Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pharisees and Republicans, Pt 1

In the first century of the Common Era the small client state of Judea was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Judea’s major importance to Rome was as a land bridge between Egypt, Rome’s bread basket, and Asia Minor, (modern Turkey), where some of its greatest cities were located.

The religious and political parties in Judea were intertwined and in a sense they were one and the same. There were several of these religious-political parties, but the ones that have come down to us as important are the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the aristocratic descendants of Zadok, the high priest of King David’s day, and the principal components of the party of the priest in the first century. In the New Testament, the Sadducees are mentioned only lightly and usually in conjunction with the Pharisees.

We know a lot more about the Pharisees, mainly because of their conflict with Jesus of Nazareth, a rabbi from Galilee. This in no wise indicates that Jesus found common cause with the Sadducees and a social and theological untenable situation with their rivals, the Pharisees. It does mean that he had pronounced conflict with the Pharisees and that a record is left for history to examine and make parallels to contemporary groups.

While Jesus did condemned the Sadducees, this condemnation is not at the level of the condemnation that he leveled at the Pharisees (comp. Matt. 16:1,11-12; Matt.23). An examination of the Gospels will reveal that Jesus had four particular areas of conflict with the Pharisees. I think that if we look at them we will see parallels to today’s religious party in America.

1. Jesus’ first problem with the Pharisees is that they did not practice what they preached (Matt. 23: 1-3). They were the kind of people who preached “family values” but did not practice them. They were people like:

  • Rep. Jon Hinson (A Republican Congressman from Mississippi.) On Aug. 8, 1980, during his first reelection bid, Hinson stunned everyone by announcing that in 1976 he had been accused of committing an obscene act at a gay haunt in Virginia. Hinson, married and a strong conservative, added that in 1977 he had survived a fire in a gay D.C. movie theater. He was making the disclosure, he said, because he needed to clear his conscience. But he denied he was a homosexual and refused GOP demands that he resign. Hinson won reelection in a three-way race, with 39 percent of the vote. But three months later, he was arrested on charges of attempted oral sodomy in the restroom of a House office building. He resigned his seat on April 13, 1981, (
  • Rep. Robert Bauman, (resigned October 3, 1980), a Republican Congressman from Maryland, a leading "pro-family" conservative, pleaded innocent to a charge that he committed oral sodomy on a teenage boy in Washington. Married and the father of four, Bauman conceded that he had been an alcoholic but had been seeking treatment. The news came as a shock to voters of the rural, conservative district, and he lost to a Democrat in November (
  • Senator Robert Packwood , (resigned October 1, 1995), Republican Senator from Oregon, resigned his office before expulsion, after 29 women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assaults. His claims of no wrongdoing were eventually contradicted by his own lurid diaries boasting of his sexual conquests (Sexual Scandals in Politics, Wikipedia).
  • Senator David Durenberger, a Republican Senator from Minnesota, denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions (1990)and then disbarred. In 1995 he pled guilty to misuse of public funds and given one years probation (Sexual Scandals in Politics, Wikipedia).
  • Senator Jesse Helms Senator, a Republican Senator from, Signed an admission of guilt for election tampering in 1990 but was never prosecuted (Sexual Scandals in Politics, Wikipedia).
  • Mark Foley, (resigned September 26, 2006), a Republican Congressman from Florida, who sent sexually explicit e-mails to teenage boys who had formerly served as congressional pages. Foley was chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which introduced legislation targeting sexual predators and created stricter guidelines for tracking them (Mark Foley Scandal, Wikipedia).
  • Newt Gingrich, (resigned November 6, 1998), a Republican Congressman from Georgia, abruptly resigned his seat after it became apparent that his sexual relationship with a younger woman from a House colleague's staff was about to be exposed. Such a revelation no doubt would be of interest to Gingrich's wife (his second), and it might make the Speaker and the Republicans appear slightly hypocritical since they had spent the better part of a year excoriating Clinton's "character" for his extramarital relationship with Monica Lewinsky (“On the Eight Anniversary of President Clinton’s Impeachment,") Joseph A. Polermo, Huffington Post, Posted December 19, 2006)
  • Congressman Robert Livingston, (resigned December 19, 1998), a Republican from Louisiana, and Speaker of the House-Designate, abruptly resigned his seat in Congress and the Speaker’s Chair because it was about to be revealed that he was doing the same thing with one of his staff members as he was about to impeach President Clinton for: having an adulterous sexual affair with a consenting adult (See Polermo, above).
  • Congressman David Vitter, a Republican Congressman of Louisiana, replaced Robert Livingston, A phone number for Sen. David Vitter, R-La., appear. at least five times in the billing records of what federal authorities say was a Washington call-girl operation, the first just four months after he was sworn in to the U.S. House in 1999 and the last on Mardi Gras of 2001. Under pressure earlier this week, Vitter acknowledged committing a "very serious sin" and that his number showed up in the records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who has come to be known as the "Washington, D.C. Madam." An attorney for Palfrey earlier said that Vitter's number was found once in the records, but a search of the documents by The Times-Picayune turned up four more calls to a number once registered to Vitter. The attorney said that clients also used phones in hotel rooms, so that not all the numbers can be traced to individual callers (, “Vitter had five calls with D.C. Madam” Posted by Keith I. Marszalek July 11, 2007).

This is a partial list of the hypocrisy of these modern day Pharisees. The problem is that these leaders do exactly what Jesus said: “They tie up heavy loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matt. 23: 4, NIV). This is the germ of hypocrisy: to preach to people about what they should do and not do and then to practice the opposite of what you preach. This is what the Pharisees did, and this is what people in the Conservative Right Republican base do with regularity.

This blog doesn’t presume that Democrats or other political/religious parties do not commit sin or have transgressions in their lives. The purpose of this writing (and that which will follow over the next several days) is to show that the people, who beat the drums the loudest about morality, are not only the practitioners of that which they say they are against, but they are also the people who are the least concerned about justice.

It’s easy to lay out rules for moral behavior; it’s not so easy to work for justice. I believe that God is in love with justice, not a bunch of rules that even Pharisees can obey.

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Blogger Keith D. Witherspoon said...

Excellent post Casson. Once again you have given us much to think about.

October 20, 2008 at 5:14 AM  
Blogger Anders Branderud said...

I want to comment about “Matthew 23:1-3”:

Le-havdil, Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth taught this in NHM 23:1-3:
”Then Yehoshua spoke to the qehilot and to his talmidim saying, ”The Sophrim and those of the Rabbinic-Perushim sect of Judaism who advocate that Halakhah must be exclusively oral sit upon the bench of Mosheh. So now, keep shomeir and do concering everything – as much as they shall tell you! Just don’t imitate their maaseh because they say but they don’t do.”
The Rabbinic-Perushim taught that one should follow the mitzwot (directive or military-style orders), and Ribi Yehoshua taught that one should listen to that. The Rabbinic-Perushim advocated Halakhah (oral Torah).

The problem is that most people fail to distinguish between the historical Ribi Yehoshua and his pro-Torah-teachings; and the redacted “gospels” of Christianity.
A logical analysis (found in ( is the website of the only legitimate Netzarim-group)) of all extant source documents and archeology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

The original words of the pro-Torah teacher Ribi Yehoshua were redacted by Roman Hellenists, and the redaction is found in the “gospels”. J…. is described in the “gospels”, and le-havdil the teachings of the historical Torah-teacher Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth are found in the reconstruction (using a logical and scientific methodology to create the reconstruction), Netzarim Hebrew Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM).

The historical Jew Ribi Yehoshua is not the same as the Christian "J...." The historical Ribi Yehoshua was a human.
Anders Branderud

May 26, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

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