Dear Aby #16 – The Church full of Hypocrites? (part II)

Hi Aby,

As I mentioned in my previous message, one major excuse that people use in their refusal to embrace Christianity concerns hypocrites in the church, both past and present. People like to point to past misdeeds done in the name of Christ, such as the Spanish Inquisition, witch trials and other horrible acts.

Then, there are the present-day examples of preachers, deacons, or church leaders who have been caught in alcoholism, adulterous relationships or some other inconsistency between what they say and what they believe. This type of behavior has led many to say, “If that’s what Christianity is all about, then I don’t want any part of it.”

It must be admitted that there has been hypocrisy in the church, and today we are not exempt from people who are hypocritical. However, just because the church contains hypocrites does not mean that all Christians are hypocrites. With every example of hypocrisy that can be pointed to in the church, there are countless others showing people who are living consistently with the teaching of Jesus Christ.

It is important to make a distinction between the sin of hypocrisy and sinfulness. All Christians are sinners, but not all Christians are hypocrites. Some have a misconception that a Christian is a person who claims that he/she does not sin, but the truth is that to call oneself a Christian is to admit to being a sinner (1 John 1:5-2:2). All believers, including the clergy, are fallible human beings who are prone to all types of sin.

However, just because a person is not perfect does not mean that he is a phony. The distinction between the two is important. The failures of believers do not invalidate the truth. Jesus Christ had very harsh words for people who were committing the sin of hypocrisy, especially the religious leaders of his day. He denounced them in no uncertain terms.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
Matthew 23:15

Jesus and the Pharisees

People can, and do enter the ministry for the wrong reasons, or they can compromise the convictions of the faith. When people do this they are wrong, and the Bible denounces this clearly. However, Christianity does not stand or fall on the way Christians have acted throughout history or are acting today.

As I wrote previously, Christianity stands or falls on the person of Jesus and there is no other person in history comparable to Him. There is no fault to be found in how He lived His life or in what He taught. Our appeal to others is not the perfection of our life but rather, the perfection of the life of Jesus.
(Sources: Josh McDowell, Alex McFarland)

Love you, Grandpa Larry

Note from Larry Ballard on these letters:
Dear friends,

Thank you for your interest in these letters I am sending to my granddaughter in preparation for college. You are welcome to use them in any way you wish. You can alter them by adding or deleting from the text. There is no need to give any credit to me. You can personalize them or forward them on as written. These letters were not written with a wider audience in mind. In one sense, I am letting you listen in on my communication with Aby. These messages will be brief and focused, rather than exhaustive. I do not claim to be an apologist. However, I do claim to be a caring grandfather with a desire to help my granddaughter be able to “defend” her faith as she transitions from home to college.
Most of what I have included in these letters comes from respected Christian apologists: Ravi Zacharias with RZIM, Greg Koukl with Stand To Reason, Josh McDowell, etc.
Blessings, Larry