The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

Printer Friendly Page.

Chapter 2

Habitual Hypocrisy

In religion we have persistently practiced pretense so long that it has become a way of life ... habitual hypocrisy!

In matters of religion the average individual recognizes the weakness of his spiritual situation. He knows what he should be but feels it is unobtainable. He settles for an in between land of make-believe and in some way produces a pretense of religion. This has become standard practice and is the accepted thing. Habitual hypocrisy! This habitual hypocrisy produces some strange goings-on.

A religious individual will enjoy the worship services of his religion. This is where he feasts upon the wonderful blessings provided by his religion. He hungers for these blessings and finds in them his chief delight and satisfaction. He responds as a thirsty man to a cool spring of water; as a lonely man to the laughter of friends. This joy is not found, however, in the average church goer of today. Rather than a happy response to the call to worship there is generally a hostile reluctance.

The average church is trying to provide a religious diet for people who have no religious appetite and thus finds itself in the ridiculous position of having to pretend the folks whom it is trying to force to partake are really hungry for religion. The labor of religion degenerates into coaxing and pleading for people to look as though they enjoy what they really detest. This results in the average worshipper having to pretend to enjoy what he finds extremely boring and to pretend to dislike what he finds alluring. He is somewhat like the guest who has been invited to dinner and finds that the main dish is a food that he absolutely dislikes but finds it necessary to choke it down while pretending that it is delicious.

Habitual hypocrisy produces some of the strangest excuses for not attending the services of worship.

Very few people like to go to work yet nearly everyone Will get to work promptly five or six days a week. Everyone is supposed to enjoy going to church one day a week yet a great percentage find it impossible to get up in time. Supposedly it is possible to consistently get up and do what is disliked but impossible to get up and do what is liked.

A family has clothes to wear everywhere else ... but to church.

A mother sends the child off to school five days a week in rain, sleet, and snow but will only bring the same child to Sunday School and church if the weather is absolutely perfect and a doctor has given him a clean bill of health the day before.

We provide a child with thirty hours a week in public school and one hour a week in spiritual training. We tell him that spiritual things are the most important and are amazed when he doesn't believe it.

When the child is an infant he is too young to bring to church and as a toddler he is kept home the majority of time to protect him from disease. When he is older he won't behave and is again kept home. When he becomes a teenager he refuses to go and we wonder why!

A large family has a built-in excuse. They do not attend church unless all of the family can come. In such a large family something always is wrong with at least one of them so they very seldom attend.

Our habitual hypocrisy makes us say that our worship and service is the first thing in our life while in reality we give priority to almost everything else.

Habitual hypocrisy naturally produces perpetual liars. The greater percentage of those who continually are absent from the services of the church will promise faithfully to be present the next Sunday even though they have no real intention of doing so. Everybody accepts this as a routine part of the game.

Yes, habitual hypocrisy produces some strange goings-on.

Religion is supposed to be characterized by brotherly love. In reality the average church is a place of fretful feuding and frequent fighting. It is a place where folks seem to be forever fussing. A large percentage of today's churches were started by groups who got licked in a church fight and had to move out. It seems people are harder to get along with in church than anywhere else. If a man were as contentious at his place of employment as he is in church he'd be fired in a week.

In the average church the battle lines are drawn and the fight is on. Warring factions seek favorable positions and constantly seek to add to their number. Super-sensitive saints walk around with their feelings sticking out like a radar's antenna constantly challenging anyone to make contact. These folks make a career of contention.

Habitual hypocrisy produces a brotherly love that expresses itself in contentious cliques, fighting factions, and petty partisanism. For a demonstration attend the business meeting of a local church.

The average pastor has to care for his congregation in the manner of a nursery worker with a roomful of babies with diaper rash.

It can be said that the quarreling and fussing of the church is like that of brothers and sisters in a large family. It is loud and contentious but underneath it all is love. If this is true, why try to pretend the situation doesn't exist?

Yes, habitual hypocrisy does produce some strange goings on. We say we go to church to worship. Why we really go is an entirely different thing. Instead of a Gospel Center the average church has become a Gossip Center. It is where one goes to pick up and pass on the latest bit of gossip. The battle of the backbiters! One thing about these people, they are regular in attendance. To be absent is to become the target of the tales that will be told.

Then there is the one who loves to have the preeminence. He has found that the church is about the only place where he's paid any attention. His wife won't let him talk at home and his boss won't listen at work, but in the church he's somebody important. He finds that everything he does gets attention and acclaim. He thrives on this until he finally expects a standing ovation every time he shows up. It is a common thing for these people to move from one small church to another. They like to be a big voice in a little choir. They usually change churches about the second time they do something that is not given wide acclaim and pulpit recognition.

Going to church is such a good thing. It gives one a chance to parade his piety and ventilate his virtue. How wonderful to be good ... one hour a week. One hour of holiness is about all the average church goer can use in any one week.

Fear and guilt are large factors in why people go to church. It is not generally known what is feared or why there is guilt but it is known these fears and guilts become greater when one does not attend church ... so we attend. Then again, where can you get all dressed up and go that costs so little? And the entertainment is getting better!

Habitual hypocrisy does produce some strange goings on.

Think of the money and effort the average church will put forth to secure the services of a highly trained Doctor of Divinity to whom they are not going to listen. They knowingly pay for what they are not going to use. The sermon has to be good even if they're not. They pay the doctor and then won't accept the remedy. There is seemingly no relationship between the lofty phrases of Sunday morning and the reality of life on Monday morning. The unreality of religion in the life of those inside the church makes it easy for those on the outside to turn away in unbelief.

Let us throw away the pretense and hypocrisy. If our religion is what we say, let's embrace it wholeheartedly. If it is not, let us, in all honesty, reject it equally wholeheartedly.

If you have comments about these pages of Bro. Norman Wells works, you may send them through the Webmaster: E-Mail , Webmaster, or send directly to David Wells, as you may wish!