One of the more peculiar dismissals of Christianity, to me, is the pointing out of the hypocrite. Call him a hypocrite, two-faced, an improper Christian, a liar, or whatever else you like; but you have only succeeded in calling him a man. Hypocrisy is not unique to Christianity. Hypocrisy is born when any creed is forged, any rules are set, any ideal is established. It is because we are all prone to being a hypocrite that we ever needed such creeds, rules, or ideals in the first place.
Ideals exist because Man is prone to losing his way. Ideals, being perfect, exist in so far as they contrast against the imperfect nature of Man. It is because we do worse that we could even begin to think we ought to do better, to strive towards an ideal. Should Man behave perfectly in every manner and at all times in accordance with a creed, he and his very ideals would truly be one and the same. Ideals would no longer exist apart from man because we would not have “unideal” behavior in order to tell the two apart. Ideals are the backdrop, the wall, the stage, and Man stands out because he is not the ideal. This much is plain.
Even more to the point, Christianity is half-dependent on these hypocrites, anyway. A hypocrite does not undermine the existence of Christianity, for he is why Christianity need exist at all. This bit of bad news, if it is even news to us in the slightest that we are dreadfully prone to do evil, is what provokes the Good News. Christianity exists because it is precisely the remedy a hypocrite needs. Where other creeds, rules, and ideals reject the deficient, Christianity understands that it is precisely these deficient souls who need the most attention. The Christian creed is not unique because it is the only creed not perfectly kept, but because it is the only creed that perfectly lived.
Humanism, Paganism, Socialism, or whatever creed you fancy, is very much a dead creed in that it has never breathed; it has never been seen, nor has it been touched. As fair or foul as they are, they have never been fully kept, and therefore have never existed outside the mind of Man. If a man ever fully kept a creed without any mistake, he and the creed would be one. The creed would have then lived and breathed. Had Karl Marx, for example, been fully–from birth to death– a Marxist, then we could say Marxism lived; but he was not, so it did not. The Christian creed–Christianity– has lived by Christ.
This means that Christ–being perfect in His Christianity, His Creed–was both a human and The Ideal; one and the same. The Ideal is what we call Christianity–what we call Christ–and though we are tasked with striving towards The Ideal, we are never to reach it; and every step we take towards it is through no power of our own. This is why we are called “Christians” and not Christ or Christianity proper; we are but faulty doers of The Ideal. We are only “little Christs”, prone to hypocrisy, and quick to do evil.
So I say, once again, Christians are not unique for their hypocrisy; they are unique in that their creed–Christianity–has lived. Their creed is a personal creed, undoubtedly the only personal creed, because it is the only creed to have ever been a person at all. It is the chief Creed for Man because it was the only creed to have ever been a man. It was Christ who lived the creed of Christianity and saw us Christians, as hypocritical as we can be, worth dying for. If this is what one means when they complain of Christians being hypocrites, then I should find that quite all right.