The Advantages of Hypocrisy

by Luke Nix

Contradiction in Hypocrisy
One of the objections to Christianity that I hear quite often doesn’t really come as a challenge to the traditional arguments for God’s existence or Jesus’ resurrection. It, instead, makes an observation about the followers of Christ and draws a conclusion about the truth of their beliefs based on how well they follow what they say they believe.

This is the problem of hypocrisy in the Church. Many unbelievers look at Christians and see that we all are not perfect and that we sin, quite often, in fact. What gets people is that if someone believes something, then they should be acting like they believe it. They think that if someone’s actions are not perfectly in line with what they say they believe, then they don’t really believe it. “If someone who says they believe something doesn’t actually believe it, then why should I believe it?”

I like how Ravi Zacharias describes this in his book, The Grand Weaver . Zacharias points out that such hypocrisy creates a contradiction in the life of the Christian (Chapter 4). The unbeliever sees this contradiction, and knowing that contradictions are not a part of reality, they may then reject the worldview of the Christian.

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My Annoyances
As an apologist, this particular challenge really hits a nerve with me, unlike other challenges to Christianity. Over the past week, I’ve forced myself to take a step back and really look at my annoyance with this challenge to see what may be the root of my reaction. I found a few things that were expected and others that force me into a position of humility. And not surprisingly, the apologist showed up to demonstrate how the hypocrisy of the Church is actually a powerful argument for the truth of Christianity.

The Red-Herring
In many cases when I’m presenting arguments for the truth of Christianity, the person will pull out his Ace and say, “Well, what about all the hypocrites, smart guy?” My first reaction to the charge of hypocrisy in the Church is no surprise to apologists or philosophers: The challenge actually avoids the issue. It makes no difference whether or not someone is a hypocrite, if what they believe is true, then its true. Their hypocrisy has no bearing on the truth of their beliefs. Just because I don’t follow a rule does not mean that the rule does not exist (how else would someone know that I’m not following it?). Of course, pointing out that this avoids the issue does really sway the challenger. They tend to understand my challenge to the validity of the observation as a red-herring of its own and assume that I have no answer, because I have avoided answering it…


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