The End of Phariseeism (Updated)
By Fred Pruitt
(The bulk of this below was written probably in 2001, inspired by the Billy Graham Crusade that came to Louisville that year. Later I dusted it off and redid it for my now defunct website, and later reposted it to my blog in 2010. Mr. Graham’s passage to glory reminded me of it this morning, so I got it out again and am posting yet another revision. I know some of what I say will seem to some to be off-kilter from the standard “truth” we know in Christ. Maybe this will help. This is not dogma I am writing. I’m not meaning this for a theological manual. I don’t really want to characterize myself to be on an equal level [I’m certain I am not], with some of the more mystical writers of ages past, both Protestant and Catholic, but it’s the only way to describe what this piece is. It is the difficulty of the mystic, who “SEES” the things of God which are essentially indescribable, sometimes to put these sights into a practical framework of words that make sense in our outer world. That is why they are so often misunderstood by so many in the church and why many were persecuted by the brethren in the past and the present as well. So my request to the reader is to see these things in that light, if possible, and to realize none of this is a statement against any of the great building block doctrines of the faith. It is rather, on my part, as I saw and experienced it, a very imperfect description of the veracity and overwhelming outflow of His unbounded Love in His capacity as described by William Law, “The Eternal Will to all Goodness.” It is somewhat in the sense of Juliana of Norwich, who wrote over and over at the instigation of the Lord [she said], and I believe, that “All manner of things shall be well.”)
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (Rev 21:3-6)
Oneness with Christ wipes away Phariseeism. When the veil is gone, we find that we are not only ONE with God, but we are ONE with all our brothers and sisters in Christ as well, and that is potentially everybody. In Christ, to find “oneness” finds our individuality in right harmony with all the other “individualities.” ALL are one in Him, as the One Person manifesting Himself through all the myriads of created existence.
“Phariseeism” means, “I’m not like those other guys.” In other words, those “other guys” over there are not “me,” and therefore “I” have nothing to do with whoever “they” are. It means they are over there and I am over here, and since I have my vantage point, which of course is better than their vantage point over there, then “I’m not like those other guys,” becomes my motto and justification for self separated unto itself, holding itself aloof lest it might be “tainted” by something or someone “unclean.”
It’s taken me a long time to really love the Pharisees. They were such jerks, always giving Jesus a hard time and being hardhearted and worrying about healing on the Sabbath. BAD Pharisees!!!
But I have a kinder view of them now. I’ve made peace with them, we might say.
God BLESS the Pharisees!!!
I certainly have sojourned in the land of the Pharisees. It certainly crosses my mind: “I’m not like those other guys.”
But oneness with Christ (and all with whom He is “one”) swallows that up and says to me: “You ARE those guys!”
I say, “But Lord, my eyes are too pure to behold evil. I cannot think such a thing.”
“You ARE those people!” says the Lord. Their thoughts are your thoughts. Their mind is your mind. What they experience, you experience. You ARE “those” people!
“But Lord” ….
”You ARE those people ….”
A few years ago they held the Billy Graham Crusade when we were living in Louisville KY. It was nothing but wonderful for Louisville, because it stirred the entire community. For weeks ahead of the Crusade they ran advertisements, billboards all over town, and the TV stations started doing all kinds of special reports and interviews and discussions about Christ. It was unbelievable, how the gospel of Christ became a major point of conversation all over Louisville, positive or negative. I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful thing just that alone was.
I got to attend one night, and there was no doubt of genuine movement of the Spirit. The actual Crusade services were technically masterful but simple in presentation, and Billy said the same wonderful, wonderful thing he has always said, that to find our “life,” we find it hidden in Christ.
At the altar call, they came by the hundreds, streaming down from every part of the stadium, moved by the simple cry of a weak and failing voice, lacking the strength it once had, yet exuding Another Strength, a Voice within a voice, calling His sheep to His pasture, and they individually “heard” His voice and came to His call, where they were met and told, “You shall find rest unto your souls.”
The TV news ran a report one night of the Crusade, about a group of demonstrators outside the stadium. They were a group of “Christians,” mostly all from one church nearby, who were carrying placards saying “God hates fags” and others denouncing Billy Graham’s departure from their ideas of fundamentalist basics.
When I saw the placards saying “God hates fags,” it made me angry and made me want to go to a gay bar and say, “I’m with YOU guys!”
Ah, but, here is the rub. At the same time I saw that I am as much the “fag-hatin’ Christians,” as I AM the gay guys!
To end Phariseeism is to understand myself to be as much one as the other and YET over and above and beyond all that, is the unbounded Reality of Him Who IS ALL in all, working everything after the counsel of His own will.
To end Phariseeism is to have opened eyes to the lack of separateness between myself and my brothers and sisters. We are one person. When my brother shoots up heroin across town, it is into My Body he injects it. I am living in the grief and sorrow of his acts, and cannot separate myself from them. I AM that junkie! I can claim no glory that “i’m” on this side of town, not shooting up. What goes on “over there” occurs “in here.” In ME.
Therefore knowing my depths as “junkie,” “swindler,” “liar,” “fornicator,” “whore” and “Pharisee,” the Life again swallows up the death …. ALL is resolved in Him, who is ALL in all.
Oneness means that there can be no more judgment of our brothers because the old saying, “There but for the grace of God go I,” changes to “There go I!” It works death in me, but life outpoured for others, since “mortality is swallowed up of life.”
In this destruction of Phariseeism – i.e., “I’m apart from others” – I am thus FREED to love ALL in God. God is no respecter of persons, and neither are we.
To end Phariseeism is to “love my neighbor as I love myself” because I see that “my neighbor” is my self. What happens to him happens to me. Because Christ is in me, I cannot escape the sorrow and sin of the world, because they are still in the world and Jesus has called on us to be Who He is, an outpoured life completely spent for others.
Remember, He found us and raised us and cleansed us while we were still in our own minds His enemies! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10)
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
If anyone wants to read another in this vein, check out the link below. The core of it was written at the same time as this one, in 2001.
It’s called, “A Flurry of I AMs 2017” – https://thesingleeye.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/a-flurry-of-i-ams-2017/