Taylorsville church of Christ

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Opinionism



“Oppressively Opinionated.” That is one way to describe the Pharisees in the first century. They had strong opinions about a wide variety of religious issues and did not hesitate to let them be known. Perhaps the biggest problem was that they seemed to blend their opinions with Scripture and bind them on others. They made no distinction between “the word of man” and “the word of God.”


The Pharisees felt they were more conservative and strict than other groups, and that their devotion was second to none. For instance, they fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12) — which was more than the law actually required. Therefore, they knew best. Their opinions could not possibly be wrong and were not to be questioned. This smug mindset manifested itself in their attitude toward others. Most Pharisees had little regard for the man who dared to disagree with them.


The opinionism of the Pharisees can be seen in Matthew 12, when they accused the disciples of working on the Sabbath by plucking grain (even though the law permitted them to do so). It is seen again in Matthew 15, when the Pharisees criticized the disciples for not washing their hands when they ate. In neither case had the disciples sinned, yet the Pharisees condemned them as if they were in sin. Could the same be true of us today?


I have heard brethren speak disparagingly of those who use modern translations of the Bible, put up a Christmas tree in their living room, wear cross charms on their necklace, drink an occasional glass of wine, or let their wives work outside the home. I have also heard brethren criticize congregations for not having longer sermons, for not having two services on Sunday, for not using “Church of Christ” on the sign, for not requiring the sisters to wear dresses during worship, or for having a steeple on the roof of the church building. Sadly, I have been guilty of such “oppressive opinionism” myself!


Christians must be careful to guard against opinionism. Regardless of how strongly we may feel about something, we do not want to bind our opinions on others. When we do, we are no better than the Pharisees. May God help us to have the humility necessary to distinguish between preference and precept!