Let’s give Gamaliel a rest
Everywhere I go, it seems that someone is quoting Gamaliel:
Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38-39)
Okay, not quite everywhere I go. But I always find it strange that out of all the Pharisees quoted in the Bible, we only quote one approvingly. His statement is reported, but not endorsed, but a lot of us think that this is a view endorsed by the Bible. When people quote this, they are saying that it’s best not to express a viewpoint on something. Just stay passive and let God show whether it is right or not. Gamaliel is both wrong and right. He’s wrong on his first premise: “! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.” Wrong! Lots of activities of human origin have succeeded wildly. Lots of world religions, even all types of -isms, inequities and injustices have stood the test of time. But I am not prepared to say that God is in them all. He was right in his second premise: that if God is in it, it won’t be defeated. But there are a lot of things God is not in, that seem to last. I don’t like being passive about evil. I’m glad Wilberforce never said, “Leave slavery alone! If it’s of human origin it will fail.” Sometimes we need to oppose what is wrong, not just wait for God to take care of it for us. Just my pet peeve: let’s give Gamaliel a bit of a rest. Enough quoting Pharisees!