Most pastors, especially Evangelical and Southern Baptist pastors and leaders, have absolutely no idea what Jesus’s relationship to the Pharisees in Judaism was. Most will tell you that Jesus constantly rebuked them for their legalism and then will compare Christians today who hold doctrinal integrity to a high standard to these legalists.
Let’s look at one passage, an example from our Pharisee Card article, Matthew 23:23:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Here, Jesus does not rebuke them for tithing from their spice rack. He rebukes them for not being legalistic enough. They ought to have been tithing from their mint, dill, and cumin – but they were following only part of God’s law and not all of it. And although we are not under the ceremonial law of Moses, we are under God’s moral law as the spirit of his revealed righteousness. Calling someone a ‘pharisee’ because they strive for personal holiness is rebuking them for something for which Jesus never rebuked the Pharisees.
That’s just one example; it’s a case in point.
Yes, The Pharisees were legalistic, but it wasn’t their legalism that landed them in hot water. It was their false teaching and hypocrisy. Essentially, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being false teachers—for distorting the gospel and teaching a false way of salvation.
Yet, leave it to mainstream Evangelicals to, once again, misuse the text and twist a passage, just like the Pharisees did, to turn the entire point of Jesus’s rebuke to them over on those “discernment bloggers” and other conservative Christians and leaders they don’t like.
In his sermon today, Ed Litton preached compared conservative and Reformed Christians to the “Pharisees” that Jesus rebuked and called them “sin police.” Of course, it was the conservative and Reformed Christians who most ferociously opposed him while he repeatedly made excuses for his serial plagiarism. While he seemed as though he truly felt remorse for his actions after he apparently apologized and said he was thankful for being exposed because it led him to repent, it seems he’s still trying to cover his tracks here.
Currently, Litton is still serving as Southern Baptist president until his term ends in June. He will not be seeking a second term.