Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

Overzealous faith has a dark side. And sometimes Christians, despite best intentions, end up pursuing an overzealous model of faith that ends up sabotaging the work of the Lord. (17)
The zeal is not the problem. We are to be zealous for the Lord. “The problem is unaligned spiritual passion, a zeal for the Lord that fails to line up with the totality of Scripture.” (18)
Accidental Pharisees don't set out to be that way. They just end up there.

Osborne begins by looking at what a Pharisee is and what it means to be one. Then he investigates how one becomes a Pharisee, identifying the early warning signs, becoming confident in one's own righteousness and looking down on others. He also offers techniques for parents and spiritual leaders to make sure they do not foster that Pharisaical dark side.
He turns some of the current buzz words (such as radical, missional, New Testament Christianity) on their heads. He brings reality to those concepts.
Using Joseph of Arimathea as an example, Osborne wonders if any of us has the absolute devotion we think we do, even those “who trumpet such devotion as the only acceptable mark of genuine discipleship.” (36)
He tackles seven issues:
Pride (when comparison becomes arrogance)
Exclusivity (keeping the riffraff out)
Legalism (Pharisees love a litmus test)
Idolizing the past (blind to the beauty of the present)
Uniformity (it's not biblical unity)
Gift projection (everyone should be called as I am)

There are discussion questions for each of the seven sections. This book would make a great choice for a small group of a Sunday School class.

Beware. You are bound to find your self in this book. I did.
I think just about every Christian will find some correction in this book too.
Are you a “jerk for Jesus”? Read this book!

Larry Osborne is a teaching pastor at North Coast Church in northern San Diego County. Osborne speaks extensively on leadership and spiritual formation. He has written several books. He and his wife live in Oceanside, California. Find out more at

Zondervan, 197 pages

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