The common charge of hypocrisy leveled at followers of Jesus requires special examination.  A hypocrite or a person who engages in hypocrisy[1] is a person who pretends or feigns or acts out virtue falsely: he or she is a fraud in much the same way as an actor on the stage.  But, whereas the actor deceives so as to entertain, the hypocrite deceives so as to perpetuate the lie that he or she believes or is truly committed to something (generally, an ideal) which, in fact, he or she neither believes nor is committed to.

So, hypocrisy is a rather complicated offense that is distinct from simply being a “sinner.”  For instance, when followers of Jesus proclaim their allegiance to Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself and then, on a regular basis, transgress that command, they are clearly sinners but not necessarily hypocrites.  However, if believers proclaim the necessity of loving one’s neighbors and pretend to have always done so, the situation is different and the charge of hypocrisy may well be laid at their feet.

[1]Greek: ὑυπόκρισις

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