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Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Zealous faith can have a dangerous, dark side. While recent calls for radical Christians have challenged many to be more passionate about their faith, the down side can be a budding arrogance and self-righteousness that “accidentally” sneaks into our outlook.

In Accidental Pharisees, bestselling author Larry Osborne diagnoses nine of the most common traps that can ensnare C
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 13th 2012 by Zondervan (first published October 9th 2012)
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4.28  · 
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 ·  575 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Roger Leonhardt
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Are you a Pharisee, or better yet am “I” a Pharisee?

Why do we always see our motives as sincere, but others’ as vengeful or just plain wrong? Why, when we do something wrong, is it an accident or we misspoke, but when others do the same thing, we consider them sinful,mean-spirited or Judgmental?

This is the main subject of "Accidental Pharisees". We all, whether we admit it or not have a tendency to act like Pharisees. It is in our fallen nature to cover up our sin. Look at Adam and Eve.

Dave Jenkins
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Pharisees generally get a bad rap in Christianity today, and it’s not hard to see why since they were subject to Christ’s hardest and harshest words. Having grown up in the Church, I have seen modern Pharisees parade around like they know everything as if “knowing” everything was the essence of what biblical Christianity is. What is often missed in all of this is the fact that the Pharisees were one of the most if not the most well-educated group of Jewish believers trained thoroughly in the ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I had difficulty rating this book. The message is crucial to Christians, but I felt the delivery was at times poor.

There are numerous ways Christians elevate themselves and their spirituality above other Christians', and the danger is that they don't even realize it because it all started with good intentions (hence, "accidental" in the title). "Accidental Pharisees" gives many examples of the traps into which the well intentioned fall. Scripture is used to refute the various pitfalls; usually
Jimmy Reagan
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought that would get your attention. But in truth, you might not be able to handle this volume called “Accidental Pharisees” by Larry Osborne and published by Zondervan. I say this not because it isn’t good, but because it is so good! It tackles many preconceived notions with, of all things, what the Bible actually said. Novel approach? Well, you might not like it when you realize you have believed something yourself that the Bible doesn’t say.

I’ve reviewed several books at this point, yet I
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian_life
This is a really good book. A must read for Christians; especially for Christians who think they couldn't be accidental Pharisees. The subtitle says it all. Inside are all the scriptures, applications and caveats. Buy it, and read it anyway.

What makes this books so amazing to me is that our pastor made it his "book-of-the-month", encouraging every member of our congregation to read it. That takes courage . . . and humility. Because the second thing you see after you see that all this applies to
Kevin Thompson
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-living
Excellent book. It is thought-provoking and incredibly convicting! I had my doubts at first that it would be anything more than fluff - but boy was I wrong!
Craig Hurst
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual-life
No one sets out to be a Pharisee, well, almost no one. There was a time before and during the life of Christ where a certain group of religious leaders were actually called Pharisees – and they were proud of it. They thought they were doing God and all His people a spiritual service by making all kinds of extra biblical rules. They were making laws for God’s laws and they believed God loved them all the more because of it. They were zealous about their faith.

Fast forward to today. Being a Pharis
Bob Hayton
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Books on the Pharisees make many people nervous or defensive. No one wants to be labeled a Pharisee, and we're all sure that whatever they were, they weren't us. Larry Osborne approaches this from a more gracious angle, he describes people as "accidental Pharisees" in his new book "Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith." If you're already suspicious of that title, let me encourage you to give it some thought. With everything in the Gospels ...more
Samantha Barnes
"When the radicalness of my commitment, the intensity of my zeal, or the extent of my personal sacrifices become the means to receive or maintain God's acceptance and approval, the good news of the gospel is no longer good news to anyone except those of us who excel."

This book was painful in the best ways. My heart frequently dropped as I read these words and recognized so many evidences of Pharisaism in my life--and God's grace was made bigger as my sin was made evident. This book is not only f
Brandon H.
If I had to pick just one word to describe this book, I'd pick the word RELEVANT.

This is possibly THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK Christians from all backgrounds and denominations could read today. Even though it's been out for 5 years, I pray it becomes a best seller because so many of us believers are in desperate need of the timely message that's within its pages. If I ever become one of those pesky persons who give out books for believers to read like those annoying, nosey relatives who hand out uns
Brandon Lehr
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Pharisees

What were they thinking?

The Son of God himself shows up full of grace and truth, and all they wanted to do is argue over weekends and hand washing! Glad I'm not like those sinners. I wouldn't have been so foolish. It just goes to show that some people, just don't get it!

Wow, I'm starting to sound a little Pharisaical myself. It seems that even when we have the best of intentions to love and obey God, we can sometimes end up fighting against him.

This is exactly the sort of thing Larr
Lisa Johnson
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Title: Accidental Pharisees
Author: Larry Osborne
Pages: 208
Year: 2012
Publisher: Zondervan
Okay, I’ll admit it…I didn’t want to read this book at first. Why? Probably because I know my tendency to be a Pharisee in different areas of my life and it is hard to look at honestly. The Lord knows how many times words with an attitude slip out of my mouth or fingertips when I am typing an email then have The Spirit touch me. Ouch! Yes, I admit and confess I wrestle with it often. If it weren’t for God
Amy Mable
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
No one wants to be a Pharisee. They were harsh, unloving, unforgiving. They killed prophets and they spent an incredible amount of time baiting Jesus in an attempt to trip him up. Jesus offered Grace, the Pharisees demanded obedience. Jesus offered forgiveness, the Pharisees demanded consequences. And yet, the road to Pharisee Land is hard to avoid.

"We're all susceptible (to becoming accidental Pharisees) in different ways. ... But in the end, the pathway to becoming an accidental Pharisee alway
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Accidental Pharisees is about radically extreme believers who are strict on others who aren't living up to the notion of being a true follower of Christ. The based their whole demeanor on the passages of scripture and they expected others to follow the rules. The Pharisees were addicted to legalism and they condemned people who weren't as zealous at following the law. Pride is a big factor of an accidental Pharisees. We must avoid making comparisons with other believer and thinking we're living ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every Christian needs to read this book. Period.

Good Points:
1. And it’s at this point that your personal pursuit of holiness can morph into something dangerous: a deepening sense of frustration with those who don’t share your passionate pursuit of holiness. (loc 103)

2. If you continue farther and farther down the path of contempt for those who fail to keep up, you’ll end up in a place of arrogance. Fewer and fewer people will measure up to your definition of genuine disciple. Inevitably, being r
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It might come as a surprise that a mega church pastor would write a book warning Christians not be be overzealous in their faith during a time in which secular humanism is growing more dominant, but yet, the book is as relevant as it is timely. Those that are familiar with the story of Jesus know that the ancient sect known as “Pharisees” were singled out for strong criticism by Jesus and his followers. They had a reputation for being very legalistic in their interpretations of religious teachin ...more
Larry Osborne has written a wonderfully helpful and witty book about the prevalence of Pharisaism in our culture. Pharisees were known to be the most spiritual of their day, wearing the name like a badge of honor. But the term is now syno√nymous with hypocrite—no one in their right mind would want to be called a Pharisee today. Yet, because of the proclivity of the human heart, we all tend to think we're doing it right and somehow everyone else is not measuring up to God's standard (though, in t ...more
Loraine Alcorn
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was able to read Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne through book sneeze and I have to say its a great book and one I think every Christian today needs to read. This important book shows us how to stop this kind of behavior before it becomes second nature to us and I have learned so much from it.

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne get to the heart of the matter and shows us just way its so important for us to never judge others or become prideful in the way we walk with the Lord.


Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think this is a great reminder to all who follow Christ to not be a Pharisees and to repent of pride. Great humor and sensitivity was used in dealing with this common and widespread issue. I originally was attracted to the title for "others" I knew, but it was God's way of dealing with me about this very issue. My Pride and exclusivity and overzealous faith and how I am that pharisee! Thank you Larry Osborne for this gift!
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-library
With his typical wit & pull-no-punches honesty, Larry Osborne tackles the variety of ways in which those who are serious about following Jesus can become more serious about their own rules rather than Biblical truth.

I'd be interested in Larry speak on the intersection of these ideas with his Sticky Teams book... it would be an intriguing discussion.
Christine Hoover
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book, even though (especially because?) it was pretty convicting to read. I would recommend it to anyone struggling with guilt over not doing enough for God, anyone in church leadership, and anyone who secretly thinks they've pretty much got the Christian life down. I think I'll be re-reading this one!
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, challenging book on how we grow and live together as believers in Christ in a way that encourages one another. Really humbling and biblical look at how easily we can all become self-righteous.
Charles Roberts
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have just submitted a review on this book to Amazon. You can also read it on my blog,
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Very accessible, challenging to our pharisaical biases, and comforting to those on the end of pharisaical abuse.
Shang Hwah
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is a particular interesting book when we use the contents within the book as a mirror to reflect on our conduct as a Christian (or just life in general, I find it to be useful outside a religious context as well). One major point which the author has frequently mentioned is that while most of the time we may have the best of intentions, our overzealousness tends to turn people away instead of bringing them to us, therefore turning us into someone which we exactly wanted to avoid to be.

One thi
Brandon Wilkins
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm glad I read this, and it definitely delivers on the premise--showing modern examples of how we can all fall into the trap of pharisaical behavior.

However, I felt at times like his examples were too vague or perhaps misguided.

One example of this was when he said that those who believe in Christ-centered ministry can be legalistic about it. I suppose, perhaps this can be true but it felt at though the antidote was to not have firm convictions about being Christ-centered (as one example).

Troy McGahan
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was probably written about me especially early in my ministry. I was a prideful, know it all jerk. I honestly didn't mean to be, doggone I didn't want to be that either. However, there I was and I was good at it too. I knew what everyone else should do although I didn't always know or even do what I should. This book is on point and like most books you will find things in it you may not agree with but, it will be well worth your time. Oh btw, when you're reading it don't think to yours ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book for all of my Christian friends. This easy to read book will make you think about what a zealous faith can mean and how t can be harmful. For those carrying burdens of shame and guilt because you are struggling, this book will give you rest and hope. God loves you in your failures, if you have accidental Pharisees in your life you need to remove their destructive voices from the voice of God.
Isaac Shanth
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing book, and is a must read for every Christian. If as a Christian, you are frustrated with the sub-standards of other Christians, then this book will act as a mirror, showing you how inline your thinking is with the Pharisees and helps you to see how Jesus walked and motivates you to change the way you think.
Gina Mcandrew
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sanctification
Excellent book

This is a great read for keeping us in check, spiritually. It points out the many ways we are led astray in our thoughts and actions, and in doing so, reminds us to love one another.
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“Today we place lots of emphasis on increasing racial diversity in our churches. That’s a good thing. It’s needed. But there’s more to having a genuinely mosaic church than just racial and socioeconomic diversity. We also have to learn to work through the passionate and mutually exclusive opinions that we have in the realms of politics, theology, and ministry priorities. The world is watching to see if our modern-day Simon the Zealots and Matthew the tax collectors can learn to get along for the sake of the Lord Jesus. If not, we shouldn’t be surprised if it no longer listens to us. Jesus warned us that people would have a hard time believing that he was the Son of God and that we were his followers if we couldn’t get along. Whenever we fail to play nice in the sandbox, we give people on the outside good reason to write us off, shake their heads in disgust, and ask, “What kind of Father would have a family like that?”1 BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER To create and maintain the kind of unity that exalts Jesus as Lord of all, we have to learn what it means to genuinely bear with one another. I fear that for lots of Christians today, bearing with one another is nothing more than a cliché, a verse to be memorized but not a command to obey.2 By definition, bearing with one another is an act of selfless obedience. It means dying to self and overlooking things I’d rather not overlook. It means working out real and deep differences and disagreements. It means offering to others the same grace, mercy, and patience when they are dead wrong as Jesus offers to me when I’m dead wrong. As I’ve said before, I’m not talking about overlooking heresy, embracing a different gospel, or ignoring high-handed sin. But I am talking about agreeing to disagree on matters of substance and things we feel passionate about. If we overlook only the little stuff, we aren’t bearing with one another. We’re just showing common courtesy.” 2 likes
“Our spiritual comparisons are also incredibly biased. We have an amazing ability to compare things in a way that causes us to come out on top. And when we come out on top, it’s hard not to look down on people who don’t measure up.” 1 likes
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