Religious liberalism began with the scribes and the Pharisees, appealing to those who only want to do and believe what is right in their own eyes, without repentance. Religious liberalism boils down to honoring man’s reason above God’s Word. The foremost danger signal put up by pseudo-Christian leaders who hold to “Liberal Christianity” is their utmost disregard and disdain for God’s Word.
Every Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for convincing, for correction of error, and for instruction in right doing; so that the man of God may himself be complete and may be perfectly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 WNT
Although popular media would have us believe Liberal Christianity is a valid alternative to traditional Christianity, a current Barna research poll of Americans shows otherwise. In fact, “the vast majority of households own at least one Bible (87%)”.
After He had proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom for about 3 years, Jesus went back to Jerusalem and revealed Himself as King, cleansed the Temple and told the scribes and Pharisees, “God’s Kingdom will be taken away from you, and will be given to a nation producing its fruit.”
1 When they came near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Yeshua sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying,
- 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
- behold, your King comes to you,
- humble, and riding on a donkey,
- on a colt, the foal of a donkey. [Zechariah 9:9]” Matthew 21:1-5
12 Yeshua entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ [Isaiah 56:7] but you have made it a den of robbers! [Jeremiah 7:11]” Matthew 21:12-13
Kretzmann makes an interesting observation about the cleansing of the Temple.
Originally, every person that wanted to bring a sacrifice to the Temple took the animal from his own herd or flock. But in the course of time there was a change made, chiefly due to the various restrictions as to the fitness of the various animals. The Jewish officials in Jerusalem took advantage of the situation by starting a market right at the Temple-gates and in the Temple-courts. There were the various sacrificial animals, such as bullocks, sheep, goats, doves, and others, all guaranteed to measure up to the standard of Levitical purity. And since this business involved a good deal of money-changing, a formal bank business had developed within a stone’s throw of the holy place. A strange scene: The lowing of the cattle, the bleating of the sheep and lambs, the cooing of the doves, the cry of the venders, the clink of money, — all this in the place which was sacred to the name of God. Add to this the fact that the priests were often deriving benefit from this arrangement by drawing down a nice percentage for the concession, as Luther says, and we have a picture of commercialism in the Church such as can hardly be duplicated, although it has more than once been equaled in the Church. “Avarice covered with the veil of religion is one of those things on which Christ looks with the greatest indignation in His Church. Merchandise of holy things, simoniacal presentations, fraudulent exchanges, a mercenary spirit in sacred functions; ecclesiastical employments obtained by flattery, service, or attendance, or by anything which is instead of money; collations, nominations, and elections made through any other motive than the glory of God; these are all fatal and damnable profanations, of which those in the Temple were only a shadow.”
42 Yeshua said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,
- ‘The stone which the builders rejected
- was made the head of the corner.
- This was from the Lord.
- It is marvelous in our eyes’? [Psalm 118:22-23]
43 “Therefore I tell you, God’s Kingdom will be taken away from you, and will be given to a nation producing its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it will fall, it will scatter him as dust.” Matthew 21:42-44
A few days later, Jesus warned the multitudes and His disciples about the religious leaders who were not disciples in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 13:51-52).
Jesus didn’t mince words in describing their error, the heavy burdens they placed on the people, their disregard for Scripture and their proud ways. Today, we see many in Christianity who are not disciples in the Kingdom of Heaven but share the same ways as the scribes and Pharisees.
1 Then Yeshua spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, 2 saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. 3 All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. 5 But they do all their works to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments, 6 and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi by men. Matthew 23:1-7
Then Jesus commanded the multitudes and His disciples not to follow their example.
8 But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your Rabbi, the Messiah, and all of you are brothers. 9 Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Messiah. 11 But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12
The woes Jesus pronounced on the scribes and Pharisees
Jesus pronounced the following woes on the scribes and Pharisees, knowing they had enough clout to have Him crucified by the Romans. As you read the woes, you see they were guilty of many travesties. Their primary travesty was unrepentance. Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and calling for repentance.
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 NASB
The scribes and Pharisees didn’t repent. They crucified Jesus (Acts 2:36).
Note the similarities of the travesties of the scribes and Pharisees with the travesties of liberal Christianity. And note the consequences they incur.
13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
14 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you don’t enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering in to enter.
This passage of denunciations does not represent a mere opinion of Jesus, but it is the judgment of the Holy One of God upon people that were making all religion a mockery and a pretense. The “Woe!” signifies the eternal fire of hell; that will be their punishment, as Luther says. In their hypocrisy, their acting, they have reached a point where they are deceiving themselves as well as others. They pretend, with a great show of zeal, to be opening the doors of heaven to their fellow-men, by teaching them the way of self-righteousness, salvation by works. But in doing so, they actually shut the doors or gates of heaven in their faces. They thought that they were sure of heaven and had but to enter whenever they chose, but they only deceived themselves, and are now deceiving others and keeping them from entering. Kretzmann
15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Gehinnom as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, you blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obligated?’ 19 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 He therefore who swears by the altar, swears by it, and by everything on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him who has been living in it. 22 He who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the Torah: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and unrighteousness. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the platter, that its outside may become clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Therefore you testify to yourselves that you are children of those who killed the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehinnom? 34 Therefore behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Most certainly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! 38 Behold, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now on, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Matthew 23:13-39
On the Day of Pentecost, a little more than 50 days later Peter declared:
36 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Yeshua whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the emissaries, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be immersed, every one of you, in the name of Yeshua the Messiah for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 40 With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
41 Then those who gladly received his word were immersed. There were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:36-41
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from the World Messianic Bible WMB