Christianity and hypocrisy, part one

I happened to be surfing Tim Bray’s site today and noticed an article in which he comments about the Danish Mohammed cartoons.

I have a bit of a problem with his post in that he seems to lump all religions together: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. He’s talking about the fanatic fringes of all these three religions, and in that sense, yes: there’s wackos everywhere. But I think it’s fairly obvious that there’s a clear qualitative difference between what we’re seeing now in Islamic countries and what we’ve seen in the recent past from Jews and Christians.

On the other hand, however, he makes a great point, if in a bit of a crass way, in this paragraph:

The Christian batshit-loonies differ from the others in being apparently less murderous but vastly more hypocritical. To all the excellent Christians and Jews and Muslims out there: I know you exist. But you’re vanishing from view behind the cloud of mucky dust being raised by your lunatic fringe; as of right now, in the twenty-first century, when someone claims to be deeply religious, that’s grounds for suspicion of bigotry, greed, and a predisposition to homicide. Which is one reason my little boy isn’t being taken to church, for the moment.

I find this tremendously topical – at least to me. I’m currently working on a modern “translation” of the book of Romans, and in the second chapter, the apostle Paul says the following.

It’s a bit of a long quote, but read through it – the last few sentences are the kicker …

Now for you who think you are just fine before God:

If you know what He wants, and have been taught what is right, and agree that it is good, why do you not do it?

If you believe that others are blind, but you can guide them in the right way, and if you think that others are in the dark, but you are a light for them to follow, and if you think that you can teach others and tell everyone what to do, why are you still so sinful?

If you say that stealing is wrong, do you steal?

If you say that it’s wrong to have sex outside of marriage, do you keep yourself pure?

If you say that people should worship God over everything else in life, do you secretly put your own desires ahead of doing what God requires of us?

If you are so eager to tell others what God’s law means for their lives, do you shame God by breaking that same law?

If so, as Isaiah says, you yourself are the reason why people hate God and speak insolently about Him.

That’s why hypcrisy is so dangerous in Christians. And in a post in the next week or so, I’ll talk more about hypocrisy and Christianity – and why all Christians, myself included, are guilty of it.