Hypocritical Christians don’t Invalidate Biblical Truth Claims

Hypocritical Christians don’t Invalidate Biblical Truth Claims January 23, 2017

Truth be told, it matters very little if one experiences hypocritical Christians when considering if the revelation of the scriptures is truthful. Hypocritical Christians do nothing, in fact, to invalidate the truth claims of scripture. I would move one step further in saying they can’t invalidate the biblical witness. Truth, by nature, is not revoked, invalidated, nor bearing any negative connotations by those who hold to it in word but find themselves abdicating obedience in deed. Those laying burdens upon others without lifting their own finger deserve the appropriate title and judgment from unbelievers due to them; this is, after all, less severe than the judgment upon certain hypocrites who have made shipwreck of their misplaced faith.

However, hypocrites don’t have any additional power and skill to actually invalidate truth. Truth is objective and transcendent, meaning that man hasn’t the ability to change what is true. Truth, by quality, is irreducibly true. It cannot be made false. Thus, the question is not whether the one speaking of truth invalidates said truth – but if the matter is qualitatively true in and of itself. The messenger’s credentials might be severely wanting, yet the message remains untainted due to the nature of truth. The standard is set a wee bit higher than many would like to acknowledge – yet even for those who do and remain in unbelief, they lower the bar as if they are still dealing with men rather than God. As if, by some intrinsic right, they have the moral and intellectual high ground to shake their fists at God. We are not speaking in terms of human conditions; we are speaking in terms of the glory, holiness, and utter perfection of the Lord. We are speaking of that which is totally “other” than mankind.

Now, one might faithfully argue that the hypocritical Christian’s own integrity to the faith can be questioned – but that is a completely different conversation than if the biblical witness is truthful. Their hypocrisy may serve as a means by which those outside of the faith may blaspheme God – yet ultimately, this blasphemy is not warranted and will be judged. Why? We go right back to square one: hypocritical Christians don’t invalidate biblical truth claims. The nature of God, His commands upon all nations, His mercies in common grace to all men, and more – is testimony toward His unending faithfulness and loving-kindness even when those whom He commissions are unfaithful and unloving.

Secondly, all things generally revealed in nature about God are testimony to the truthfulness of that which is specially revealed in the scriptures. In all of these things, one simply finds no place to hide from the magnanimous grace afforded to mankind in simply finding your next, unconsciously taken breath. Every single thing about you screams the Creator’s handiwork. Yet this pales in comparison to the revelation of the scriptures that many would reject or seek to diminish. If the scriptures consider that all men have sufficient knowledge in creation to reveal the character of God – consider the one with access to the fullness of God’s revelation in the scriptures doubly satisfied. God’s glory is so manifestly revealed to mankind that they are without excuse in their rejection of Him.

The interesting thing is that hypocrites are beholden to moral terms and ethical conditions that most are quite aware of. Yet rather than reconciling with the truth claims therein, it is far easier to simply reject them on the basis of one’s hypocrisy and move on. The intellectual high ground of man will never ascend the peaks, so to speak, and beat God. They may beat the god of their own concoctions, yet the God of the scriptures they shan’t ever “throw off the shackles.” Enlightenment ideals and relativistic subjectivity simply won’t do. Yet ultimately is has very little to do with one striving to prove the truth claims of the scriptures. Most wish to have nothing to do with something so grueling; they’d prefer to quote others, ad nauseam, who have done just as little to disprove the validity of the scriptures. Some have done a bit more heavy lifting – yet rejection of said truth claims, or twisting them to fit one’s agenda, again, does nothing to invalidate the claim.

The conversations I have with those who reject the Bible do so because they reject Christ. Christ makes particular demands upon a person’s life that we cannot escape if indeed we are to genuinely be a Christian or even recognize the truthfulness of the scriptures. These demands fall under His rightful jurisdiction as Lord and are on full display in the Bible. It is far easier to dismiss the claim than to research it and test its veracity. Yet in the end it is blindness. Blindness that is their modus operandi, or more simply: their “way in which they operate” by default. It is that blindness caused by sin.

When a dear friend or family member rejects the scriptures it comes full circle back to their rejection of Christ simply because they have, in their blindness, seen that sin is the more dear treasure than Christ. If the reverse were true, they would study and study until their eyeballs fell out in order to see that which is hidden, yet in plain sight. In the end though, most wish to feign as if they have made such a study. Instead, many would simply say they have and cite examples of hypocritical Christians, or the actions of the god they have concocted to seek and justify unbelief.

 

Image Credit: Hypocrites! by storem; CC by SA 2.0

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  • Colin Austin Barnes

    Clearly, spiritual hypocrites are a real burden. Jesus condemned them more than any other group. Somewhat perversely, I find great comfort in Romans 2:24; ‘As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'” God is not taken by surprise when we do wicked things in his name, his plan is not cancelled by our unfaithfulness. Already in the Bible, he knows and tells us that his name will be blasphemed because of our actions. He is aware of them and they will not succeed – his kingdom will still come, praise God!

  • Bravo Sierra

    Re: “The conversations I have with those who reject the Bible do so because they reject Christ. Christ makes particular demands upon a person’s life that we cannot escape if indeed we are to genuinely be a Christian or even recognize the truthfulness of the scriptures. These demands fall under His rightful jurisdiction as Lord and are on full display in the Bible. It is far easier to dismiss the claim than to research it and test its veracity. Yet in the end it is blindness. Blindness that is their modus operandi, or more simply: their “way in which they operate” by default. It is that blindness caused by sin.”

    I don’t reject the Bible or reject Christ any more than I reject the Iliad or reject Achilles. I reject the judgment of people who take the Bible (or the Iliad, for that matter) literally and cite it in an effort to judge and control others. As a matter of fact, I kind of enjoy reading the Bible as a 1700-year-old artifact of Hebrew and ancient Roman oral lore that is often alluded to throughout much of Western literature.

    So quit with your straw man, please.

    • Gilsongraybert

      If you don’t believe Christ to be the Messiah, you reject Him. It really is that simple and isn’t a straw man in the least.

      • Bravo Sierra

        When you tell people what they are saying, rather than listening to them and maybe learning something about their point of view, that’s pretty much the definition of a straw man.

  • Jennny

    I’ve posted this view about hypocrisy before. The welsh revival of 1904 is credited with hundreds of conversions, but new chapels emptied within a few years. Why? hypocrisy. My father told of fiery sermons against the ‘demon drink’ from preachers who went to the back door of the village pub with a jug for beer in the week, they were known to get drunk and beat their wives. The leading lay folk were employers who treated their workforce badly. but got the best pew and lots of ‘bowing and scraping’.. Translated into today, I don’t want to join a society whose rules exclude ANYONE, I don’t want to be a hypocritical bigot. Sorry, but that’s how many of us see the evangelical church, though many of us were in it for many years. OK, so we shouldn’t ‘ reject Christ’, but we certainly reject most of what his followers stand for.

    • Seeing that Christendom is so weak and distant from the true gospel of Christ
      since it was first preached— perhaps there are many, many hypocrites in the churches.
      A strong motive for attending church on Sunday is social standing and a cloak of righteousness, which means $$$ in many cases.

  • Halbe

    Grayson: If you really have pastoral ministry as your goal, you should maybe try to dig a bit deeper than “they just want to sin” when dealing with doubt or unbelief. This is very shallow, bordering on dishonest. You could start by examining your own reasons to dismiss the teachings of Mohammed, or the Veda of Hinduism, or the scriptures of any other religion in the world. Do you reject these because you ‘just want to sin’ or might there be other reasons? Could maybe the same be true for people rejecting or doubting the Christian scriptures?

    • Gilsongraybert

      There is nothing disingenuous about that statement; it is perfectly biblical to make that remark simply because by nature, we desire to sin. If these other teachings were true – based on my willful rejection of them, yes, I would argue that I am consciously “in sin.” The idea here is that sin is directly tied to unbelief and is not merely what you do or act upon. Is, by your very nature, part of your identity. In that reasoning, it is perfectly consistent to say people reject the Lord because they love sin more. Christ also made such comments in the gospels repeatedly, as do the various NT authors.

      • Halbe

        It may be biblically sound, at least according to your interpretation of the Bible, but it is complete nonsense to those that do not share your faith. You willfully reject other teachings, but because these are not “true” this is not a sin? But on what basis are the teachings of your faith more true than those of other faiths? I completely reject the notion that “by nature, we desire to sin”, and I know for a fact that _my_ unbelief has nothing to do with a desire to sin. You make very bold claims about the reasons for other people’s doubts an unbelief, without any hint of a valid argument except circular reasoning. This is both shallow and condescending, and will certainly not lead anyone to your faith.

        • Gilsongraybert

          My primary concern is to be biblically sound – and there are many reasons for that:

          1. I am not responsible for you coming to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. While I would be quite happy if I were to be so privileged to be of use, it is not up to me.

          2. The scriptures contain the words of life, meaning specifically, the Word is the effectual means by which people come to know truth, through the work of the Holy Spirit. All I am called to do is be faithful.

          3. No, it would not be a sin if I reject these other religions. I do so studiously, meaning I have a plethora of books from other religions that I’ve studied (I was an anti-theist for many years and was raised in a non-Christian household).

          4. The basis of Christianity’s truthfulness rests upon the validity of the scriptures, as they cannot be disproved – only rejected. If we are both honest here, there is a tremendous amount that cannot be disproved, as we lack the capabilities to do so, hence why I wrote what I did above.

          5. In your own assessment you *believe* your unbelief has nothing to do with a desire to sin. The biblical witness is not only contrary to this, but everyone’s own life betrays this. Have you not done things you didn’t want to do even prior to doing them? Has not your own conscience been violated at some point by what you’ve chosen to do? Now, that is a highly subjective level to reason by – but it generally proves true unless one is a complete sociopath.

          6. Yeah, I understand I make some pretty bold claims. I am quite confident that I am correct in many of them – not because I am so incredibly smart or particularly different than anyone else, but I am using what I believe to be an objective means to determine truth from non-truth. All I sought to do was demonstrate what is a biblical causality: unbelief due to blindness in a sinful state of being. That isn’t circular reasoning, it is a conclusion based on a series of contingent things – not a restatement of the premise.

          • Halbe

            Thank you for your long answer. I see that we approach this subject from completely different standpoints. You take your interpretation of the Christian scriptures as The Truth, whereas I do not, and the rest of our disagreement (or misunderstanding) more or less follows. Some points though:

            1. You have not given any hint of an argument for “Christianity’s truthfulness”, or for the “validity of the scriptures”. Saying that they cannot be disproved means nothing; the Flying Spaghetti Monster cannot be disproved either (except of course by quoting scripture, but that would be… circular reasoning).

            2. I do not have a “desire to sin”. Of course I sometimes do things I later regret, but that does not mean that I have a constant “desire to sin”. On the contrary, I (and almost all people) have a “desire to do what is right”. You could argue about where that desire to do right comes from, but it is clear that it is not stronger among Christians than among non-Christians.

            3. Your “objective means to determine truth from non-truth” is in my opinion just a highly subjective interpretation of the very ambiguous and at times contradictory scriptures of one religion (hence the many religions, and the 1000s of Christian denominations).

            4. Sorry, but your “conclusion based on a series of contingent things” starts with presupposing the “validity of the scriptures”, i.e. classical circular reasoning: Why is unbelief a sinful state? Because the scriptures say so. Why is (my version of) Christianity true? Because the scriptures say so. Why are the scriptures valid? Because the scriptures say so.

  • smithflight

    Interesting topic to write about given what has happened during this election. It is concerning that it now seems like more folks than ever outside the faith perceive that a majority of evangelical are hypocrites. I agree truth is not the problem here but rather flawed people. Who even though they firmly believe in the tenants of the faith are not effective reflectors of Jesus. It seems many have lost their collective consciences in pursuit of some nationalistic version of Christendom. Also it is a reminder for us all to both individually and collectively look in a mirror and see if our collective and individual witnesses are the best they can be. Remembering even though the nature of God does not change, we can.

  • TheMarsCydonia

    There appears to be some confusion at best, or some false equivalence here:

    The conversations I have with those who reject the Bible do so because they reject Christ. Christ makes particular demands upon a person’s life that we cannot escape if indeed we are to genuinely be a Christian or even recognize the truthfulness of the scriptures.

    What is meant by rejection here? Who are “those who reject”? Are they theists or atheists?

    Because there is a difference between rejecting the claim of existence of something, and rejecting the demands to worship something. They are two completely separate issues.If someone rejects the demands “Christ makes upon a person’s life”, they are rejecting the demands, not the claim of existence and so would still be theists. It would be a false equivalence to equate them with atheists.

    • Gilsongraybert

      In one sense I would agree with you – however, in another I would disagree on the basis that a rejection of the true God is comparable to any other one’s rejection of that true God. There are two camps: those who worship the true God and those who do not. Now, those two camps can have different ways of doing those things, but they still fall in these two camps.

      • TheMarsCydonia

        That is a false dichotomy and there options missing as there are more than two camps. Do you not see this possibility?

  • Cody Goldsbury

    The other day I heard a story, a man went to a Christian, the guy who got him saved and going to church, and asked him for help. The Christian refused and was angered at his request so much so that he ordered the man out of his sight. Now the man is convinced that Christians are all Snakes in the Grass and is happy to spend eternity as far away from them as is possible. I can’t blame him. If only the Christian had helped his “brother”; he might not have lost him. It doesn’t sound like you have that scenario in mind when writing about hypocritical Christians and truth; ones where the lost soul isn’t someone who just wants to live it up and sin; but one betrayed by a believer.

  • Ficino

    The truth of the Bible’s unique claims is what is in question. For many reasons, the truth of those claims is not obvious. The more the Bible’s proponents act badly and the more their behavior needs whitewashing, the more a “look at the changed lives” argument for the Bible’s truth is undermined.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Hence why the “look at my life” is an insufficient method for proclaiming the gospel. I would actually argue that this isn’t a proclamation of the gospel, but one’s testimony – which is all good and fine, but does nothing to reach someone with the truth of the gospel.

  • Lark62

    The accuracy of the Bible and the behavior of christians are two different things.

    The behavior of christians sheds light on all claims that becoming a christian changes behavior. It doesn’t. Christians are exactly the same as everyone else. No better. No worse. Kindness, selfishness, greed, charity, etc. etc. People are just people. The many various abuse cases where insiders protected friends and the organization at the expense of the weak and vulnerable highlight this. The behavior of some, but not all, police departments to protect their own even if outsiders are harmed is exactly the same as the behavior of some, but not all, priests and preachers to protect their own. No difference. All the prayers and bible readings and church services are simply powerless. The claims of miraculous power to transform lives is simply not true.

    Which leads to the next question. Is any of it true?

    I am an atheist because I concluded that the bible is ludicrous. My behavior and morality are no different from when I was a christian, unless I try to be a little bit less judgmental. The claim that I am an atheist because I want to “sin” or something equally ridiculous is simply false.

    That’s like saying that the only reason I don’t believe in the tooth fairy is because I don’t want to brush my teeth.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Lark, I appreciate your comments, but I would caution on thinking that scripture’s primary aim to show us how to arrive at a good moral methodology. Realistically, the way that the scriptures paint it is that the grand sin of mankind is not one particular manifestation of that sin, but that they did not acknowledge God in their hearts or give thanks to Him, but instead fashioned gods after their own devices. Namely, it is a rejection of God as He is that is the grand sin – and that is the fundamental difference.

      Now, the claim that you want to sin is precisely just that – as you desire to not acknowledge God as He is. It doesn’t mean you are the worst possible person you can be; it simply means you can be an adequately moral and upright citizen, yet because you reject God, you’re desire is being lived out every single day. Sin’s presence is not simply what you do that is morally bad (for we all commit deeds that are bad) – it is part of your very nature. This means that you eating an ice cream cone on a warm, sunny day, and appreciating the gentle breeze on your neck and the taste of that ice cream cone, is enough to condemn you because you are at odds with your Creator, even though you delight in His common, good gifts.

      • Lark62

        Sin is an imaginary disease created so that priests could sell the imaginary cure. It is still big business.

        Touched an unclean woman? The priest says “Bring me a nice juicy bird. I’ll make sure God gets it.” Grain offereings. Meat offerings. Just for breathing. But at least the priest does not go hungry.

        Do you honestly expect me to accept the moral teaching of a book that includes instructions for selling your daughter to a rapist, instructions for how hard to beat a slave (if he lives a day or 2 after the beating everything’s cool) and instructions that soldiers should take little girls captive as sex slaves? On what possible basis should I rely on that book for moral guidance?

        Sin, defined as an offense against god, does not exist. Human society decides what acceptable. Most human society condemns murdering or stealing from group members. We think we are quite moral today, but many who call themselves christian would turn people out of their homes and tear apart families for the crime of being born somewhere else.

        Many who call themselves christian are right now gladly following a leader who proudly violates every norm of honesty and decent behavior. According to many christians, their god personally chose the cheating, pussy grabbing, conman in chief to lead our nation.

        So spare me. Christians have abandoned every claim to speak on morality.

        • Your screed shows that there are so few believers in the gospel of Christ, you don’t know of any. You might consider taking an admonition Jesus spoke to some Jews and applying it to yourself; i.e. “judge not, that you may not be judged.”