By Elias Ayala (M.A.T. & Mdiv)
The simple answer is no. The hypocrisy of Christians does not undermine the truth of the Christian faith. It does however hurt our witness to unbelievers. How can we effectively witness to unbelievers if we do not practice what we preach. Jesus said that a “tree is known by its fruit” (Luke 6:43-45). If we are producing fruit that is inconsistent with the tree we claim to be, how then are we to demonstrate to the world the life changing power of the Gospel? Furthermore, how does our continued patterns of hypocrisy reflect the genuine faith in Christ that we claim to have. Indeed, a life that follows after a pattern of hypocrisy is one that is a poor witness for Christ.
Now being a good witness for Christ does not require moral perfection. To some degree, we are all hypocritical; however, notice my use of the term “pattern”. I am referring to a life that continually is engaged in hypocrisy such that the person becomes indistinguishable from the world. While no one can attain moral perfection on this side of heaven, the life of the believer must be marked by a fundamental difference from those who walk not according to Christ. We must remember that from an apologetical stand point, our conduct before a watching unbelieving world can serve as a powerful witness to the life transforming power of the Spirit of God living within us.
Turning now to the particular question we started with in the title of this article: Does the hypocrisy of Christians undermine the truth of the Christian faith? I answered no for the very important reason that the misconduct of the adherent to a particular worldview says nothing as to the truth of the worldview in question. When a person professes to be a Christian yet lives inconsistently with its teachings, that says more about the person than it does about the worldview that the person says they adhere to. It is often suggested that Christianity is false given the fact that it has been the cause of many wars and atrocities throughout history. However, logically speaking, even if this were true, it would not follow that therefore, Christianity is false. You cannot judge the truth or falsity of a worldview based upon its social impact. Furthermore, we could not argue: Islam is false because if it were true, then terrorists would be justified in their participation of jihad. Even if this statement were true, it does not logically follow that Islam is false. It is very important that we keep this in mind lest we draw faulty conclusions from our arguments.
In the final analysis, the hypocrisy of the Christian, while it undermines the integrity of the person, it does nothing to legitimately show the falsity of the Christian worldview. The misuse of something does not demonstrate falsity, nor does it vitiate against the fact that there is proper use and application of the Christian worldview. If anything, the problem of hypocrisy among Christians works to highlight our need to continually bring our sins to the foot of the cross.