The other day, I was playing on the Internet Scrabble Club against
an opponent that somehow lead to a religious conversation . My opponent told me that their problem with the church was, that
there were a lot of hypocrites. I don't know about you, but I've heard this objection quite a few times.
too often, we justify it. "Well, every place of business has hypocrites." (That's true, but the church doesn't claim to be
like every other place.) It's not that we might say "We're not perfect. Just forgiven." (That's also true but it can be taken
as a way to justify everything else.
Here's my start answer. I agree. There are a lot of hypocrites in the church.
In fact, I'm one of them. What? That's right. I certainly can't claim moral perfection in any way. In fact, if you want to
claim that, then you are making the claim of Christ and that is a very dangerous position.
One of the doctrines of
the church has generally been the inerrancy of Scripture. This simply means that Scripture is without errors when properly
understood and doesn't contradict itself. While I hold to this doctrine, I have told people at times that there is one passage
in Scripture that I disagree with.
1 Timothy 1
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
Now why would
I disagree with this? Simply because I'd say Paul is in second place and I'm in first place. How can I say this? I simply
believe that Paul looked at the cross, and at the cross, there's no place for lifting yourself up. You can't look at the cross
and say "Well I screw up here but generally, I'm a pretty good person." No. You can only say "I'm the worst."
startling answer is that there are hypocrites and this needs to be dealt with. If someone in the church is blatantly living
in serious hypocrisy, then church discipline needs to come into play. This is the method noted in the Bible as well, in many
passages dealing with church conflict.
For those of us in the church, this needs to be done in love. This is one time
where we might want to remember we're not perfect. We don't need to overly punish ourselves for not being perfect. Justification
is done once but sanctification is a process that happens day by day.
The church is the one organization where you
belong to simply because you don't deserve to belong to it. Other groups make sure you meet criteria to belong. The church
says that you have no criteria to bring with you other than the fact that you're a sinner in need of a savior.
this having been said, my other answer to the hypocrisy question is: It's irrelevant. I don't mean this to be harsh. There
are many skeptics struggling with this issue. For one thing, Augustine said that you never judge a philosophy by its misuse.
Let's suppose that all of a sudden, everyone in the world started living out the Sermon on the Mount perfectly. Would this
world be better? I'd say yes.
One other point needs to be made on this sermon. The Christians were actually the first
ones with the golden rule. Rabbis like Hillel of the time, and other religions, had the command "Do not do to others what
you do not want them to do to you." Jesus took it and made the negative a positive. Would the world be better if we all lived
like that? I'd say so.
Furthermore, for this main point, I ask the skeptic, for the sake of argument, to assume some
things are true. Let's assume that the BIble is true in the OT entirely. Now let's assume that Jesus did live and walk among
us and was God in the flesh. Finally, let's assume that he died and rose again, and ascended into Heaven.
the kicker. Let's suppose no one, not even the disciples, believed after the resurrection. Would his claims still be true?
The answer is yes. He's given undeniable criteria by raising himself from the dead. Whether people believe it or not, it's
true. The whole world could believe something, but if it goes against the facts, the whole world is found. The point is that
truth is not found by how many people hold the belief but the evidence for the belief.
In other writings, I have dealt
with the topic of the resurrection of Christ from the dead which I would advise you to read for more clarification. I would
also urge you to go out and visit your library or bookstore and get some books on the topic. Go ahead and get both sides also.
I have no fear of someone getting both sides, because I'm already sure of which side will win in the end to all who earnestly
Thus, I would say that while hypocrisy is an issue, one main issue needs to be dealt with. as the author
Ravi Zacharias has said. The skeptic may complain about evil in the church, but what are they doing about the evil that lurks
in their own hearts? In fact, what are we as Christians doing about that evil that lurks in our own hearts?
not be hypocritical about it after all.