“… it is not ‘hypocrisy’ to simply be a struggling sinner”

A validating, and at the same time challenging, piece posted by Fr. Denis Lemieux:

Hypocrisy is the great charge levelled by those who are not religious against religious people. It is perhaps a bit over-done sometimes; after all, hardly anyone completely lives up to the tenets and high Hypocrisymoral standards of what they believe, and it is not ‘hypocrisy’ to simply be a struggling sinner. Hypocrisy enters in when one puts on an outward show of virtue or claims holiness for oneself while living something very different. Nevertheless, it is an accusation not without some truth.
We have to be vigilant. I say I believe ‘x’. Why am I doing ‘y’, which is inconsistent with that? The Pope is referring to, I gather, very real corruption and dissolute lifestyles that can and possibly do exist in high places in the Church; I will not comment on that, neither knowing about it nor considering that this is any of my or your business.
But on a lower level, this is a problem which can and at least incipiently does afflict all of us. Toleration of habitual sin in ourselves, for example, is the beginnings of this existential schizophrenia. A ‘double life’ for me may not mean that I’m secretly keeping a wife and three children in a suburb of Toronto (I’m not), but it may mean that there are small corners of my life that I have simply reserved as the personal property of Fr. Denis Lemieux, and in which poverty, chastity, and obedience are not welcome. It can be small things, insidious things, perhaps not even things that rise to the level of sin per se, but nonetheless have that quality of doubleness, of duplicity.
We say we believe in Jesus Christ. This statement of faith calls us to a radical belonging to Christ, a radical submission to His Word. To say I believe in Christ but then turn and say ‘But I won’t forgive the person who hurt me!’ or ‘But I won’t take the lowest place’ or ‘But I won’t acknowledge Him before men’ (or any other direct flouting of the precepts of the Gospel) is to live in a perilous state of  “mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness,” as the Holy Father so pithily puts it.
Well, it’s Lent, isn’t it? Good time to review all these matters and make some changes.

Read the whole thing.  Learn something.  I did.  Change something.  I need to.


Originally posted at Brutally Honest.

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  • Walter_Cronanty

    I find the claim of “hypocrisy” to often be rather amusing. When one openly espouses what I would term “Biblical Christianity,” there are, generally, certain moral precepts that most people naturally associate with that belief and therefor expect to see. One necessarily wears one’s guiding principles on one’s sleeve, and it’s easy to see when one fails.
    When one has few, if any, obvious moral precepts, hypocrisy is rather hard to spot. Thus, it’s much easier to hurl the pejorative at a practicing Christian than at a “progressive” whose moral precepts, if any, are, at best, fluid.
    It’s similar to being called “judgmental.” All of us, at almost all times, make many “judgments” about people – it’s usually only when one makes a judgment on moral principles that the claim of “you’re judgmental” comes out.
    That happened recently when one of my daughters-in-law claimed I was “judgmental” for opposing gay marriage. The easy reply to her was – “You just made a judgment about me. Aren’t you being judgmental? And if being judgmental is somehow bad, aren’t you as bad as me?” Still waiting for a reply, but I’m sure it’s different…. somehow.

  • yetanotherjohn

    Simultaneously sinner and saint. What an interesting idea.

    • Walter_Cronanty

      All saints are sinners. To profess Christ as your savior does not magically turn you into a perfect person. In my experience, it does heighten my recognition of my many shortcomings, a humbling way of life that I often find quite disquieting. God’s grace is great, thank goodness.

    • Not a new one…

      • yetanotherjohn

        No. It isn’t a new idea. It’s about 500 years old. It is from Martin Luther’s Heidelberg disputation and was one of the issues over which the Catholic church excommunicated Luther and tried to have him killed.

        • So you say. Which of the 95 theses is this one? And do you have anything substantive to back up your claim that this one in particular was one of the issues that led to his excommunication and death.

          I’m interested in reading about it.

          • yetanotherjohn

            Your off by a year. The Heidelberg disputation came about a year after the 95 thesis. These were part of the works of Luther that the Catholic church condemned.

            Perhaps you’ll believe the Vatican. Interesting reading.

          • Ok… my bad… thanks for clearing up the source but… again… where in the disputation is the reference? I must be blind (though I’m looking quickly) and I’m not seeing it.

          • yetanotherjohn

            57. The Diet of Worms made Luther an outlaw who had to be arrested or even killed and commanded the rulers to suppress the “Lutheran heresy” by any means. Since Luther’s argument was convincing to many of the princes and towns, they did not carry out the mandate.

            116. As believers who are in the process of being renewed by the Holy Spirit, we still do not completely fulfill the divine commandment to love God wholeheartedly and do not meet God’s demand. Thus the law will accuse us and identify us as sinners. With respect to the law, theologically understood, we believe that we are still sinners. But, with respect to the gospel that promises us “Here is Christ’s righteousness,” we are righteous and justified since we believe in the gospel’s promise. This is Luther’s understanding of the Christian believer who is at the same time justified and yet a sinner (simul iustus et peccator).

            The condemnation from the Catholic church on the issue has apparently been lifted. What was condemned by the council of Trent is no longer condemned. The Catholic church didn’t change the findings of the council of Trent, just that what Lutherans are saying now (which is the same as what Luther said then) is not part of the condemnation.

    • JWH

      Especially if you’re Meredith Brooks.

  • Paul Hooson

    I think some time ago I realized the uselessness of the fight against sin and decided to embrace and rather enjoy it…

    • Not good for the soul…

    • Scalia

      It isn’t useless at all. Think of it this way. All your employees make mistakes because they’re human. There’s a certain latitude or margin of error that we all give one another. It’s another thing if they deliberately disregard your regulations and intentionally break your company’s rules. I type pretty well, but typos are unavoidable if you’re human. When I was a typist many eons ago, I was valued for my speed and accuracy, but I would have been fired pronto if I were deliberately making mistakes under the guise of “just being human.”

      We shouldn’t deliberately embrace sin merely because we struggle with it. It’s always right to do right and to strive with the best of our ability to do right rather than wrong.