all christians are hypocrites: a response

Hypocrisy

“All you Christians are the same. You’re all hyprocrites!”

I have heard this claim personally multiple times in many different contexts, and in many different towns and cities. Sometimes it is said with malice and bitterness and sometimes it is said as if it is simply a statement of fact.

I was reminded of this claim when reading a blog by Christian Piat, Four More (BIG) Reasons Why Young Adults Quit Church. In a series of blog articles, Piat outlines 11 key reasons why many young adults quit or stop being involved in Church. The view that Christians are hyprocites is just one of them. Piat writes:

From the scads of TV evangelists busted for impropriety to Catholic  priests sexually abusing children under their care, there’s a face on Christianity in the media that says one thing and does another. Though this is hardly the baseline for all Christians, there’s a phenomenon of  human consciousness that tends to seek out examples that reinforce  existing stereotypes. Things that don’t align with our prejudice get  filtered out. The result: everywhere we look, we see examples that  reaffirm what we already thought about Christians.

While I have entitled this blog ‘… a response’,  it should be noted that this is not a response to Christian Piat’s article but rather an extension on what he has written and a response to those who believe that hypocrisy is an issue in the Church.

The Collins Dictionary defines hypocrisy as:

[noun] the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc, contrary to one’s real character or actual behaviour, esp the pretence of virtue and piety

As Piat writes, hypocrisy in Christianity is seen when a Christian says one thing and does another. To me, this sounds very much like my everyday life – I say I will do this or that, but the next minute I am doing the very thing I said I wouldn’t do. Doesn’t the Apostle Paul say something about his very same struggle (Romans 7)??

However, when many people describe Christians as hyprocrites, they do so expecting that because Christians hold to a certain moral or ethical code and speak about love and forgiveness (etc), these things will be thoroughly evident in all Christians lives, all of the time. One mistake means that not only the offender but the Church as a whole is written off.

Shane Claiborne & Jonathan  Wilson-Hartgrove write in their co-written book Becoming the Answers to our Prayer: Prayer for ordinary radicals:

The evangelical troubadour Rich Mullins used to say, “Whenever people say, ‘Christians are hypocrites’, I say, ‘Duh, every time we come together as a community we are confessing that we are hypocrites, weaklings in need of God and each other.’”

The difference between a hypocrite and a “recovering sinner” (in the words of Jarrod McKenna), is that a recovering sinner knows they are, in essence, a hypocrite.

There is a saying which goes something like; “The person who says, ‘I am proud’, is not all that proud. But the person who says, ‘I am not proud,’ in him is the pride that dare not speak its name.”

A hypocrite professes one thing and does another but does not see that what they do and say are a contridiction. Even in this sense Christians (myself included) do act hypocritically. I will deliberately act in a way which contridicts my Christian morals and ethics.

However, although I sin, although I say one thing and do another, my prayer for myself is that I would not become so proud as to neglect to acknowledge my brokeness, my constant struggle with sin and my utter dependance on God, his grace and the grace of those around me in Christian community.

Are all Christians hypocrites? Absolutely! But thank God for his gracious forgiveness in Jesus Christ and the grace of being in true Christian community.

– Jono

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About Jono Ingram

I am a Baptist Pastor in North West Victoria, Australia. I enjoy writing about issues relating to theology, biblical interpretation, social justice and ethics and relating this to life. I also love my veggie garden...

Posted on April 16, 2012, in Christianity, grace, Love, mercy, The Church and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Its one do the beautiful mysteries of the church. We are at once dirty, sinful, hypocritical and a beautiful, spotless Bride. We must be on guard against self-righteousness and yet self-assured in our adoption as God’s children. What a wonderful paradox we live in!

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