It is with great joy that I am introducing my first guest writer to Interpreting the Cosmos; Pastor Bob Froese of Faith Fellowship Church in Clarence, NY. Bob is a brother in Christ who labors faithfully in the local church week in and week out; preaching the Word, counseling the flock, and providing an example of a bold yet humble, amiable, loving pastor with a backbone of steel. His is a brand of Christian manhood which most evangelical churches in America sorely need and lack.
Although I live far away, when I visit I have benefited greatly from the ministry at Faith Fellowship Church – my family’s local church. There will be no silliness or flippancy at FFC, but rather true preaching of the Word of God, counseling which deals with sin and rebuilds lives on the only sure foundation, and fellowship in the true worship of Jesus Christ. I could go on, but lastly I know Bob would want me to say that anything good at FFC or in his life is only due to Christ, from Christ, and for the glory of Christ. This guest post is the honorable 50th on this young blog – and it goes to the voice of a faithful local church pastor in whom the Holy Spirit works the image of Christ Jesus. Take it away, brother.
What is the Real Hypocrisy?
Bill met her in the car at lunch. He’d never known such excitement – this was a woman who would make him happy. And so he made a choice, which ultimately offended God who hates adultery and divorce, and broke the heart of his deserted wife.
Oh, you say, I see that all day long. Just like Mellancamp sang: Ain’t this America, land of the free? And what does it have to do with hypocrisy?
Bill’s response when confronted was, “At least this is honesty, this is truth.”
Bill defined a lack of hypocrisy as the freedom to do whatever he wanted, as long as he wanted to do it. Desire had become his standard for truth. If he didn’t achieve his over-riding desire, he was hypocritical, play-acting.
For many, the definition of hypocrisy defies an absolute standard of truth outside of and apart from self. Existentialism rules and reigns. “I want it….that settles it.” Even in the church, we quickly turn to subtle variations of hypocrisy. A popular bumper sticker reads “God said it…I believe it…that settles it”. In this too, existentialism is alive and well. Take out the “I believe it,” and you have an absolute statement.
Joe studied psychology in university. He learned that he suffers from depression, and as a good student, he worked with a psychiatrist to find the best prescription to keep him functioning. Recently God saved him, and now he enjoys church and reading the Bible, but when things get bad, he calls his doctor for the prescription that gives him a vacation from dealing with problems. He doesn’t believe God’s Word holds what he needs.
Joe thinks, “God might have said it, but unless I believe it, it doesn’t settle it.” His life reveals a mentality strongly rooted in modern relativism. Relativism pronounces ethical truth as dependent on the individual or group holding that truth, defying any absolute standard. Relativism accepts an eclectic manner of prescribing hope for intrapersonal and interpersonal struggles, from troubled inner responses to problematic interactive responses.
Relativism that intertwines religion and psychology fed Joe’s reaction when Joe’s biblical counselor called him to learn to think biblically (2 Corinthians 10:5). He responded with, “You must be taking God’s Word out of context. I’ve been to school and studied psychology, and I’ve learned that I have a diseased mind which cannot take thoughts captive.”
What’s our reply? Is it: “Ah, yes. Pardon me. I hadn’t known. Here I’ve been fiddling with something less than the highest truth. Why don’t you help me.”? Absolutely not! The Bible supports its own identity as the source, indeed, the only source, of absolute truth. A true Christian will always fall in line with God’s word. We dare not teach that “God said it…I believe it…that settles it”, but rather that “God said it. That settles it.” We must stand behind Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” Our job is to affirm God’s word as the voice of God to us today, to bring God’s solutions to bear in the face of the difficulties.
A discussion of hypocrisy, absolute truth, existentialism, and relativism quickly raises the question of Scriptural sufficiency/authority. Do we truly deny that there are other voices of God (“truths”) other than God’s Word? Do we bend the knee to relativism when the “other voice” is the voice of real life experience? Or the voice of academia? (Not to deny the necessity of excellence, Christians must embrace scholarly exposition in order to rise above the other voices. We must rightly divide God’s Word!)
The culture in which we live espouses a view that truth is relative, and therefore kernels of truth can be found in other different systems of belief. However, relativism, even from a wordly and philosophical standpoint, is self-refuting! The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say about relativism:
“The claim that truth is relative is, by the relativist’s own lights, only true relative to some frameworks and false relative to others. Hence, it is argued, the relativist cannot account for the status of his own claims…truth is the Achilles’ heel of relativism…many philosophers have agreed that the view is self-contradictory or self-refuting…It is quicksand all the way down. The metastasis is total. The meltdown is complete.”
Dare we combine truth with error? We are more than fools if we do.
It’s all the same different same up is down is blue!
More importantly, God has given us very clear words on relativism (that says truth can arise from various sources) and religious eclecticism (that says truths can be combined). God’s word gives a scathing response to false prophets who claim to speak truth, when in fact they speak lies. In Jeremiah 23:31, the living God says “‘Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who steal My words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who use their tongues and say “He says.”’
God gives us very clear teaching on the absolute truth of His Word. His Word is the tool to discern what’s at root of heart issues (Hebrews 4:12). His Word is the paradigm for courage and success (Joshua 1:8-9). His Word equips us when used in relevant ways (2 Timothy 3:16-17). His great and precious promises provide everything we need to respond to intrapersonal (inner man) and interpersonal (in relating to mankind) issues (2 Peter 1:3-4).
When we cry “hypocrisy” to those who make choices based on desires, we will face opposition. When we cry “hypocrisy” to those who claim other voices of God (“truths”) besides God’s Word, we will face opposition. We dare not waver. Deny systems that give credibility to other voices as truth. Faithfully hold up God’s word in preaching and practice. Not to do so is the real hypocrisy.
 Swoyer, Chris, “Relativism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/relativism/>.
Dr. Bob Froese serves as Sr. Pastor of Faith Fellowship Church, Clarence NY where he and his wife Ruth oversee a Biblical Counseling Center, & also serve as NY State Coordinators for International Association of Biblical Counselors.