Friday, February 20, 2015
Christian history is filled with hypocrisy. . .
I am accustomed to having those who think themselves very fine Christians who do not need the Church remind me of the many hypocrites in the Church and the history of hypocrisy in Christendom. I have had to listen to people presume that all religion is the source of violence, hatred, and hypocrisy and that Christianity is no different. I refuse to remain silent in the face of an American President who presumes moral equivalence between Christianity and those who have used it as a cause for hate, violence, and war and Islam in which the actual texts of the Quran not only justify but compel such actions.
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” Obama told the group, speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
The issue here is not one of moral equivalence but of truth. Strangely, those who feel they must apologize for the failures of Christians imply that such hypocrisy is inherent in Christendom but exceptional among Islam. That is the great lie that feeds such perceptions that Christianity is equally at fault with Islam for fostering such hatred, violence, and injustice and then acting hypocritically to condemn the sins of others while remaining quiet about their own sins. That is a terrible falsehood and a downright lie.
Inherent in Christianity is the call to daily repentance. The regular appraisal of one's life, confession of sins, and absolution do not simply wipe the old slate clean but call the Christian to "go and sin no more." The Spirit working within the Church calls out with the voice of Christ to break down the barriers of the heart self-justified in its hatred, violence, and prejudice. Yes, there are too many Christian hypocrites but Christianity is not a hypocrisy. Just the opposite.
The Christians who are so broadly painted with the brush of hypocrisy are also those who feed millions upon millions every day, quietly and faithfully. They treat the illnesses of strangers without discrimination. They rescue orphans. They school boys and girls and adults and not just in the tenants of their religion. They run social service agencies that loom large in the good that is done everywhere in the world. They give unselfishly to good causes well beyond their local communities or comfort zones -- in higher proportion than those who claim no Christian faith and substantially greater than any other faith group across the world. They advocate for the cause of those with malaria to aids. No, it does not matter who you are, if you want to cast stones at the errors of Christian history you had better remember the good that has been done in the name of Christ by those hypocrites you love to disdain. Christian help toward Islam is far beyond the kindness Islam has shown to those outside its religious umbrella and even to those denominations within Islam.
So what is the greater hypocrisy? I am not sure it matters. Does it really matter whose sins are worse when all sins condemn us? But I will tell you what does matter. Look at the track records. Where Christianity has come to nations and people, good follows -- the plight of woman and children, sick and aged, unborn and terminally ill, economic benefit, education, and every other measure for the quality of life has improved. Before people begin to suggest that Christians are all hypocrites or that all religions share the same moral equivalence of wrong and good, they had better look at the facts. If they cannot or refuse to see this, they lose the right to complain.