that the rules of God exist and are meant to be obeyed by those who claim to love Jesus. That is, those rules you don't like.

It was said recently, by either you or feo, that Christ spoke of the Law to the Jews of the time and as such the OT laws are not meant for us (a paraphrase...if it came from you and is distorted from what you meant, please clarify). My first thought was that Jesus was speaking to His followers, regardless of whether or not they were actually Jews. Are you a follower? If so, then why would you suppose (if you do) that He wasn't telling YOU to obey God's commandments?

The Pharisees interpreted the Law. That was their job. The problem Christ had with them is that they became rather power mad and saw their job as having given them lordship over the people who relied upon them for instruction. They no longer regarded the Law as they should and were not examples of what a child of God should be. They satisfied themselves with the appearance of being holy, rather than actually being holy.

But Christ's concern was NOT that the Pharisees reminded the people of what the Law said. How can one possibly be a true follower without the Law that instructs the follower as to what does and does not please God?

To the extent that the Pharisees added to the Law, the application of the word "Pharisee" as a pejorative is far more appropriate if applied to you and feo than it is to us. We are not making things up. We are not forcing a damned thing, except the urge to consider what Scripture says about any given behavior in question. It is you and feo who makes up self-pleasing alternatives, such as the perennial favorite, SSM. To suggest that God compels us to accept the behavior that leads to SSM is completely un-biblical because it contradicts the only indication Scripture gives as to the morality of the underlying behavior. We don't make up new laws regarding that behavior, but only point to Scripture's total and complete prohibition of it, by which no other promotion of the behavior is any less sinful.

I would add that your constant referral to OT punishments for breaking Mosaic law is also un-biblical, due to the fact that how folks were to be sanctified was different before Christ's sacrifice on the cross. But the behavior that separated one from God was never removed from the list of "Thou shalt not"s. Thus, we are not ignoring anything when we support obedience to any OT moral law without also obeying the law to put to death those who don't obey it.

Finally, we are not replacing God with a book simply because we abide the teachings of God of which the book informs us. That's absurd. All we do in this day and age with regard to law is the result of what that book has taught mankind since it was first written. To say a notion is simply something all people instinctively know is simply ignoring the fact that we are the result of thousands of years of Judeo-Christian influence that now seems natural and obvious. It wasn't always so before Christ, and it less so before Moses. I would not want a world that depends on those like yourself...and worse, feo...for instruction on how to please God OR simply to live morally.

Dan Trabue said...

That you have a piss poor, harshly judgmental and authoritarian view of God?

This is literally Jesus demonstrating the difference between a God who is fundamentally a god Of Grace and love and a God who is fundamentally a god of harsh judgmentalism, petty rule-following, and vindictiveness.

When the Bible, taking hold, takes about the nature of God, it is clear that God is a god primarily of love and grace. Of justice for the poor of the oppressed, which is back to being a god of love and grace.

Nowhere within the pages of the Bible do you find it to be God's very nature to be petty and vindictive or one of the rule following. If one does find that within scripture, then one has done what the Pharisees have managed to do. Reducing God to a set of rules to follow where in they are the ones who dictate the rules, and they do so absent any Grace.

Dan Trabue said...

Another Point that's interesting is that here, we finally see a story where you are willing to concede that it may not be literally factual, and presumably you do that because some experts suggest it didn't literally happen or it wasn't literally part of God's word. Those experts who believe.

But other experts who tell you your literal interpretation of the Old Testament is not factually accurate, you just dismiss it. You dismiss scholarly expertise when it's a question of Grace, but not when it's about petty rule following.

We can see what sort of god you follow. It is the god of the Pharisees.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, elsewhere, said... "I like the way you snuck justice in after the staring emphatically that God was only about “grace and love, not rules”.

Justice, as we see it throughout the Bible, is almost always (always?) being spoken of in terms of ensuring that there is Justice for specifically the poor, the orphans, the oppressed, the immigrants, The Outsiders. In the context of a world that acts and unjustly towards the poor and marginalized, God is specifically concerned about Justice. And that Justice, we see throughout the Bible, is coming from a place of love and grace.

So in the story of the adulterous woman, the Pharisees have chosen the route of being blind and Petty rule-followers. That adultery was against the rules. Period. She is a woman who has broken the rules (minus the man, mind you), therefore she should be killed. Period. That's the law.

But God, as Jesus demonstrated, is not simply or primarily a rule-following God. God is primarily a god of love and grace and justice for the oppressed. This woman was part of an oppressed class and Jesus came to her defense not in legalism and following the law to the letter, but in Grace as a matter of Justice and love.

Do you think I'm mistaken? Because clearly, Pharisees would.

Feodor said...

I didn't realize Christians were the only ones that ruled murder out of order. And only because God told them too?

Not true. The Code of Ur-Nammu. Buddhists. The Quran. Atheists. etc.

1. Muder is a variable human rule. Aztec sacrifice. Capital punishment.

2. The Bible is conflicted in its presentation. God and social norms can murder innocents.

Yet another, perhaps thousandth reason that Scripture cannot serve as god. Only as a fallible way to god. God redeems and perfects people, not a book.

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

Craig said...


I’m merely pointing out the reality that the one passage you use to hang your entire point on is likely not part of the original manuscript and likely not something that actually happened. It speaks volumes about your theology.

Feodor said...

Has Craig read even 1/4 of any one actual volume of actual theology? Not likely.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, are you saying you are ignorant of the teachings of Grace over and against legalism as found in the Bible? Because I could give you some pointers on the topic if you're ignorant of it. Just tell me that you're ignorant of it and I'll help you out.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, elsewhere...

What’s interesting is that when Jesus uses harsh words and violent actions, He’s defending His territory. He’s defending the Temple, the holiest place in Israel, in a sense His home on earth. What else does he defend harshly? He defends the faith...

Actually, if you read the text, you'll see that the money changers were charging rates that specifically targeted and harmed the poor.

Jesus was literally chasing them out because of their attacks on the poor. He was not chasing them out because of a perceived assault on "the faith," but of an actual assault on the poor.

Good exegesis. It's much more helpful than shallow eisegeisis (sp?).

Feodor said...

Exactly. And Craig immediately follows that by claiming that Jesus never got that worked up over the poor and oppressed.

Can you image?! He actually erases the heart of Jesus earthly ministry.

So I sent him the text where consigns to hell those neglect the poor.

“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

And of course, having sold his character away for brutalizing GOP politics, he couldn’t admit his gaping error.

Craig said...


Since no one is arguing in favor of “legalism” your opinions on a false comparison do not interest me in the least.

Yes, exegesis is helpful, if you look at the passage it doesn’t reference “the poor” at all.

If we are to trust Jesus words we see that this is what upset Him. “My house will be called a house of prayer,’[e] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”

Let’s be clear. This is Jesus making a case for His divinity as well as claiming the holiest place in Judaism as “My house”.

Let’s not forget that we have one more instance of Jesus not extending grace, but instead being judgemental.

But given your bent to take the figurative literally, and to read in to the literal all sorts of figurative meanings, I think I’ll get my theology from folx who are a little more consistent.

Dan Trabue said...

So you're not aware that Jesus was taking action at the temple in response to an assault on the poor?

When the Traders were charging a whole lot more for those sacrifices which were the ones that the poorest people had to buy... And they had to buy them in order to be right with God in that system... so by jacking up the prices for the sacrificial doves, they were directly assaulting the poor. You're not familiar with that?

I'd suggest learning more, then. That's what happened. Jesus' actions in the temple were a response to the assault on the poor.

Educate yourself. Read the text AND the context.

Craig said...

All I’m doing is looking at the “red letters”. If the words of Jesus Himself aren’t enough for you, I don’t know what is.

Dan Trabue said...

There's the problem. You also have to use your brain.

Craig said...

But yes, look at the context. It’s in the context of Jesus entering Jerusalem as a King. Also look at the history, they weren’t so much cheating the poor as cheating those who’d travelled to Jerusalem for Passover and weren’t able to bring their sacrifices with them.

The problem you have is that the text doesn’t support your hunch, so you have to impose it somehow.

But, hey if you can show me one place in the text of Matthew 21 or the parallel passage in Mark that explicitly calls out “justice for the poor”, I’d be happy to see that.

Craig said...

You mean like use your brain to read the plain words of Jesus, already done.

Or you could explain how the words of Jesus do t mean what they say.

Craig said...

...don’t mean what they say. Autocorrect

Feodor said...

“My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”
Craig: "if you look at the passage it doesn’t reference “the poor” at all.

Apparently, no one was robbed by the robbers.

It was Passover, a few hundred thousand Jews from all over the countryside and from other Roman vassal states were in the city, the capital of Ancient Israel, the location of the Second Temple ordered built by Cyrus, rededicated by the Maccabees, made more ornate by Herod the Great.

All this lies in the background of the text, of the story, and is so important to a gospel writer that it appears in all four gospels. The Synoptics AND John. Because it is all hugely vital that Jesus' earthly ministry is see in its full significance as he moves toward the Passion.

This is, too, is being told to us by the gospel writers: these money changers were camped out targeting those from foreign lands who needed to change Greek and Roman money into Jewish shekels; the dove sellers camped out targeting the poor and women who wanted to make sacrifice but could not afford anything more elaborate. And the merchants were raking it in off of those who had little choice. At the temple.

Jesus drove them out, "you've made it a den of robbers." And then he put an embargo on carrying any sellable goods through the temple. The next day, back in the Temple, he said about the scribes, "They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Craig's spirit is imprisoned by a book. The gospel is lost to him.

Anonymous said...

"Apparently, no one was robbed by the robbers."

Do robbers rob the poor? Certainly not if there were more wealthy people about, and there were at that time, having traveled in for Passover. But no doubt they'd try to get as much out of whomever bought or exchanged with them. That is, they were equal opportunity robbers and if the point is they were robbing, it is foolish to think that Christ was ONLY concerned with the poorer folks being robbed, with no regard for everyone else who were also being overcharged for animals and shekels.

I looked at about a dozen links offered in response to the question, "Why did Christ drive out the money changers?" Not a one focused on the poor. Every commentary spoke of one of three things:

1. Making it difficult for those who wanted to enter and pray.
2. Cheating people by overcharging, particularly travelers who weren't familiar with Jerusalem, and
3. To herald His own fate and the exchange of His sacrifice in place of animal sacrifices for sin. This is said to be the significance of and why He drove out the animals, more than just them crapping all over the holy place.

"This is literally Jesus demonstrating the difference between a God who is fundamentally a god Of Grace and love and a God who is fundamentally a god of harsh judgmentalism, petty rule-following, and vindictiveness."

No it is not, because as Craig said, and as the story itself says, Christ was demonstrating that the Law was to be obeyed, but that no one there had authority to enforce the alleged infraction by stoning the woman...including Himself as another citizen (as opposed to His authority as God). He did nothing to ignore, reject or dismiss the Law, as He told them that were any without sin, they should be the first to throw a high hard one, He actually was abiding the Law, but in a way that did not leave Himself entrapped by their devious plot. His admonition that she "sin no more" was certainly judgemental, as He acknowledged that she was at least a sinner, if not guilty of the charge against her, as the text suggests she was. In short, the Law was very much respected by Christ and it is clear by His admonition that He expected the woman to abide it as well.

The rules are there for a reason, just as any rule is. In the case of the Law, it is to teach us how to live according to God's will for understand what sin is by knowing what we are prohibited from doing. Unless there is some later teaching regarding any behavior prohibited in the OT, we are still prohibited today. The difference is only that as alleged believers and followers of Christ, we're allegedly less likely to engage in such behaviors (assuming one isn't a "progressive" "Christian") because we've accepted Christ as our Savior.

Reminding our brothers and sisters what the rules are when they are breaking them...or about NOT in any way comparable to the behavior of the Pharisees. Not even close, particularly if one's main focus is on pleasing God one's self. Nor is this an indication of "the gospel being lost to us", that we "worship a book instead of God" or any other silly, nonsensical and self-serving accusation. It's actually showing grace and love to a fellow sinner.

Dan Trabue said...

Anonymous... "it is foolish to think that Christ was ONLY concerned with the poorer folks being robbed..."

It might be foolish, IF one had never read all the words of Jesus and just assumed He had no particular concern for the poor. But one can't read the words of Jesus and reach that rather ridiculous conclusion. Yes, they were robbers taking advantage of all, but the poor were always at the forefront of Jesus concerns.

Re... "not a one focused on the poor..."

Perhaps you need a better class of biblical scholars? That you didn't find any Scholars mentioning the concern doesn't mean they don't exist.

Feodor said...

The poor, and women (who had no control of money, so no money of their own), could not afford the Korban (ritual slaughter of a bull, sheep, or goat for Passover. The poor and almost all women could only afford to sacrifice doves. Which is why doves were there.

So, anonymous, the question you have to ask yourself is: why was the selling of doves singled out by Matthew and Mark and not the selling of bulls, goats, and lambs?

Why do they have Jesus - specifically - turn over the benches of the sellers of doves?


Dan Trabue said...

Precisely. Even wikipedia mentions the exploitation of the poor in their information about the Cleansing. As do the conservatives at Ligonier Ministries...

That you are unaware of this exploitation of the poor in this story is only a sign that the message of the Pharisees is alive and well.

Craig said...


You seem to think that pointing out that Jesus words don’t include any reference to the economics status of the people being “robbed”, means that “the poor” are excluded from that list. You would be wrong.

You still haven’t explained how the words of Jesus mean something other than what they plainly say.

Feodor said...

Jesus: "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven"

Craig: "It’s almost like Jesus was suggesting that emulating the Pharisees in some areas was a good thing."

Jesus: "“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment..."

Craig: "What doesn’t he [Jesus] get really worked up about? His personal safety. The poor and oppressed, (not denying that He spoke about them, but He didn’t verbally or physically attack anyone). The sick."

Hooh, boy. Craig's illiteracy alone, much less his brutalizing theology are head spinning.

Dan Trabue said...

Yup. Craig, from Matthew 21...

"And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers

and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 

He said to them, “It is written, h‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame [ie, the poor] came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant..."

1. Perhaps you're not well-informed enough to know that there were many sacrifices being made and sold in the temple. Sheep, goats and doves or pigeons. Perhaps you do not know, in your ignorance, who specifically it was who bought the pigeons, is that fair?

Perhaps you didn't know it was the poor you bought those. Why do you think Matthew cites specifically the sacrifices being bought by the poor and not the others?

It is, as the conservative people I cited earlier noted, because taking advantage specifically of the poor was what specifically in this text literally riled Jesus up.

2. This passage is immediately followed by the text where Jesus, having chased out those who were taking advantage of the poor, how he then specifically helped and healed the poor.

You do not know because you do not look. Open your eyes.

Craig said...


Once again, you haven’t explained how Jesus words mean something other than what they plainly say.

1. Exactly they sold all sorts of animals suitable for sacrifice primarily to those who had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover (a celebration of an event you deny happened), and some of those travelers were poor. They also changed coinage into that which was acceptable in the temple. Nowhere does the text explicitly indicate that the poor were specifically targeted or preyed on worse that anyone else. The only specific indicators of Jesus’ motivation is to look at the words He used, in the context of His arrival and purpose for coming to Jerusalem. One also could consider that the part of the temple being preempted by this commerce, was the only part of the temple where gentiles could worship and pray. Given Jesus’ more inclusive message, it’s reasonable to suspect that He had that in mind as well. But all we can say with relative certainty is that which He actually said.

2. According to the text, He Healed “the blind and lame”. Granted, those conditions usually led to poverty, but poverty wasn’t a given. Again, you’ve added something that isn’t explicitly in the text in order to try to support your hunch. You’ve even ignored the context that doesn’t support your hunch while adding in context that you think helps you.

I have looked, that’s why I’ve seen the context and the specific words of Jesus that you haven’t been able to twist or explain away, so you ignore them.

Dan Trabue said...

So the conservatives and many other scholars are wrong and you're right because you don't see it? Got it.

I allowed a few comments from you two, but as you continue to miss the obvious, you're done.

Dan Trabue said...

Or, here, I'll give you a chance to least demonstrate you can see some reality. Just answer these questions.

1. Do you recognize that many scholars and groups (including the group I cited which is conservative) view it as obvious that the Traders were oppressing the poor and this specifically angered Jesus?

2. What is your explanation for Matthew specifically siding the doves as opposed to the offerings that were purchased by wealthier people?

3. Do you recognize the reality that doves in that day and time where the sacrifice that specifically poor people were purchasing?

Dan Trabue said...

It's one thing to be ignorant of context. It's another thing to cling to your ignorance in lieu of opening your eyes.

"A common interpretation is that Jesus was reacting to the practice of the money changers in routinely cheating the people, but Marvin L. Krier Mich observes that a good deal of money was stored at the temple, where it could be loaned by the wealthy to the poor who were in danger of losing their land to debt. The Temple establishment therefore co-operated with the aristocracy in the exploitation of the poor."

Craig said...

1. I realize that many scholars have multiple interpretations of Matthew 21.

2. If you can’t explain why Jesus specifically avoided mentioning “the poor” in His one direct quote, what possible standing do you have to demand that I do what you won’t?

3. Yes, do you recognize the reality that Jesus didn’t explicitly target the dove sellers? That he targeted everyone? That the only specific reason given for His violent rampage doesn’t mention “the poor”.

Craig said...

I completely understand, why your closing the door. I expected it sooner.

Dan Trabue said...

Jesus confronting the religious leaders in their cheating and oppression specifically of the poor is not, of course, limited to the cleansing of the temple...

Jesus Denounces the Scribes

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 

40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.

They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Offering

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Dan Trabue said...

"it became a matter of convenience to have a place where Roman coins could be exchanged for Jewish half shekels. The moneychangers provided this convenience, but, of course, required a small fee for the exchange. Because so many thousands came up for the great feasts in Jerusalem, changing money was a very profitable business — one that resulted in fraud and oppression of the poor."

Dan Trabue said...

Ah, I see you responded by NOT answering the questions asked of you. Or rather, you didn't answer two of them and on the third, you did answer, but then erred in obfuscation.

In fact, John's version of the story has Jesus addressing the dove traders specifically. Yes, he chased the whole mess out because the whole system was corrupt, but that does not change that Jesus is clearly responding directly to the oppression of the poor.

Don't bother commenting further unless you're going to answer the questions put to you.

Dan Trabue said...

In spite of Craig's false claims, he is not banned from here. Rather, I simply expect answers to questions and the basic recognition of reality. If he answers questions and if he recognizes reality, he can comment here. But given his long history of failing on both points, I have little patience remaining for rants, false claims and a failure to recognize reality.

Feodor said...

When Christians like Craig know they've taken a gutter road in their faith and others point it out, they, as Craig has done here, stop and remain in place with inane stubbornness on a rigid, empty point.

Craig says, "you haven’t explained how Jesus words mean something other than what they plainly say." Repeatedly now. It's his only strategy to cover for his shame. But it is, of course, an idiotic and very dangerous cover of biblical interpretation. Throughout history, mad zealots who have taken "Jesus words to mean only what they plainly say" have blinded themselves.

Craig cannot, apparently see anything other than what Jesus plainly says. So, "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." I never knew Craig was blind.

I'd rather he take Jesus plainly when Jesus follows the "plainly" directive eye-plucking statement with, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."

But I fear Craig is far too self-centered and sold to brutality to take that literally.

Marshal Art said...

I don't know why my previous comments appear under "anonymous", unless I inadvertently clicked on the Anonymous identity option. In any case, we'll see if it happens after this.

I read the Ligonier piece and it does not support your contention. The only mention of the poor is:

"Pilgrims paid exorbitant rates to change money, and sellers exploited those in poverty, overcharging for the poor man’s offering of pigeons and doves."

But as we can see, it comes along with how the sellers exploited also "pilgrims", which refers to all who come from afar, rich and poor alike. So the mention of the poor is merely a matter of listing who was screwed by those running things at the Temple; how they were defiling the Temple. As such, this does not serve as evidence the piece supports the contention that the story is about Jesus' concern for the poor. Nothing else in the piece so much as hints at such a thing.

The same is true with regards Wiki. It makes no effort to connect verses it adds regarding Temple corruption to Jesus' reasons for driving out the money changers. None whatsoever. Again, at best all one can honestly say is that those verses simply give more examples of the corruption of those who would otherwise be doing legitimate Temple business by providing animals and money exchanges. But none of it supports the contention that Christ's purpose driving out the jerks was about the poor. It wasn't. It was about the corruption of the money changers and their defiling the Temple, preventing worshipers from praying and heralding His impending death on our behalf.

This is not to say that there exists no evidence of Christ's/God's concern for the poor. It's just that the story of Christ driving out the money changers isn't one of them. If it were, then you'd be saying that He wasn't concerned about other people being robbed, or that if the poor weren't being robbed then He wouldn't care about all the others who were. Your SJW interpretation doesn't work at all.

Another false tactic of yours is to focus on one rendering of an event from Scripture and ignore renderings of other gospel writers that don't focus on the same point that strokes your socialist leanings. But to be consistent in even your own alleged style of Biblical study requires considering all of Scripture, in this case all references to this story in every gospel in which it appears, and then come to conclusions about Christ's mental state and intentions. So while you focus on doves appearing in one gospel, sheep and cattle are mentioned in another. THAT is what reality looks like and it is YOU who ignores it...not us. Thus...

Marshal Art said...

"1. Do you recognize that many scholars and groups (including the group I cited which is conservative) view it as obvious that the Traders were oppressing the poor and this specifically angered Jesus?"

You're conflating again. You've not provided anything that suggests any scholars or groups (specifically those you cited as conservative) "view it as obvious that the Traders were oppressing the poor and this specifically angered Jesus?"

"2. What is your explanation for Matthew specifically siding the doves as opposed to the offerings that were purchased by wealthier people?"

Nothing especially significant about it, but even if you can demonstrate the significance you wish to emphasize, you still can't ignore other renderings of the event, even if as some say, there were two such incidents recorded. It doesn't mean He was doing it because poor people were being screwed, but because crooked business was taking place in the House of God.

"3. Do you recognize the reality that doves in that day and time where the sacrifice that specifically poor people were purchasing?"

Of course, but irrelevant with regard to the point of the story and Christ's intentions and motivations for driving out the money changers. It is YOU that is imposing this motivation upon Him without Scriptural evidence of that actually being the case.

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feodor said...

It’s nothing but interpretation of scripture.

You two, needing to justify brutality, find a brutal Jesus contained within a book.

Dan and myself, needing a god of love, find a loving Jesus in the text, who is the figure of the loving Christ today.

Re the poor not being at the top of the messianic agenda: I wouldn't read the prophets if I were either of you.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, in a deleted comment, said, "It’s interesting that in a desire to justify the judgmental, vitriol, we see aimed at those that disagree, we see a willingness to abandon the “pacifist Jesus” position. This isn’t about interpreting scripture, it’s about justification for hatful, vitriolic, the ends justify the means tactics to defeat the enemy."

Part of the problem appears to be that Craig sees someone who strives to be a follower of the peacemaking Christ and he holds a hunch that this means they believe in a bland milquetoast christ.

The Jesus that ana Baptist, progressive Christian types find to be biblical and rational is the fiery, steel-strong, crafty revolutionary Christ who, while he's a peacemaker and gentle with and for the marginalized and poor, can be tough as bricks and volatile with pharisees and oppressors.

There has been NOTHING that I've said that suggests ANYTHING like an ends justifies means message. That's more of a type that fits with the Pharisees and oppressors.

And it's about justice and grace. Embrace those.

Craig said...

I've answered your questions again. But it won't matter.

Feodor said...

Do you have the decency to answer my question, Craig? Have you plucked out either or both of your eyes?

Or was Jesus not speaking plain?

Feodor said...

Craig has answered in the negative: “no, I don’t have the decency.” He answered elsewhere, of course, given his instinct for avoidance and dodge. Oddly, he blames me for his fear and anxiety of answering.

Dan Trabue said...

Very well, you finally DID answer the questions. Not again, mind you, but finally.

A. You DO realize that this is the first time you've answered the questions, right?

So, good, you did answer the questions, but you continue to miss the point. Your answers...

"1. Do you recognize that many scholars and groups (including the group I cited which is conservative) view it as obvious that the Traders were oppressing the poor and this specifically angered Jesus?"

Yes, I recognize the fact that "many" people believe this. As you are so fond of saying, that doesn't make your hunch correct. This is an example of a logical fallacy.

No, the answer is simply, Yes, you DO understand that this is a teaching from many scholars. Hell, EVEN THE SCHOLARS you cite I suppose in an attempt to defend your point, whatever it is, recognize that the temple cheats were oppressing the poor.

So, your first word answer was correct. But THEN, you tried to turn it into an attack, as if I had said that "many scholars agree with me, so I am right..." But as even a third grader could tell you, that is NOT what I said. I never made the argument that many scholars agree with me, so I must be right. So, while getting the answer correct, your take away was idiotic and simply factually wrong. A false claim like your brainless leader regularly makes.

"2. What is your explanation for Matthew specifically siding the doves as opposed to the offerings that were purchased by wealthier people?"

In actuality Matthew specifically mentioned the "money changers" and the people "selling doves", so he clearly didn't "single out" the dove people.

Matthew and John both specifically mention those selling doves AND NOT those selling sheep or larger sacrifices. The clear implication is that there was some SPECIFIC problem with overpricing doves. More on that later.*

3. Do you recognize the reality that doves in that day and time where the sacrifice that specifically poor people were purchasing?


Again, your direct answer is correct. But you can't let it lie there, you go on to say...

Do you realize the reality that in your question number 1 that you are engaging in the Bandwagon logical fallacy?

No, I'm not. You're simply factually and stupidly wrong.

B. Do you recognize the reality that I never made this appeal to a bandwagon as "proof" that I was right?

You also went on to make this silly point...

Do you realize that Art pointed out that your Ligonier piece actually doesn't support your hunch as well as you think?

No, Marshall did not. He made that CLAIM, and he is welcome to his opinion, but it's not a rationally solid claim, as you appear to want to think. Your own desire to have your own ears tickled has led you astray.


Dan Trabue said...

* From my point earlier about Jesus and the selling of the doves being the specific problem pointed out by Matthew and John.

As I said, the clear implication is that there was some SPECIFIC problem with overpricing doves.

Why would I make that claim? What if the authors were merely citing one of the animals as a convenient short cut rather than spelling out all the animals? It could be... IF we were to lift this one line out of context of the whole Bible and all of Jesus' teachings.
IF we forget how all the prophets continually identified God as a defender of the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, the orphan, the outcast (hereafter just referred to as "the poor");
if we forget that the oppression of the poor is a common thread throughout the Bible as one of the great wrongs;
if we forget the maltreatment of the poor was "the sin of Sodom," a town so evil it was destroyed;

If we forget that this is a story about Jesus...
The very same Jesus who began his ministry by saying that he'd come to preach good news TO THE POOR:
the same Jesus whose mother celebrated his birth by singing a song about the oppression of the poor and how God would deliver the poor from the rich and powerful oppressors;
the same Jesus who repeatedly warned about the trappings of wealth;
the same Jesus whose brother warned about the wealthy oppressors repeatedly;
the same Jesus who, when John the Baptist was seeking verification that he was The One said, "Go tell John how I have helped the poor...";
the same Jesus who taught his followers to leave behind their money and comfort and come, join his shared wealth community;
the same Jesus who started a church that took care of the poor and lived simply to tend to the needs of the poor;
the same Jesus who warned that being wealthy made it nearly impossible to be part of the Kingdom of God;
the same Jesus who said that you could recognize his followers by the way they treated the poor...

If you RIP that one verse out of all Biblical and Christian and historical and reasonable context... then maybe one could suggest that it was just a fluke that the authors cited the problem of specifically the cheating on the offering of the poor.

But why would we rip that one verse out of context? In an attempt to defend treating the poor with no special concern?

Craig, perhaps the worst, most biblically and rationally despicable thing that you have said in a while was when you suggested about Jesus, "What doesn’t he get really worked up about? His personal safety. The poor and oppressed..."

I don't know if you know this, but Jesus vomited a little bit in his mouth when you uttered that vulgarity.

There are vulgar (culturally crude) words and there are vulgar (disgusting) words. Those words from you are just disgusting and loathsome.

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feodor said...

He cannot answer the plucking out of the eye question.

He thought he had you with “plain sense” approach to scripture. He’s never paid attention to how people actually write and hear/read narrative.

So, while he blames me elsewhere for not being to answer me, he cannot answer here.

Feodor said...

Craig has empty nonsense and zero answers for bravado.

Marshal Art said...

"Hell, EVEN THE SCHOLARS you cite I suppose in an attempt to defend your point, whatever it is, recognize that the temple cheats were oppressing the poor."

No one suggested that the poor weren't being abused. The point is that the abuse of the poor is not the reason for driving out the money changers. It was the manner in which they were conducting what had otherwise been normal, and how that manner defiled the House of God. The poor were in no way the only people being cheated.

"Matthew and John both specifically mention those selling doves AND NOT those selling sheep or larger sacrifices. The clear implication is that there was some SPECIFIC problem with overpricing doves."

"The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”" ---John 2:13-16 New Revised Standard Version

The clear implication was the defiling of the Temple by cheating all who depended upon those providing sacrificial animals and proper coinage.

"No, Marshall did not. He made that CLAIM, and he is welcome to his opinion, but it's not a rationally solid claim, as you appear to want to think."

You have this totally reversed as there is NO rational interpretation of the Ligonier rendering that comes out as you need it to be. You're tickling your own ears by your imposing meaning (as usual) that doesn't exist.