Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hypocrites in Hell!

How many times have you heard someone exclaim: “I don’t go to church because of all the hypocrites!” Recently I read the following statement while blog surfing: “I can only hope that there's a special place in the Hell for hypocrites. It'd be the biggest section in the whole realm.”

That got me wondering about exactly which subdivision hypocrites do occupy in Hell. I went for an answer to Dante's Inferno, and with the help of fellow blogger, Michael Gilleland, found what I was looking for in Canto 23, lines 58 ff. (tr. Charles S. Singleton):

There below we found a painted people who were going round with very slow steps, weeping and looking weary and overcome. They had cloaks with cowls down over their eyes, of the cut that is made for the monks of Cluny, so gilded outside that they were dazzling, but within all lead and so heavy that those Frederick imposed were of straw. O toilsome mantle of eternity!

The hypocrites live in the eighth circle of Hell, known as Malebolge, in ditch number six. apparently it's not "the biggest section in the whole realm," since Dante's Hell is funnel-shaped, and the eighth (or next to last) circle is therefore narrower than the ones above it. It may not
be a large area but it’s terribly deep down in hell!

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23.27).

See biblical references to hypocrite from the ESV Bible online here.

5 comments:

STINKYHEAD said...

Good morning! I just finished reading an article about the group that
>travels around and stages protests a the funerals of fallen soldiers.
>The group is led by Fred Phelps, the pastor of a Baptist church in
>Topeka. He says "you can't preach the Bible without preaching the hatred
>of God" and that his groups funeral protests are justified because these
>fallen men died fighting in an army the represents a country that
>accepts homosexuality. You may remember the local news reports about
>this group protesting a MN funeral and threatening to protest at last
>year's Eden Prairie High School's graduation.
>
>
>What are your thoughts on this group? Do you think their actions are
>justified? (From what I know, none of the soldiers, whose funerals have
>been the place of protest, have been homosexuals.) Understanding the
>message this group wants to send, do you think they are choosing the
>best vehicle to do so?
>
>P.S. Pastor Ron-I liked your blog on Hypocrites in Hell. I have always
>heard people say that churches are full of hypocrites and, growing up, I
>was witness to a lot of the hypocrisy. I think I will read Dante's
>Inferno

revdrron said...

Dear stinkyhead,

The following information concerning Phelps comes from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr. (born November 13, 1929) is the highly controversial leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, a group (called a cult in some circles) based out of his home in Topeka, Kansas. Phelps is best known for preaching that God hates homosexuals and will punish both them and "fag enablers" (which his church defines as anyone whom they find to be insufficiently anti-gay). He claims events such as the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina are caused by God because of this hatred. He and his followers frequently picket various events, especially gay pride and funerals of gay men, feeling it is their sacred duty to share their views with others.

Phelps is a self-described "fire and brimstone" preacher who believes that homosexuality and its acceptance have sentenced most of the world to eternal damnation. His group is estimated to number between 100-200 members (90 of whom are related to Phelps through blood or marriage). The cult is built around an anti-homosexual core theology, with many of their activities stemming from the mantra "God hates fags," which is also the name of the group's webpage. Gay rights activists, as well as Christians of virtually every affiliation, have denounced him as a producer of anti-gay propaganda and violence-inspiring hate speech.

Phelps rose to national prominence in 1998 when he and congregants from Westboro picketed the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard, delivering an obscenity-laden sermon (with focus given to graphic descriptions of homosexual sex acts) informing the mourners that Shephard had gone to hell and that everyone in attendance would join him there. Ever since, Phelps and Westboro have remained in the national limelight for their regular pickets of events ranging from gay pride parades to the funerals of soldiers killed in the Iraq War to grand openings of Starbucks.

God hates sin period! God loves sinner’s period! There is a fine line between God’s hate for sin and God’s love for the sinner that is often transgressed by Christian practitioners. Mr. Phelps has crossed that line on many occasions without repentance.

Worship & enjoy, Pastor Ron

Father Brown said...

What is your definition of "hypocrite" here? Because I confess that I have fallen into hypocrisy myself far too many times, in that I have said one thing (love your neighbor, for instance), and promptly gone out and done the very opposite. But, even though I abhor this action (and God abhors it as well) I still believe that Christ's work on the cross is sufficient to atone for those sins. Do you agree?

Anonymous said...

if your gonna be a hypocrite be a good hypocrite.if im'a sing my blues, let me sing the blues, if i'ma sing my gospel, let me sing my gospel. but don't go trying to please god and the devil.-Al Green

revdrron said...

Greetings young master B,

Thanks for asking… Of course my definition for hypocrite here is different than there! Here I mean to say that even Dante, although grizzly fun, missed the point! There I mean look at the biblical passages and the Holy Spirit will be your teacher.

You see it is not about you! Nor me! It’s all about Jesus who calls us unto Himself!

…his blood is bibline, ron