One of the unexpected results of my “Top 10” post going viral is that it’s given me the opportunity to interact (via email and comments) with hundreds of people who are either atheists, anti-theists, agnostics, or skeptics.
I listened and I’ve attempted to answer as accurately, honestly, and transparently as possible. To that end, I took inventory of the basic comments, complaints, and objections of Christianity. I’ll address them over the next several articles, but it didn’t take long to identify the one major problem non-christians had with christianity…
Here are a few of many, many responses and comments I got:
“The subject isn’t why people leave Christianity, it’s why young people leave the church. Many young people leave because the people they are surrounded by are unpleasant, egotistical, and judgmental at best and hateful, criminal and hypocritical at worst.” – Tim
“Many “religious” people are hypocritical, they teach “tolerance” when really there isn’t any unless you are the right kind of person… it’s a joke!” – RPennington
“I left the Evangelical Church for the simpkr reason that I could no longer, in good conscience, belong to an organization that was so completely intolerant and hypocritical. For a religion that is supposed to be based on radical love I find that 90 Percent of the Christians I meet to be extremely judgemental black and white thinkers and their philosophies.” – Meg
“Most churches have a lot of hypocrites. I know from experience that people don’t act in church the way they act the rest of the time.” – Holly
“I think the term “hypocrite” comes from being told one thing by the staff and pulpit but in reality the staff does exactly what u’ve been told not too in private. U get told how wrong it is to do something yet their own children still living in their home are participating in those same activities you’ve just been judged for doing. I think that’s where the hypocrisy comes from.” – KT
And here’s my response.
I agree. Completely. The church is full of hypocrites.
Even ardent detractors of Christianity would agree that Jesus was pretty clear on where he stood with hypocrites. (Matthew 24 anyone)? In fact, Jesus is much harsher on hypocrites than we are. Why is that? Well, since we have such disdain for these “hypocrites”, let’s define what, or who they are.
Hypocrite (per Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
“For I do not understand my own actions. ForI do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ”
“ For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
“Wretched man that I am!”
Paul? Hypocrite by definition. What what separated him from the hypocrites (Pharisees) that Jesus blasted?
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are likewhitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
33 You serpents,you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
So much for “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”, huh? Jesus hated hypocrisy more than we do.
But let’s make sure we’re clear in our distinctions:
In the end, we’re all failures. The difference is, from a Christian perspective, that we KNOW this. It’s the entire FOUNDATION of our faith; that ONLY through acknowledging this failure, this complete inability to do what it is we WANT through faith, can we be saved by Christ. You may reject the gospel of repentance of this failure and faith in Christ’s sacrificial death to forgive you of that failure. But christian, atheist, anti-theist, agnostic, or skeptic, we all fail in striving to live up to the standards we profess.
What does this mean in regard to the criticism of christians?
1. You’re right. We’re hypocrites (failures). I fail. I fail every…single…day in both word and deed in not only the things I’ve done, but things I’ve failed to do. I fail in my 2 stated goals by not loving God with all my heart and by not loving my neighbor as myself.
2. Anyone in the “visible” church who denies #1 is a hypocrite (fake). Jesus himself says that every..single.. person fails to live up to the standard. If you claim you do, and are delusionally trying to convince others that you do… you’re a fake. A fraud. A phony. And to those who criticize them as such, you’re right. Jesus agreed.
Christians aren’t “good people”, we’re hypocrites (failures). But the very core message of our faith prohibits us from being hypocrites (fakes). To be a “self-righteous Christian” is complete violate the law of non-contradiction. It’s impossible to be “self-righteous” in a faith where our ONLY righteousness comes from outside of us (Christ). Do you want to know how strongly Christianity teaches against “self-righteousness”? Scripture describes our “self-righteous works” as filthy rags. Literally, dirty menstrual cloths. Let that sink in. (Isaiah 64). Any “righteousness” a christian has is the polar opposite of “self-righteousness”! As the same Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians:
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith