Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

by | Oct 24, 2012 | Uncategorized | 0 comments


Before I give my two cents, I have had the opportunity to ask Larry Osborne (@larryosborne) himself a few questions about his new book! Let’s take a look at these questions and answers:

JSN: If there was one thing (knowledge) you want readers to take away from this book, what is it?  

LARRY OSBORNE: I want to warn those of us who are zealous in our faith about the seldom spoken of dangers that come with being at the front of the following-Jesus line. It’s a great place to be. It’s where I want to be. But it carries with it the dangerous temptation of turning around and looking with disdain at those who lag behind us rather than looking with humility at the Lord in front of us. 

JSN: How do you want your readers to respond to this book (in other words, what action do you want to see happen)?

LARRY OSBORNE: I hope that those of us who are leaders in the body of Christ will step back and make sure that we aren’t confusing leadership with discipleship – and that we are combining both the high calling of Jesus with the incredible compassion of Jesus. It’s a delicate balance that’s not always easy to maintain.

I also hope this book offers hope and encouragement to those who struggle in their faith. Jesus said he would not snuff out a smoldering wick or break off a bruised reed. I hope those who are smoldering wicks and bruised reeds will be encouraged to keep moving forward with Jesus.

JSN: Why/How has this changed from your sticky themed books in the past?

LARRY OSBORNE: My “Sticky” themed books focus on ministry leadership. They are far more Proverbs than Romans. But my heart for leadership flows out of a heart for spiritual formation. Leadership that doesn’t produce disciples is a waste of time. This book speaks to the leader’s heart (as well as the follower’s heart). It’s a call to radically pursue Jesus without falling into the traps of pride, exclusivity, and the other dangerous of overzealous faith that can turn us into Accidental Pharisees.

See Larry himself talk his book out in more detail in this video on YouTube.


If we were to think back to the Pharisees of Scripture, pride and exclusivity easily define their faith. Osborne also touches on legalism and uniformity among a number of other pitfalls that causes sin to so easily entangle us, draining us of our faith and witness to the world. The “faith” of Pharisees stuck out like a sore thumb when placed up against that of Christ. It was like trying to mix oil and water together; it just doesn’t happen. In other words, there was something so different about Christ’s relationship with the Father than the way the Pharisees lived out the Scriptures. As Osborne says above in the Q & A session, to follow after God is to live radically. New. Extreme. Revolutionary. To live like Christ did.

As for the text itself, as a review website we shy away from saying whether or not the book is “good” or not. We want to notify you of the text and let you know who the text would be a great read for. I will say a few of the strengths of the book though. Foremost, this is not a surface-level biblical study of the word “pharisee.” Osborne has devoted many hours, drawing from his own experiences and from the Word of God (obvious from the number of times he specifically mentions biblical texts), simmering over the subject of pharisaical living. Legalistic, pride-stricken faith has been an issue since the days of Christ and we would be foolish to think that it has dissipated since then. Pastors, this is a very important book to wrestle with. Your ministry must move OUT of the path or daily checklists. Your self-righteousness is not your doing, it is Christ’s doing.

Who should read this? Pastors, read this. Anyone who has dealt with legalism or is cynical toward said issue, you should also give this a read. I say pastors should read this not just for their own journey, but because we are dealing with a generation that is trying to learn to balance faith and life (haven’t we always been?) and are sick and tired of one’s faith merely being going to church and daily being in the Word (which themselves are important, but we cannot — we must not — get those tasks confused with the task Christ accomplished on the cross).

Back Cover Reads:

Following Jesus is not a race to see who can be the most radical, sacrifical, knowledgable, or burnt out for Jesus. It’s simply doing whatever he calls us to do, whether it’s radical and crazy or simple and mundale.

Nobody talks about it much, but our passion for God can have a dark and dangerous side. Bestselling author Larry Osborne shines a light on the six most common dangers of overzealous faith and then shows us how to avoid them.

If you’re seeking to follow Jesus with everything you’ve got, or if you wonder what has happened to the Jesus who offers rest to the weary and an easier yoke to the overloaded, than this book is for you. You’ll find that Jesus’ offer still stands.

“Larry Osborne has written many great books, but this is his best. As I read each chapter, I kept thinking about how desperately the church needs to hear this message. Every believer should read it.” — Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life

“This book resonated with so many of my hopes for what we might see God accomplish in our day. Read this book.” — Matt Chandler, author of The Explicit Gospel

*This book was free from Zondervan with my promise of an unbiased review. Thanks to

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