The Good and Honorable Pharisees

If Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson had been New Testament scholars instead of country music singers, they probably would have used a different word than “cowboys” in their Grammy Award winning duet of an Ed and Patsy Bruce ballad.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Amen to this portent and timely article. ‘We, in the orchestra, must keep emphasizing the GOOD and HONORABLE nature, mission, and music of the genuine, ALL-embracing story of CHRIST’S presence in our world.’ Christ is waiting with a longing desire to see His character manifested in us. It starts with ME.


Thank you so much for sharing the view you see here, Stuart. What an insightful sense of church leadership opportunities and pitfalls. And what amazing patterns you find for us in the lives of Nicodemus and Gamaliel.

It is those who embrace their fears for the church who do by far the most harm to not only members but to the church itself. It has always been. How to support them through their fears is such a challenge.

Your book, Searching for the God of Grace, is such an encouragement, especially now within Seventh-day Adventism.

Many thanks.


Paul would seem to break this rule in I Cor 5 and in other places. Even Jesus was authoritative on occasion.

Leaders are not to be authoritative, and then Gamaliel stand and authoritatively advises? I thought authority was bad?

I assume this essay is a criticism of our present leadership, TW, so will make a few observations.

  1. A conclave was called to study this issue. The TSOC or whatever. it could not come to a consensus. So what should be done? In the past, the church had voted this issue, and the NAD had requested a change in policy be made. Since there was no consensus, something had to be done about the request.
  2. TW could have ruled authoritatively, allowing the NAD to do as it wished. But would this have been fair to those opposed? To do it would have been exercising kingly power don’t you think?
  3. So he did as the other leadership had done, said there would be a vote. WO advocates were happy, and campaigned vigorously for their view.
  4. Now TW is blamed for all the turmoil. But it was the church that voted and not TW.

I think that is a bit of a slanted view.

Stuart, this is music to my ears. Your words ring notes of hope, breadth, discernment, and courage in a time of dejection, insularity, fatuity, and slippery cowardice.

Martin Luther and later Martin Luther King, Jr. stepped out of their fallible shoes to walk the path of protest–the same path blazed by Jesus. May we also be humble and intrepid Protestants.


Thank you, Allen, for your thoughtful response to my devotional. May I ask you a couple of questions to help me better understand your viewpoint?

I wonder if you consider the New Testament criticism of the Pharisees to be “a bit of a slanted view”? Or do you believe that the condemnation was warranted? I could only think of those two exceptions to the frequent denunciations. Did I miss some examples?

I agree with you that leaders utilize their authority on a daily basis. But would you rather have a leader “identified,” known for, distinguished by that leader’s authority or the leader’s service? In studying for the article it seemed to me that Jesus’ teaching on this was supremely clear (Matthew 23, Luke 22).

And finally, do you disagree that “the lovely, inclusive story of Jesus working in and through the rich variety of the church community” is a better face to show to the world than a story about leadership and policy? Or do you prefer another perspective than the one that holds that its up to those of us in “the orchestra” to keep emphasizing the beautiful music of our faith community?

Thanks for helping me better understand the points you’re making.


Oh, yes! Beautifully stated. We have a rich community in the orchestra with a rich variety of gifts to play differing instruments in differing localities.

Thanks for this important and beautiful point.

AND TO @ajshep

I think you are onto something with this comment:

“The rest of the world is tired of the West” --@ajshep

I believe this is at the very center of the issue–WO is just one of
many policies, programs, initiatives, directives, and other myriad
things to come down from “on high” Washington and the G.C. I sense this
is the rebellion against the rich West and one way to actually exert
some control and perhaps even “punish” those who have constantly sent
imperatives their way.

In this case, punishing the NAD for its “Westernism” and pushing its
cultural “women in leadership” down their throats. Just perhaps the
funding that has come through the years is a bit resented, but the
directives even more so.

Ted’s “let-each-decide” initiative to get both sides off the hook
failed to materialize leaving frustration in the Western and European
fronts and “it’s about time we had a voice” in the rest of the church.

Just an observation from perhaps ten years ago, maybe a theory that
helps me understand what caused tension in the first place. Perhaps it
had nothing originally to do with WO.


Kind of you to respond. To your questions:

I think the criticism of the pharisees was not slanted. I was referring to the implied criticism of TW’s administration. Not that it has been perfect, but takes more heat than probably warranted.

Those effected by the leader form an opinion of him/her based on their experience, or perception. TW is a case in point. He is being criticized because of the vote at SA, and the recent paper adopted by the GC. He is seen as authoritative by those who are the focus of the issue at hand. So authoritarianism can be in the eye of the beholder rather than the leaders heart, or both for that matter.

Of course the first is best, what kind of a question is this? The wording even points to the answer you are looking for!

Our faith community is divided. The church over the last 40 years has developed into two camps, those more liberal favoring WO and other changes and the more traditional favoring the opposite. Wishing to have “the lovely inclusive story of Jesus working through…” would be nice, but is not the reality of the situation. One side is not all sweetness and light while the other is total darkness either.

Conflict happens even in the best of circumstances. Wishing it away won’t make it disappear.

And I am not hearing such beautiful music. TW is accused of manipulation, and multitudes of other sins. How can there be beautiful music when the orchestra leader is condemned as an authoritative power hungry manipulator? I am not sure that all he has done has been correct, but I do know that leadership is tough. A bit of understanding goes a long way. But those favoring WO (the camp I sense you favor) will have none of it.

I understand the frustration of the WO folk. 40 yrs and still a NO. Could TW have handled it differently? I suspect. But I am not sure it would have worked. The rest of the world is tired of the West’s constant harping on this matter, especially when they are contributing almost no growth to the church, and act as if the rest must cow tow to them. There was and is hubris. i think that was more the problem than TW. Or at least the two issues clashed.

I don’t think the church is going to have beautiful music for a while, but more cacophony. Sorry my post is so long.


Stuart, you are a master of words. Nice devotional, a very necessary one for our convoluted days in the Church that calls itself “The Remnant.” It’s actually a reading that brings us peace, understanding that we can be a good crowd, good musicians, DESPITE a leadership that would rather follow their own controlling agenda than respecting the crowd. When the crowd “dares” to manifest itself, it is threatened by its leader (TW) with “grave consequences.” A Nikolaustic style of governance! How can this happen in a Christian Church?..

Question for Stuart: What were actually the final consequences resulting from the tension between the crowd and the Pharisees? At the end of the day, who did actually prevail?

Only a person who fully understands GRACE could have written a piece like this. Thanks for your great book on Grace. It’s a “must read” for anyone who wants to understand salvation better.

Edit: Stuart, I hope you will come to meet us in the LOUNGEgate, where anyone can participate and post more than just one restricted comment like here in the ONEgate. I bet @JaredWright already gave you immediate access, since you are the author of the article. Anyone else can access too, but @JaredWright has to authorize first.


Allen, your reaction to the article is ludicrous. But I am glad you wrote your comments. Because I read Stuart’s article without connecting it to our days or our leadership. Just a nice article in itself… :wink: But then, you jumped into it and immediately establishes a very accurate parallel with the condition of our Church at this very moment. You are a genius! How did I miss it?

But you are right, the parallel is perfect. At least YOU made it fit perfectly. No wonder you reacted negatively to it. Despite being a physician and a pastor, you have always fought those who condemn the discrimination of women in our Church. Stuart didn’t even touch the subject, but instinctively you had to create some additional “dots” and then connect them all. Thanks for the new insight! Good job!

I can only imagine how ETERNITY will be for people who kept the Church under their autocratic and authoritarian finger. Will they ever be remorseful for having discriminated against women? Or do they believe that women are not going to make it into eternity either???


Stuart. thank you for your book on Grace. the introductory poem is worth the price and more. I use it as an opening prayer in my Sunday achool class at Brandon Wilde a senior home. Your thoughts have a way with words, thank you


Beautiful and timely thoughts Stuart Tyner!

1 Like

[ Ben, you are a “suspect”… LOL ]


1 Like