(Reprinted from Bread Upon the Waters: Columns From The California Farmer [Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1974], 19–20.)
The word hypocrite comes from the classical Greek and meant one who played a part on the stage. A hypocrite was an actor who wore a mask to represent a character; the feelings and ideas he expressed were not his own because he was simply acting.
The meaning of hypocrite has not really changed since then. A hypocrite is a man who pretends to be something he is not; he is an actor, playing a part.
The modern hypocrite plays a part and pretends to be something he is not to mislead other people. He believes himself to be superior to other people and able to fool them. He claims for example, to be a champion of equality; all men are equal, only some men, as Orwell noted, are more “equal” than others, and he is one of these superior ones. He believes in charity, but with other people’s money and tax funds. He bleeds for the poor and hungry when it will bring votes, not because he cares. He pretends to be a Christian, but only because it is respectable to be one. Our Lord said of such men, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Mt. 23:27–28).
As in our Lord’s day, the church and especially the clergy is full of hypocrites. They profess to be Christians, but in their hearts they despise the faith and in their actions they reveal their dedication to revolution. They preach alien gospels and subvert the Scriptures and piously claim to be the real Christians and the true church.
In politics also we are overwhelmed with hypocrites. They profess to be for capital, labor, or the farmer, but the state and federal governments grow richer and more powerful, and the people’s properties grow more uncertain steadily. The more these politicians work to “save” us, the deeper we are in trouble.
How shall we be rid of hypocrites? By refusing to be hypocrites ourselves. The woman who is impressed by a clotheshorse is a woman who is trying to be one herself. The “con man” never ends up with any money; he himself is an easy target for get-rich-quick schemes. The hypocrite is a salesman selling an idea, a false front, or himself, and so he is most impressed by more professional false fronts. Hypocrisy feeds on hypocrisy. Hypocrites get into the pulpit easily, when there are many hypocrites in the pew, and hypocrites gain votes readily for public office when they have millions of hypocrites to vote for them. St. James summoned believers to be “full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality [i.e., without wrangling], and without hypocrisy” (Jas. 3:17). Help stamp out hypocrisy: live honestly before God and man, in faith and in obedience to God’s law.
- R. J. Rushdoony
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.