Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WHY SO MANY TRIP INTO RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY?

WHY SO MANY TRIP INTO RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY?
The casualty rate in Christian leadership in our generation has reached a crisis situation I don't see in living memory or history books since before the Reformation (i.e. around 500 years).  Both Protestant and Catholic sources confirm the scandal ridden situation at that time and how the Reformation and Counter-Reformation cleaned up the mess. 
We all think Christian hypocrisy shouldn't happen. I mean if a gangster does something bad - no surprise, but if a Christian leader does the same thing - scandal.
How then does it so often happen? Problem is that people think that because it shouldn't happen it can't happen - and so when something starts they go into denial - instead of trying to remedy it. The problem then grows bigger and bigger - until it becomes a scandal. For example knowing the risks of sex, money, pride and power - we should sensibly take precautions to stay far away. But people think it can't happen to religious leaders. If anyone even raises such a concern of a need to make corrections or take precautions, they react with defensive anger misguidedly to defend the leader or ministry. Followers think they can trust religious leaders more than anyone else and so don't take precautions with them for example with cross gender-relationships or money. Leaders think they can allow themselves more liberty than others because they are more spiritual - while actually they are also vulnerable. A leader thinks he can't admit to and correct a small error (because such things shouldn't happen) and so goes into denial about it - and it grows into a big error.
We should know the Bible teaches the basic sinfulness of human nature: the natural tendency to rebel against God's commands which we all inherit from Adam - unless we are careful and seek God's help. The idea that it can't happen is thus unbiblical. Church history is also littered with evidence of such scandals, but seldom taught on because we don't like it and go into denial.
Knowing the trap can help less people fall into it. Religious hypocrisy shouldn't happen. But there are two ways to respond to this. Either we go into denial about it and fall into the very trap we believe cannot happen - or we are more cautious because we don't want it to happen.
Philip Rosenthal


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