Why Abuse Victims and Real Christians MUST Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
As we are presenting a series of articles on the religion of the Pharisees, I felt the need to remind our readers why we are doing this. The leaven of the Pharisees has infected our churches, and it is largely because of this that victims of abuse are suffering as they are at the hands of their fellow Christians. So this study is no mere academic exercise or history lesson. It is in obedience to our Lord’s command that we beware of this leaven. Everywhere we turn, we seem to find it. Oh yes, lots of Christians will say this is exaggeration and a virtual conspiracy paranoia. But not those Christians who are suffering or have suffered abuse, and have tried to obtain rescue from their churches.
Listen to this passage from Malachi in which the Lord rebukes the priests (you might say, the “preachers / pastors” of that day) —
Malachi 2:4-9 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. (5) My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. (6) True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. (7) For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (8) But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, (9) and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”
As we are going to learn, the religion of the Pharisees does exactly these things that Malachi is rebuking the priests for. Today, church leaders are largely not serving as the messenger of the Lord. They have turned aside from the way of Christ, and they are causing people to stumble. Central to their distortion of their calling, they show partiality in their instruction.
Think about it. WHY are the innocent and oppressed being dealt injustice in their churches? Why are abusers consistently being enabled and sided with? What in the world is going on? Malachi says it is partiality. And that partiality is to the one who has power and resources and a smooth, lying tongue. How is this partiality to the wicked man expressed? Malachi says it is in their instruction. It is in the sermons preached, the lessons taught, the Scriptures cited, the books written – that this partiality is spread through our churches. Our people stumble at it. The preachers and elders and teachers of our churches are not turning people FROM iniquity, as Levi once did, but rather are teaching them that they are justified in that iniquity.
Is that exaggeration? Is the condition of today’s typical evangelical church really that bad? Yes! Yes it is! And in fact, it is probably much worse than we have stated here.
As always, how Christians respond to the plight of the abuse victim in their midst reveals the truth or the lie of their theology. Most of the time today, it reveals a lie. And that is why we all need to learn the religion of the Pharisee very, very well – so we recognize it when we see it, and reject it for what it is.