World Hypocrisy, Christian Zeal
DEEP in the hearts of most men lies the disconcerting knowledge that religious Christendom is saturated with hypocrisy. But too seldom does frank analysis penetrate to bring this truth to the surface, too seldom does searching examination bring this fact into such sharp relief as to pierce a calloused conscience.
Have you read enough of the Bible to know about Christ’s sermon on the mount? his other teachings? his course of action toward the worldly religious and political leaders? and the simple lives of faith and the courageous deaths of integrity of the apostles and disciples that endeavored to copy Christ as their model? Then you must know that Christ was no militarist, no politician, no orthodox religionist, no financier, nor any red revolutionary seeking to overthrow Caesar’s rule. He honored God’s Word, championed it, taught it, and died faithful to it. Both he and his followers were in the world, but declared themselves no part of it. They were not hypocrites.
It is the same today. And occasionally religious leaders and others see these facts, and with commendable honesty declare them. Such was the case with Bishop Austin Pardue of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, when he spoke as follows on August 7, 1950:
“We Christians of today are tragically unworthy. But just a word to the self-righteous outsiders who point to our hypocrisy; we can always make room for more hypocrites and we cordially invite them to come over and join us. Our hypocrisy is not deliberate, but convenient. The vicious malady of our orthodox American denominations comes from the corroding acids of disbelief which have watered down our convictions to the point where much of our religion has become a matter of mere custom and tradition.
“On the one hand, destructive higher criticism of the Bible has become so universal that many of us modern ministers hardly know what we believe. On the other hand, we have become such worshipers of intellectual cults and clichés that we dare not believe any longer in the supernatural powers of prayer and sacrament. Orthodox denominationalism frequently looks with superior scorn upon many of the recent developments of Bible fundamentalist groups which on the whole are growing faster than any other religious organizations in America. The masses of these people are probably like the simple type of people who first followed Jesus, and today are finding hope and terrific conviction among these new offshoots of the Christian faith.
“Only last week Jehovah’s witnesses packed the Yankee Stadium with 70,000 people for an all-day revival in the broiling July sun. Too often we look at these evangelistic gatherings and dismiss them with the despised term, ‘emotionalism.’ We scorn them as though we nice, would-be intellectual middle-class people have grown too sophisticated to express our feelings. It is impossible to have vital Christianity without some emotional fervor. The day of Pentecost was not a coldly intellectual gathering, but was charged with the fire of the Holy Ghost. It was filled with action, conviction and natural emotional honesty.”—New York Times, August 7, 1950.
One of the identifying evidences of true Christians is the persecution they undergo because of their zeal in preaching. This fact was noted by the Alabama Baptist, September 14, 1950, when it said editorially:
“All over the world we hear of this sect being persecuted. In our own country, in Wyanet, Ill., they recently had one of their meetings broken up by a group who set automobile tires on fire and rolled them through their open air congregation. Jehovah’s witnesses sought damage in the courts but the jury failed to render them a favorable verdict. In Kennett, Mo., an attempt to break up one of the Jehovah’s witnesses meetings was thwarted by the presence of police and state troopers and national guardsmen. About 150 people were in that crowd. In the Soviet zone of Germany 1,000 Witnesses have been put in jail.
“Though we do not endorse all that these believe, we certainly condemn those who are seeking to interfere with the right of public assembly and free speech. These elements against Jehovah’s witnesses will strike just as quickly at Baptists. We look on the actions of people of this kind as being thoroughly un-American and contrary to our belief in freedom of worship. Certainly the only cause for their attack is because these have a zealous belief in their doctrines of the Bible. At least we could say this much for them, that they are the only group in our country who are so zealous in their beliefs and practices that they are resisting unto persecution. We cry shame upon those who are persecuting any Christian group as long as they are staying within the laws of our land and within their rights under the Constitution.”
This editorial accurately stated that the cause of the persecution against Jehovah’s witnesses was their preaching of the Bible doctrines, but few persecutors will honestly admit that, but rather clothe their mob action in patriotic garb, saying the Witnesses are seditionists or communists. But on this point note the following from the Nassau Herald, October 7, 1950, entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses Seen in New Light”:
“Jehovah’s witnesses have been getting into the cream of national publicity in the United States of late, particularly during the current week when the CBC, the World Round-up of News and Lowell Thomas have been telling of the activities of the Witnesses in East Germany where the communists have been jailing them and charging them with American espionage, helter-skelter. There is something in this kind of news that does not jibe well with accusations previously hurled at the Witnesses to the effect that they are communists. For if they belong to the communist stripe, then they must be very poor communists—just poor enough to be persecuted and sent to jail by those whom they are said to serve. We would naturally suppose that if Jehovah’s witnesses are communists, they would fare better at the hands of the communists, for it is well bandied around the world that even the Devil is willing to reward his faithful followers. It therefore seems that we are now morally obliged to revamp some of our too hastily conceived notions concerning Jehovah’s witnesses and communism.”
The false charges of sedition and revolutionary teaching were hurled recklessly at Jesus and his early disciples, so it should come as no surprise that the same false charges are aimed at His footstep followers today.—Luke 23:2; Acts 17:5-8; 24:5.