God is in the dock. Shall we convict him or forgive him? Shall we replace the God of Scripture with another of our choosing, mock and deride him, or ignore him? Shall we replace revelation with the chaos of speculation? We perceive ourselves, rather than God, as the center of the world and this universal condition leads to conflict with others and with God. Maintaining our center causes cheating, lying, litigation, divorce, wars, genocide, and human misery. Western civilization is giving up trust in the promise of God's mercy, justice, and forgiveness and replacing it with trust in the goodness of man.
Jesus warned us to beware the teaching of the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducees, who denied hope of eternal life, are a rough equivalent of our modern day secularists with their religious trust that this world is all there is. Replacing God with trust in flawed human nature is a mark of arrogance that even pagans would have characterized as hubris evoking divine wrath.
The Pharisee's yeast of self-righteousness is a natural condition of us all. Even when cleansed it reappears in every tradition rendering forgiveness and transformation a promise only for those who think they have earned and deserve it. Such a distortion of God's word is congenial to our self-as-center, but it robs us sinners of the justice and mercy of a loving God.
Following Jesus's warning we have the opportunity to wipe away the Sadducee arrogance and the Pharisee self-righteousness and discover anew the supreme power and joy of the Christian faith.