Summary: Overcoming Pharisaic tendencies in our quest for holiness.

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"Holiness: Heresy & Heritage"

"Holiness: Holy Mess, Batman!"

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20 (RSV)

Batman & Robin

Sticky, confusing predicaments would warrant "holy ‘’ Batman"

Any discussion of Holiness must by its very definition confront the issue of legalism


Has plagued Christianity from the beginning; even affecting us today


-some fight against it’s rules; want Christianity out of public life

-Christian ethics are viewed as "narrow" or "closed minded" or "prudish"


-feuds, divisions

-homosexuals in church

in leadership

in marriage



-birth control

-role of women in ministry

"Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your hearing this day, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them." Deuteronomy 5:1 (RSV)

Arises out of confusion

-What commands do we follow?

-Which were for Israel only?

-Which were culturally based

-sacrifice of animals; today we would think of Satanism or Voodoo

-To what degree do we follow the commands?

In the face of so many questions we are left confused and overwhelmed. Like Robin we can only respond, "Holy Mess, Batman!"

-if only we had some gizmo from our utility belt to help us along

It’s been said that we should study history to learn from our mistakes. By observing the faults of the past we can secure a better future.


[Achtemieier, Paul, Gen Ed. Harpers Bible Dictionary. (HarperSanFrancisco, 1985). Pharisees, pp. 782-783.

Hauer, Christian & Young, William. An Introduction To The Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds. (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1990). pp. 191-213.

Reasoner, Vic. "How To Be A Pharisee". The Arminian Magazine, Spring 1994. Http://]

-our initial thoughts:







Alexander the Great

-Hellenist -all things Greek; all things to become Greek

-333 BC conquered Palestine

-established Greek culture

temples, theaters, gymnasia, stadia, libraries, dwellings

190 BC Rome takes control

Greek culture remains strong

NT, written 200 years later in Greek

Antiochus Epiphanes

-name means "God (Zeus) manifest"; our word Epiphany

-power hungry

-tries to take Egypt


-takes it out on Jews

-entered Temple

-slaughtered innocent people

-looted temple

-converts temple to Pagan worship

Matthew 24:15

-offered pig on the alter to Zeus

-outlaws customary Jewish practices

For over a century Hellenism has been taking over. Now it could no longer be



-nationalistic spiritual fervor arose

-lay movement

-name means "separated ones"

-heroes of the faith

"centered on observance of the Torah...The keeping of Torah therefore was not a legalistic quest for the favor of a coldly demanding God, but a response to the goodness of a loving Father. To keep a commandment, the Pharisees taught, was a joy, not a burden." [Hauer, Christian & Young, William. An Introduction To The Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds. (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1990). p. 212.]

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