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Theology,Worldviews

The Charge of Being a Hypocrite…

In his book Fool’s Talk, Os Guinness has a challenging chapter on hypocrisy entitled Beware the Boomerang which I am sharing some thoughts and excerpts from.  I said yesterday that he would make the case that hypocrisy can be an advantage for our apologetics, but first we need to see that Os clearly shows that it can be a BIG problem as well.

Asking if it is the “unanswerable Objection” he gives the usual charges that we hear regarding Christians being hypocrites that do not walk the talk.  He then rightly points out that “such attacks sting, and in the acrid atmosphere of outrage or mockery, hypocrisy can appear to be the unanswerable objection to faith.  How can anyone defend the indefensible?  Christian hypocrites violate their own faith in a flagrant contradiction of everything they claim, so who need take their claims seriously?  In fact, there is no need to attack hypocrisy with heavy artillery.  Expose a Christian hypocrite and he will be seen to have falsified his own faith.  Better still, have a whole community to be hypocrites together, and others can walk away and leave faith to die.”

Mr. Guinness goes on to say hypocrisy is a massive challenge for Christians and especially when Jesus said we are to be His witnesses.  He cites many secular sources who mock the faith on this ground and then concludes with this:  “Hypocrisy is therefore a very serious problem for the defenders of the faith.  But what exactly is hypocrisy?  Why is it so serious, and in what sense does it count against faith?  Are Christians the only hypocrites, or perhaps only the worst?  How are we to counter hypocrisy and achieve some measure of true authenticity?  And what are the special dangers for apologists in countering charges of hypocrisy?”

For the answer to those questions, stay tuned as we continue through this important chapter!

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Theology,Worldviews

Some Gems from Fool’s Talk

Well we made it through Proverbs, so I thought I would continue some posts commenting on an interesting chapter that Os Guinness included in his book Fool’s Talk.  He confronts the issue of hypocrisy and begins with some fascinating history that is very relevant to our divided Christian world today!  He gives a bit of history regarding how close Julian the Apostate came to restoring the Roman Empire to its pagan roots after Constantine.
“Most intriguingly of all, Julian’s designs included a canny reliance on what he knew was the Achillie’s heel of the Christian faith: hypocrisy – our constant Christian failure to practice what we preach.  It is true that he famously acknowledged where the love and care of Christians outstripped that of his fellow pagans. [“it is disgraceful that no Jew ever has to beg and the wretched Galileans take better care our our poor, as well as their own than we do.”] But he also counted on the well-known Christian capacity for division and strife that ran directly counter to Jesus’ call for unity in his prayer before His arrest.
Julian even calculated that, counting on Christian hypocrisy, he could use toleration to deliberately foster Christian disunity.  So when he became emperor, he called the Christian bishops together and told them to sort out their differences and live in peace — knowing that was probably the best way to intensify their differences and destroy their unity.  Experience had taught him, he remarked to those around, that “no wild beasts are as dangerous to man as Christians are to each other.”
Mr. Guinness continues, “Earlier emperors had thrown Christians to the lions, and the faith flourished through persecution.  But while the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church, the battles of the faithful are the scandal of the faith.  Better to let Christians hurt their own cause by fighting amo9ng each other like wild animals.  When Christians fight with Christians, there is an important sense in which both are defeated already.”

Certainly some important food for thought as we reflect on the divisions and even wars of the 20th Century and our current ability to engage anywhere in the world via the Internet.

Tomorrow and the days ahead, Lord willing we learn why we are all hypocrites now and why that is an advantage for our modern evangelism!