Originally posted May 19, 2016
Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
In this the heart of the political season of 2016, we are witnesses to the morphing of old alliances established in the 1960’s: the reconstitution of the Southern Strategy and the Great Society based upon new demographic and geopolitical realities. In this process, it has become clear that the politics of the liberal and conservative branches of the Evangelicals demonstrate both attitudes and commitments that supersede and in some cases put the lie to their doctrinal pronouncements.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees, mentioned by Mark above, were two Jewish religious parties which were instrumental in the unfolding of the history of Israel in the days of Christ. They offer a striking comparison to the liberal and conservative branches of the Evangelicals today and a cautionary tale to those true Christians who which to be conscientious servants of Christ in a highly politicized world.
The Leaven of Hypocrisy
The Pharisees were the conservatives of their day. They were Jewish fundamentalists that held to a strict interpretation of the Law of Moses. In many respects their beliefs were an accurate reflection of that Law, but their doctrine was bereft of the most critical element of Old Testament truth [Romans 10.2]. The Law of Moses pointed to a Person who was the object of all its laws and rituals [Romans 10.4]. These laws pointed the way to salvation, but they were not the way in themselves [Galatians 2.16]. The Pharisees did not believe in God, therefore Jesus identified the leaven of the Pharisees as hypocrisy [Luke 12.1]. This hypocrisy was their outward commitment to a system of religion which, without faith in their Messiah [Christ], was incapable of changing their inward sinful disposition [Matthew 23.13-15]. Therefore these Pharisees became the foremost enemies of Christ, the One to whom their Law pointed.
The Sadducees were the theological liberals of their day. They claimed that they believed the bible, but stripped it of its essential spiritual quality. They denied the existence of angels, miracles and the resurrection of the dead. Although they clothed themselves in the Jewish religion they had no more faith in God than the Pharisees. They opposed the Pharisees upon theological as well as political grounds. The Sadducees consisted of many of the highest priestly caste, who received their positions from Rome. They saw the continuity of their religion, their positions and privileges as due to Rome via Herod and Pilate, the Roman proxies in Palestine. As a consequence, relations with Rome and Herod were cultivated by the Sadducees. The Pharisees, while aloof from Herod and Rome, were not averse to using either in service to their purposes.
The relation of the Pharisees and the Sadducees towards the state [Caesar and Herod] were different but that difference becomes insignificant when compared and contrasted with their spiritual unity against God. When seen in this light, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Rome may be seen as different facets of the same spiritual entity: complementary systems within an overarching empire of spiritual evil. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Rome all eventually worked together to kill Jesus and attempt to eliminate His movement [Matthew 12.14; Luke 19.15; 23.23-25].
The Leaven of the Evangelicals
The example of the Pharisees and Sadducees shed light upon the two doctrinal camps of the evangelicals. The liberal Evangelicals, while assenting to the moral principles of Christianity, are tainted with every form of doctrinal error. They rightly condemn the nation’s hypocritical militarism and international bloodshed in the service of global hegemony. They also convict American society of its persistent racism. Despite this they turn a blind eye [and mouth] to the trends and forces that are undermining the family and gender identity. They are also deaf and blind regarding the atrocity of abortion which is the most successful method of genocide in history.
The conservative Evangelicals hold to most of the essentials of the faith but are also the historical defenders of a social status quo based upon the maintenance of white supremacy in America and around the world. It would be impossible to maintain the current national levels of racial prejudice without the complicit silence of the conservative evangelicals. The conservative evangelicals support all military actions to enforce this strategy regardless of the consequences in terms of lives lost and nations overturned. This social order is supported theologically by pastors and professors of religion; it is advanced by means of a public relations approach that says the right things yet fails to challenge the prejudices of the society or even of its own congregations. In their churches the offering plates are integrated but not their staffs. They consistently support the political candidate which most closely approximates these views of prejudice and world domination, no longer even pretending to make any spiritual or ethical demands upon their nominee.
Like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the conservative and the liberal Evangelicals incorrectly see government as a means [and increasingly as the primary means] to accomplish spiritual ends. Government has been invested by God with neither spiritual responsibilities nor spiritual means. These ends and means have been entrusted to the Church. The inability of these Evangelicals to implement these God given means through the church is evidence of the same lack of relation to God suffered by their Jewish antecedents.
Like the Pharisees and The Sadducees, a right relation to Christ would normalize these extremes to coincide with righteous and true biblical positions. But as the Pharisees and the Sadducees did not represent the true faithful Israelites, so also the conservative and liberal Evangelicals do not represent the true and faithful Christians.
Participation in the political process is a part of the responsibility of citizenship. Christians must bring the light of bible truth to national life through the gospel, but also through their righteous example as spouses, parents, employees and as citizens. There is no Christian political party in America today. To believe that there is one is to engage in a dangerous spiritual self-deception. Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.