Sunday, March 24, 2013

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

           For those who have been believers in Jesus Christ and have been a part of a structured church for any length of time, it can be very easy to quickly assess how spirituality is measured and who's at the top of the 'pecking order', whether written rules for the system exist or even if they don't. One of the dangers in entering any such church system is that we can accidentally impose our definition of what it means to be 'spirtual' on everyone else around us, and thereby become a modern day Pharisee. And this is only a small part of what author Larry Osborne addresses in his book, Accidental Pharisees.
           Larry Osborne is the Pastor of North Coast Church in San Diego, California. He is a seasoned Pastor, author and church leader. And, as he openly confesses throughout the book, he has been guilty at times of being an accidental Pharisee. However, the book offers hope for those who are caught in the same traps he experienced, and it gives vital illustrations of the behavior so prevalent in many Christians that lend to fostering this faith debilitating condition.
           When you first hear the title and recognize the subject matter, you might be tempted to think "good, a lot of people need to hear this". However, after reading through only a few pages, you will be more inclined to muse "wow, I really need to hear this". Because,  the author goes beyond the mere modern conceptions of a Pharisee's behavior and examines the attitudes so prevalent in all of us that can threaten our relationship with God and others when not properly kept in check.
           The book has 7 different sections, each addressing one of the areas where we can unintentionally move toward Pharisee like behavior. Addressing issues such as pride, exclusivity, legalism and idolizing the past, Pastor Larry works at exploring not only the ways can exhibit these tendencies, but also the scriptural proof texts used to support them, in addition to the verses typically avoided by those who practice these positions.
           I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Joseph of Arimathea, the disciple nobody wants to be. It explores our definitions of what we think is acceptable, verses what God thinks is acceptable. And I have to admit that although I was looking forward to reading this book, I had to go 'ouch' at several parts of it...which can making reading somewhat uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I was able to finish the book rather quickly and I found it to be an important addition to my 'glad I read that' list.
              This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at . I debated whether or not to give it 5 stars or just 4. I mean, after all, I was convicted at times and I thought books were supposed to be just for pleasure, not for study, personal application (did I mention the discussion questions at the end of each chapter?) and growth. Isn't that just for everybody else? No, I decided to give the book a 5 star rating, because if you're anything ike the rest of us, you may discover by reading it that there are areas you too can adjust to become more like Jesus and less like an accidental Pharisee.

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