A recent OP on this channel introduced itself with the combative title Hypocrisy is the Bane of Christianity!.
I replied with this:
You said that hypocrisy was the bane of Christianity… but I think you might have meant (accurately) that it’s the base of Christianity.
A well-respected frenemy of mine here took the opportunity to suggest that I was making a claim and that I ought to back that up… which is, I think, fair enough… so… well, what did I mean by it? And can I demonstrate (by evidence and reasonable argument) that what I snidely jest about is in fact reality and not just the childish mischaracterization of those who don’t agree with me?
Well… as with many an English sentence, it could be read by different English speakers in different ways. Let’s consider its words precisely:
Hypocrisy is the base of Christianity
There aren’t many words, but three of them are potentially ambiguous. If you’re bored and you fancy a challenge… list how many distinct ways you could imagine any human being understanding that single phrase.
Still… the question about which exact meaning of which word meant what in this context is of course one where we would have to be talking about “in the mind of the person who expressed it”… so… my mind, in this case. What did I mean it? Can I justify it? Well, I’m prepared to have a go… … let me begin thusly:
First, “hypocrisy”… Google says of its etymology:
Middle English: from Old French ypocrisie, via ecclesiastical Latin, from Greek hupokrisis ‘acting of a theatrical part’, from hupokrinesthai ‘play a part, pretend’, from hupo ‘under’ + krinein ‘decide, judge’.
In essence, it’s very close to what we now call “virtue signalling”.
Now, I beseech thee, gentle reader, consider the wonderful tale well-beloved by English speakers the World over written by Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Call to mind the excited fervor of the crowd:
“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” He seemed to regard his costume with the greatest interest.
The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.
So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.
“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.
I have long empathized with that much-scalded child… but I digress…
My claim about Christianity having “pretend acting” at it’s very core… with actors all incentivized to play a convincing part and sharply rebuked for diversion from that role… well… that’s the heart of it: Christians are like the crowd in H Christian’s story… although… there’s also the not-so-small matter of anybody who CLAIMS to believe that the Bible is a heaven-sent book that should be believed in and then goes and reads whatever they want into it (as if you’d have the chutzpah to do that if you honestly believed what you claimed to believe — who but a hypocrite could open with “what God meant to say was…”).
Maybe I’ll leave these next two as open questions for y’all to answer at this point, and defend my position further in the comments below:
What percentage of Christians profess to have had personal experience of the Holy Spirit, a personal relationship with Jesus, “a personal experience that proves their faith is right”, etc, etc, etc (the exact form of the claim is often specific to denomination)?
And what percentage of them actually had a visit from the Holy Spirit, has a personal relationship with Jesus, or even had an experience that a rationally-thinking person would (even if they had the same experience) conclude “aha so YHWH must be real” (let alone: “and my denomination has the correct interpretation of Him”)?
Oh, actually, before I sign off and open up to the floor…
Here’s a link and a quote for your consideration…
The relationship that Christians have with Jesus can vary greatly from person to person. Just because you have been converted, i.e., become a Christian, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.
And a final question: what does the word “relationship” imply to you?