Dissecting Another Anti-Discernment Hit-Piece

A “New Kind of Pharisee?”

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
— Titus 1:9-10

“A New Kind of Pharisee” by Eric Davis on The Cripplegate


Beloved, we can expect as the end times deepen that the apostate church will lash out more and more at those who seek to speak the truth so that some of their followers may come out of the darkness before it is too late. We can also expect that even well intended believers will contribute to this as the devil wants to silence truth at all costs.

The above piece is written by a pastor named Eric Davis from Wyoming, writing on a website called Cripplegate. I have never dealt with this site but some of the cursory examination seems solid, which is why this article was so disappointing. Perhaps Pastor Davis experienced some uncalled for criticism or perhaps he is guilty of the armchair reactionary judgment he seems so hot to speak against. Either way, this amounted to a very long hit piece on discernment, whether it was intended or not.

Discernment cares about the sheep, not the wolves.

It is always based upon things that have been actually said, usually over a long period of time. It is not speculative. Now, are there some who perhaps practice discernment in unbiblical manners? I have to assume so, but the circles I traffic in do not do what Pastor Davis accuses us of and the result of the generalized broad-brushing here will lead people away from Christ by dismissing true discernment. So let us reason once more:


“There is a new kind of Pharisee today. Things like social media have paved the way for them. And they are not rare or quiet. Here is a partial profile of the new Pharisees:

1. They have seated themselves in the chair of Moses. The tactic of the new Pharisees communicates that they are in the highest seat of judgment and above questioning. As such, they behave as if God has charged them to prosecute those who do not conform to their law. In this way, they make themselves and their standards well-known on social media. They hand out violations on partial information and without the full story. They lack grace and learning. They’re watching you, waiting in the shadows to trap you in a statement, plotting together how they might trap you in what you say.” – Pastor Eric Davis


Starting off by playing the Pharisee card is never a good sign. The reality is that the Pharisees were condemned because of their false teaching and distortion of the ways of God and discernment ministers would have been the first ones to point it out. As for the charge of seating in the chair of Moses that is just silly. First of all, it is not “our law” that requires conforming but rather God’s Word. I also do not know of many who work on partial information although there can be a rush to judge that we need to be wary of.

For example, when Victoria Osteen said that we do not worship God for Him but rather for ourselves, I gave her a week to clean it up before writing anything. Once she and Joel double downed however, exposing the error became paramount. As for grace – I have none for false teachers and the Bible does not demand that I have any for them. This is not about trapping anyone, Pastor Davis. These are their words they are being held to account for. Is it so unreasonable to expect people to stand by what they say?

“2. They are judgmental in the true sense. Ironically, the most abused verse in the Bible can safely be said of them: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matt. 7:1). In the name of compassion, they are judgmental. They need little data and a skewed view of the big picture to persecute and slander. Just one piece of a ten-piece pie is enough for them to smear you.

Similarly, they believe the worst and make presumptuous conclusions. They seem to not be concerned that their info is wrong or slanted. Rarely, if ever, do they ask, “Hey, so, you said this. What do you mean by that? It seems like you are saying A or B. But I want to avoid presumption and answering a matter before I hear.” No. That’s no fun. That doesn’t deliver the self-righteous high like putting you in a proverbial giant-suplex before their fanfare on social media. Instead of approaching issues with logic, humility, intelligent conversation, and asking questions, they come with hateful judgment, seeking prosecution on bits of information. They seem to use fear tactic. Words are carefully chosen so as to strike fear in those who might challenge them. Many are scared about being publicly labeled an “ ‘ist” or “abuser” (ironically) and so they often do not receive the challenge they need. They keep correction at bay by these careful tactics.” – Pastor Eric Davis


If you understand Matthew 7:1 you would admit that it actually is dealing with hypocrisy, not judgment. Furthermore, the Bible says we are to judge our brethren, but not the world.

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you.
— 1 Corinthians 5:11-13

The Bible also says we are to test everything.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
— 1 John 4:1

The compassion you seem to mock here is for the sheep being led to slaughter. If people make presumptuous conclusions or use slanted and unverified information I agree that would be bad but c’mon pastor. You know that is not the majority of true discernment. If showing you what you said along with what the Bible said is now called “smearing” then I guess I “smear.”

As for the asking the wolf what he really meant, that is a red herring. Most of the people exposed by discernment ministries would never answer our calls but more importantly, the Bible does not say I need to call them. Once again, the responsibility is to the sheep – not the wolves. Your argument about using fear is also quite silly. No one should ever be beyond correction. You should really be referring to with Bible verses and solid exegesis.

“3. They are revilers of the brethren. They are skilled at reviling. They do not call people out with the end of lovingly presenting others complete in Christ (Col. 1:28). We might wonder if they humbly and lovingly pray in secret for those they revile. They are not correcting others to help others become sound in the faith. The reviling often comes from undealt-with bitterness. Many of us understand that. Hurt is real. People are really sinned against in bad ways. And yet, the love of Christ and the body of Christ is sufficient to bind up and have victory in such situations. He’s that good. But what we must not do is let Satan get the foothold in our lives by becoming bitter. Reviling without humble question-asking is often a symptom of sinful bitterness. Though we experience real hurt and sin, our all-loving, all-sufficient Lord does not permit us to stew internally in bitterness and consequently spew externally with reviling. There is a more excellent way. But the new Pharisees haven’t traveled it.” – Pastor Eric Davis

Wow. So now if we disagree we hate the brethren? Seriously? Colossians 1:28 is when we deal with the church, not false teachers. Show me one verse in the Bible where I am supposed to lovingly call out wolves. Just one. Your error is in assuming everyone who says Jesus is your brethren. Wolves do not become sound in their faith. The Bible says their destruction sleepeth not and their condemnation is from long ago.

While I agree with you on bitterness, I am starting to wonder who hurt you this badly. The more excellent way you reference is love and for those that come out from the darkness of false teaching and cults they would argue against you about what love truly is.

“4. They are experts at setting aside the commandments of God in order to keep their tradition. These new Pharisees are sort of like really bad cable news. They often create boogeyman problems with what they say and post. Crying down often phantom issues with passionate, but baseless zeal, they and their followers rejoice in heroic slaying of mythical dragons. They stir up anger and dissension by taking a myopic view of an issue and exploding them, demanding adherence to man-made standards. Humbly submitting to, and plugging in with, a biblical local church is not adequate for them. God’s ways are too oppressive. Forget about the piles of commands for godly operations within the local church that are undergirded with humility (cf. Rom. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 14:34-35; Phil. 2:3-5; 1 Tim. 2:11-12; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 4:8, 5:5). Forget about the fact that God—not a man, not a pastor, not any human—but God gave commands for men and women to have order in Christendom; for the pastor/elder role to be filled by men, and for women to “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” (1 Tim. 2:11-12). Nevermind that those verses are actually in the Bible, and the Bible was given by God. We seem to know better than God what God said. And for some, if you dare mention these things, you are prosecuted and sentenced without a trial. Yeah, those verses might be in the Bible, but you are a raging something ‘ist if you dare to bring them up. The irony could not be greater. As such, these new Pharisees are experts at setting aside the commandments of God in order to keep their tradition. They have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. No one knows their law like they do. It’s everyone else who is below their bar of adjudication. Everyone else is the sinner unless they join their Bible-forsaking, man-made laws.” – Pastor Eric Davis

Huh? I don’t even know what he is rambling about here. The standards used in discernment are biblical. Only the Bible matters. That is the measuring rod. I agree that ideally a local church is needed but sometimes finding one that is actually preaching the Gospel can be challenging. We do not affiliate with a local church for the sake of it. I agree with you on all the listed scripture and so would any legitimate discernment minister. So this tirade seems oddly out of place and completely disconnected from reality. The very thing you are accusing of here is the polar opposite of what discernment ministries do. We abhor man-made laws and insist only on biblical truth. I do not waste my time with strawman arguments.

“5. They are blind and unteachable. They could never imagine themselves as the new Pharisees. Yet, they are more angry about a few cultural sins than they are over their extraordinary lack of biblical humility. When it comes to such sins, it’s not them. They, after all, are the guardians and enforcers of law. Therein, they are tragically blind. They nearly break social media with irony when they speak. For every one probably-not-actually-a-sin sin they rage against, they commit ten actual sins. If you question or confront them, they self-righteously accuse you too. You are guilty of an ‘ism simply by the fact of questioning them. They refuse to receive correction, notwithstanding some 30 verses in Proverbs commending the practice. They have no time or toleration for pause, reflection, and objectively observing all the facts of a situation. They are too trigger-happy. It’s not as fun to wait. They don’t have patience for pausing in case they might be answering a matter before they hear (Prov. 18:13). They would read an article like this and could not imagine themselves as pharisaical. It’s someone else. It’s the other sinners. It’s the “crowd which does not know the law [who] is accursed” (John 7:49). They are all law and no grace towards anyone who would ask questions about the validity of their claims.” – Pastor Eric Davis

A few cultural sins? Is that how little you think of the word of God? A true sign of anyone practicing discernment must be a teachable spirit lest we become what we rail against.

The problem is that most people come at discernment with empty handed charges-exactly as we have seen so far in this article!

Bombastic nonsense without any backup. It is not about “the law.” It is about teaching the word of God correctly. You want to ask questions – go ahead. I just pray you are better prepared than when you wrote this article.

“6. Much of their fruit is anger, condemnation, and unforgiveness. If you do not conform to their man-centered, man-made standards, you will become the recipient of anger and unforgiveness, ironically. If you challenge them, even gently, brace yourself. You will become the object of hate-filled verbal violence. Your name will be drug threw miles of social-media mud. But even worse is if you do sin against them in word. This is the ultimate infraction. Sins against them seem unforgivable. If you say something uncharitable in one of your less noble moments, you will pay dearly. Their Bible does not have verses like:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18).

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God” (Rom. 12:19).

“Why not rather be wronged?” (1 Cor. 6:7).

“Love does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Cor 13:5).

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).

“Let your gentle spirit be made known to all men. The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5).

“[K]eep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

In the way they condemn others, they are often quick to speak, slow to hear, and quick to anger. Many of them have forgotten Proverbs 17:27-28:

“He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool sprit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, hei is considered prudent.”

They cannot forgive, perhaps because, for many, they have yet to experience the Lord’s forgiveness (cf. Matt 18:35, Eph 4:32).” – Pastor Eric Davis

Wow, first we are revilers of the brethren and now we are unsaved. Yet it is I who is called judgmental? Got it. I agree with Pastor Davis that we should never operate on a revenge motive. Reaction must be tempered, especially on social media. The Lord has dealt with me on this subject many times as I used to always give what I got. I would challenge Pastor Davis to speak to someone who escaped the IHOP or Bethel cults because someone dared to speak the truth to them about the false teachings they were following and ask them if they think our fruit is condemnation, anger and unforgiveness. That is a shallow take on a broader subject. Realize Pastor, the false teacher never sins against me. He distorts God’s word leading people away from Christ and as we are commanded to do in the Bible, he must be rebuked.

“7. They say things and do not do them. There is often an abysmal inconsistency in the moral standard they demand and that which they exercise. As they patrol social media, they exercise an ethic inconsistent with the standard they exact from others. While they aggressively condemn others on social media, they commit those very things behind closed doors.

They demand compassion, but harshly disdain others.  

They cry for justice, but presumptuously condemn.

They insist on grace, but punish those who disagree.

They demand equality, but exercise partiality.

They insist on love, while treating those who disagree with hate.” – Pastor Eric Davis

So we hate the brethren, are unsaved and now are secret sinners behind closed doors? How would you possibly know Pastor? Oh that’s right – you can’t. This article has now gone off the rails. What started as a misguided diatribe has now devolved into personal attacks, ironically enough considering what he claims to hate so much.

“8. They seek to justify themselves and view others with contempt. In this sense, the new Pharisees tend towards legalism. It’s difficult to attain to justification in their system. You can do it, but you must cling to their cultural commands. You can achieve justification in their system. But, you must achieve it. Their law is tricky. You must be as angry at yourself as they are about you regarding sins you never committed. You must be able to speak and cry down the ever-growing lists of ‘ists that they keep. You must not keep silent. No, silent reflection; a heart that ponders how to answer; these are sins in this system. You must answer a matter before its heard. You must be the first to plead a case. You must not look at the bigger picture. If you do, you are part of the evil, cursed crowds who do not know the law (cf. John 7:49). You must hold to guilty until proven innocent. There is no time for humble, thorough truth searching. Actual great sins—if anyone accuses another of such a sin—cannot be studied with slow, objective examination of all sides from all angles so as to arrive at truth. Truth is not really the goal. If your rage meter does not soar as high as theirs, well, you are guilty and unforgiven. Justification comes through equaling, or surpassing, their rally-cry in the latest preferential cultural fad; and joining them in graceless, baseless reviling of others. They place a yoke upon others’ neck which no one can bear. Theirs is a burdensome system of salvation. Biblical justification by faith alone in Christ alone isn’t enough to admit you into their church and their heaven. Seeing, loathing, and confessing your personal sin; putting broken child-like confidence in Christ and his finished work on the cross for acceptance with God—all this is insufficient. You must join them in getting as angry, and as social-media patrolling, and woked as them, whatever the current standard happens to be. Then, maybe, you’ll be accepted.” – Pastor Eric Davis

This has nothing to do with me. I am just dirt talking to dirt, as my pastor would say. Legalism is using the law to justify salvation. That is not what discernment ministries do. We insist on biblical accuracy from those who labor in teaching and preaching. I do not want you to justify yourself – just divide the word of truth correctly. That yoke sir, was placed on your neck by God Himself, not me. The word says we will be judged at a higher standard and that the blood of our listeners is upon our heads. If you need time to study, go for it. Just stop preaching until you understand what you are saying. Eternal souls are at stake here.

“9. Their spirituality is only external. The outside of the cup looks clean because of the false spirituality. They cry down the easy-to-condemn fouls outside of them in greater culture. In the meantime, they do not cry down the fouls inside of them. As such, they lack the true inner spirituality Jesus calls for (Matt. 5:3-5, 7:3-5). The behavior of some of the new pharisees is telling. It’s almost like they are trying to live the photo-negative of Jesus’ beatitudes: They act, not as impoverished of spirit, but self-made-rich in spirit. The way they disdain others who differ with their man-made ethic is revealing. They do not mourn their own inner heart sins, but rage against others outside of themselves with no humility and compassion. They do not hunger for inner, heart-holiness. They hunger for nothing as to their own inner righteousness. Instead, theirs is a hunger solely for others to conform to their skewed, sub-cultural standard. They hunger to be exalted by pushing the moral fences far away from themselves, and towards culturally fashionable faux pas. They are blind to their spiritual bankruptcy, crying for an external form of righteousness while utterly lacking true inward righteousness. They demand outward confirming to their narrow, standard while failing to confirm to God’s inward beatitude brokenness.” – Pastor Eric Davis

The fouls are against those who falsely teach God’s word. The rest of this point is yet another personal attack upon people you could not possibly know. You have no idea what the people you are maligning hunger for sir. I considered summarizing your drawn out points but it is important that people see the vitriol and hate you are trafficking in here. Unintended or not.

“10. Theirs is an intoxicating external righteousness. The new Pharisees have found a system of self-made righteousness that is rewarding. It’s not difficult to get it, which makes the moral buzz all the more enticing. They craft a righteousness by fleeing the humble, sober, biblical spirituality of mourning one’s own heart-idols and rejoicing in the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ. They find an external, cultural issue to rally around. After all, that’s much easier than embracing Jesus’ true spirituality of examining and mourning one’s motives; of repenting of invisible heart idols; of seeing, loathing, confessing, and fleeing the secret lusts in one’s own heart. They loathe true spiritual loathing. They hate the true spiritual hatred Jesus identified as a genuine, living spirituality (cf. Luke 14:26). So instead, they travel outside themselves to loathe on the far-too-easy-to-loathe cultural sins, some of which are no sins at all. Again, they patrol social media looking for the self-worshiping moral buzz. They find some poor individual who challenges their self-righteousness; who says, “Hey, Jesus said this also…” They tend to attack without asking questions for clarification. The buzz is there. You don’t ask questions when you’re a Pharisee. The intoxication is too good. Just jump. Just revile. Just cry foul. And, it’s all good because you will have plenty of others, also strung out on the self-actualizing crack, to affirm the utterly self-righteous, presumptuous tactic. And today, their spiritual crack is available for cheap on every corner of Twitter. It’s all so easy. It’s all so intoxicating. And it is all so utterly sinful and self-righteous. In all this; in the self-righteous zeal, they miss the true mission of Christ of disciple making through the humble, tactful, and biblical preaching of the gospel and repentance. As such, they are a poor witness to the great name of Christ. These are the new Pharisees. Beware of their leaven.” – Pastor Eric Davis

My ministry does not confer any righteousness upon me. I have none except what Christ has appropriated for me. There is nothing intoxicating about this and please stop confusing biblical accuracy for teachers and preachers with some lame cultural issue argument you keep trying to craft. There is no moral buzz. Beware of the leaven is right.

Beware of pastors who appear hurt in some manner, for what was probably justified criticism, writing hit pieces about people they never met. I have never heard of Pastor Davis before so I will give him a pass on everything outside of this horrible article. Maybe he meant something different here and if so, he needed to be more specific.

He complained about people attacking the brethren and then he attacks the brethren.

He complained that people write out of ignorance and then he slanders people regarding private matters in their lives he could not possibly know. He accuses them of being unyielding and yet out of the other side of his mouth he speculates that perhaps they are not even saved. There is something behind this article. Some hurt or pain that was levied unto him or someone he knew. No one takes this much pen to paper to protest so uncontrollably without cause. Whatever it is I pray Pastor Davis reconciles it within his heart and stops attacking people who are co-laborers with him. If he really intended this differently, he needs to put down the broad brush and get specific. Otherwise he just becomes what he claims to loathe.

Reverend Anthony Wade – May 16, 2019


Anthony Wade is the minister for 828 Ministries devoted to the purity of doctrine