Monday, March 01, 2004

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee Introduction

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me): Finding Grace to Live Unmasked by John Fischer on Amazo


Moderator: "Please respond to as few or as many of my questions as you desire. "

1.) John opened with a powerful paragraph!!! One statement, in particular, jumped-out at me: "Like anyone, I want to be well thought of. I am often conscious, as I am even now, of picking my words carefully, like walking through a minefield of impressions, so as to appear honest while stopping short of the naked truth that might implicate me more than I am willing."

Can you relate to that?

12 steps for the recovering pharisee1. Oh, yes I can! And, I'm the Enneagram's Performer/Achiever – I don't know the difference between what I do and who I am, and my primary Enneagram wing is the Individualist – I am wonderful, special and unique! [But don't come too close because then you just might discover I'm like everyone else in so many ways] Also, as a moderate "E," I get much of my energy (and hope for at least some acclaim) from other people. To paraphrase the Jesuit John Powell, "Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? Because you might not like it and it's all I have!" Of course . . . we could continue with a discourse on Pauline theology, but Powell is right-on concerning our reluctance to self-reveal. And then we consider our holy God's self-revelation in Jesus of Nazareth and wow! God was unafraid and open in His self-revelation in weakness, vulnerability and as one of the "least of these!"

2.) John then describes the encounter which led him to use the "Twelve-Step" recovery model for dealing with this "chronic disease".

Do you believe that the "Twelve-Step" model is appropriate for dealing with this "problem"?

2. As you're aware, I'm trying it!

3.) Have you personally had experiences in dealing with "problems" of various sorts through "12 Step" groups/organizations (share only if you wish to)?

3. In my introduction I mentioned my experience with ACoA and I gotta tell ya, those people whined so incessantly and insistently and when the meeting was over a bunch of them wanted to go to Marie Callender's to continue the meeting! I gave it about 6 months, though, and I found the analysis helpful.

4.)Are you comfortable with John's personal description of "The Old Covenant" and "The New Covenant"?

4.) I agree the standards of the Old Covenant are "impossible to pull off consistently," so we flee to the mercy seat -- Luther (again!) writes so eloquently about the Gnadestuhl of God's grace we find in the crucified and risen One! John Fischer is correct we Christians tend to set our standards high enough to weed out those undesirable "others" but low enough we actually can attain that level. I'd echo what the 12-steppers on this thread have been writing about the New Covenant written on hearts of flesh and again I'll refer to the heart being unsatisfied with "mere works" since we know God searches the heart – the attitude – behind our all-so-necessary works. I love how Ephesians' author pleads that the eyes of our hearts be enlightened, since the eye is so exquisitely sensitive, just as our hearts (depths of our wills) need to be if we're truly to be Christians, "little Christs."

5.) John writes, "The Pharisees enter the picture as the ones who figure out a way to make the Old Covenant work for them, thus making the New Covenant unnecessary." Respond to that statement, in the overall context of his explanation in the rest of that paragraph.

5. Though I haven't read what John Fischer says, I disagree. In giving the New Covenant Jesus never trashed the Old but rather fulfilled it. Our Christian talk about Law is double-edged – Jesus' death and resurrection signaled the end of the sacrificial law, but the Sinai Covenant never ended! As you know, that great theologian of grace, Martin Luther himself, begins his catechism with the 10 commandments! As Anders Nygren says in his Romans commentary, The Gospel According to Paul is about "the inward heart, not satisfied with works!" Because of this, Nygren calls Romans the "purist gospel!" Paul never lost his passion for the Law but he became more acutely aware of the impossibility of fully performing the Law.

6.) React to his "The darkness" explanation on page 11.

6.) React to his "The darkness" explanation on page 11?

Oh yes he has that one right as well! 

7.) In the last paragraph, John writes, "I know, for I am an expert in the downturned look, the haughty eye, the wagging head - and I've had enough of it." Does anybody else here (I sure do) personally deal with the temptation to give "...the downturned look, the haughty eye, the wagging head - "? Are you, too, ready to say "I've had enough of it."?

7. After these past years I'm no longer convinced I'm such an advanced Christian but I feel I've been wrongly judged too many times and I feel my real faults and shortcomings have been ignored. These days I'm more aware everyone is at a different stage of their journey, more aware God brings each of us into situations and among people that best will enable our further spiritual growth. What I need to say "I've had enough of" is my futile attempts to earn my own wholeness, my own shalom, while continuing to do everything I can to care for this world of God's wild passion and tender compassion.

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