Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Hypocrisy

Expelled

Tim Challies’ a la carte has some insightful reviews today of Ben Stein’s new documentary called Expelled. They are here and here. I’ll embed the trailer below. It definitely looks like it’s worth checking out! (Try the super trailer…)

It’s Dumb to be a Hypocrite

I know it’s true, because Jesus said so.

And yet, the sad reality is that this truth is one I need to continually be preaching to myself and my foolish heart.

This morning as I was reading through a portion of Luke’s gospel I came across these verses:

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

I take this to be showing me that hypocrisy is dumb. Here’s why:

  1. It’s dumb to try to keep your sin secret when nothing’s going to stay secret forever. When we hide things we’re hiding them from men because we want to impress (we’re afraid of) men. But what we try to hide won’t remain hidden forever anyway. So even the things we can keep hidden for now won’t remain ‘our little secret’ for good. If you’re a Christian who’s tried to live in sin you know this to be true. Your sins will always find you out.
  2. It’s dumb to fear people when all they can do is kill you. That may seem like a big deal, but think about it. For those of us who have access to computers and the internet, the chances of actually being martyred for our faith are pretty ridiculously small. But even if it were a real and pressing danger (as it was for the man speaking these words), so what? It’s not like you weren’t going to die anyway. If you fear men, you’ll die one way or another and then you’ll be out of their reach. But there’s something way worse than death, and that’s hell. Jesus won’t settle with people being wishy-washy with him. You either fear men or else you fear God. There’s no middle ground.

So which would you rather have? A little bit of comfort here and now in the presence of men–until they figure out who you really are and realize you’re a hypocrite–and then an eternity of torment in hell, or some persecution and hardship now, with a clean conscience and full assurance of an eternity of unimaginable joy to come?

You’re telling me it’s not dumb to be a hypocrite?

Blame the Bad Christians…?

My good friend, Jon Warner, has a post over on his blog that got me thinking. In it, Jon questions the “labels” we live under as a result of “hero worship” in the Christian faith. He argues that even those “great saints” who have gone before us have had fatal flaws in their character which are significant enough that we should distance ourselves from labelling ourselves with their names.

 

There is a good amount of truth in this. I cringe anytime someone says something like, “oh… you’re a Calvinist…” with that look on their face as if to say, “now I’ve got you all figured out.” It is good to fight labels in the sense that we don’t want to either follow or be labelled as following a person’s teachings carte blanche. If we just accept something because someone we like said it, we’re in grave danger of exalting people to places in our minds that they don’t deserve. 

That being said, I think Jon is reacting against a type of Christianity that I am unfamiliar with. For example, Michael Haykin has posted a wonderful series on Eminent Christians through history on his blog. These posts have been insightful, encouraging, edifying, and challenging. There has been no hint of hagiography; all of the sketches picture great men of the faith who, even while being great, were still men.

This seems to be symptomatic of much of the angst and rebellion in the “younger evangelicals” these days: There is reaction to what is legitimately wrong, but they are unwilling or unable to see that there are those still within evangelicalism who have not made that particular mistake. As a result, lookout below, because here comes that nasty pendulum.

It would appear that the solution here is, as with many other problems, merely a matter of reasoning things through. Do we have much to learn from great figures of our faith? Yes. Have people gone too far in the past and made idols out of Christian figures? Yes. Do we need to avoid all labels as a result? No. Are labels sometimes frustrating? Yes, absolutely.

So what do we do? Well, first we actually have to read our Bibles. Believe it or not, the Bible might have a thing or two to teach us about how to view ourselves in the light of those who have gone on before. I wonder if some would even accuse the author of Hebrews of hero worship in Hebrews 11?

Next, we need to actually read church history… in a discerning manner. Then we ask questions: Were they right? Why? How can we advance / build off of what they said? Hopefully this will lead to a more reasoned approach to progressing Christian thought.

© 2022 Julian Freeman

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑