HYPOCRISY OF HERITAGE

Tim Patterson - Executive Director/Treasurer

 

Sabrina and I took a vacation a few years ago with some friends of ours and ventured up to the northern regions of our great nation, to the state of Vermont. Other Floridian acquaintances who heard of our frosty trek said we must be very tough and hearty people to go to Vermont in the dead of winter. Actually it was not that cold or at least it did not seem that frigid to me.

 

We had the privilege and pleasure of staying at an absolutely gorgeous Bed and Breakfast that was a turn of the century three-story farmhouse. It had been recently updated with all the modern conveniences and was more than just comfortable. Every amenity that one might desire was available.

The setting was pristine and beautiful, a 250-acre farm surrounded by conifers and gigantic maple trees. A stable of draft horses were maintained on the property for the carriages and sleighs used by guests. The barn in which they stayed during the cold evenings would be the envy of most any human as a place of residence. It was a massive three story, all wood barn whose rafters and framing was held together with tongue and groove construction along with wooden pegs. It was a craftsman’s work of art. Currier and Ives could not have conceived and depicted a more beautiful scene.

 

More than a foot of fresh snow already blanketed the area and another twelve inches fell while we were there. For us southern fellows, it was quite a change from our normal surroundings. During the day we would travel the area and take in the sights. Sabrina is an avid photographer and wanted to record as much of the surroundings as possible. She wanted to make sure she photographed the covered bridges in this region as well as shoot as many barns and churches as she had time.

Vermont Bed and Breakfast from winter visit to New England. (Photo by Sabrina Patterson)

Vermont Bed and Breakfast from winter visit to New England. (Photo by Sabrina Patterson)

 

Beautiful church in Vermont.  (Photo by Sabrina Patterson)

I have never seen so many beautiful, old white steepled churches in all my life. Most of them dated from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s. Many were established well before the Declaration of Independence was ever signed. They were beautiful places of worship and were at one time the very points at which the great denominations of our country were birthed and commissioned. I wondered, how many of these churches were used as the rallying points of our brave men in the Revolutionary War. How many of these churches were the nurseries in which the great leaders and framers of our nation were nurtured and taught the morals and ethics that have become the fabric of our government? How many of these churches were the launching pads from which the white-hot missiles of evangelists were sent into the great West as our country expanded its borders? The histories and heritages of these hallowed halls were so real and present that one could almost smell and touch the past.

On Sunday mornings throughout the valleys and villages the peal of clarion bells could be heard as congregations were called to gather in these ancient buildings. In appearance they seemed almost unchanged by the ages except that the horses and buggies, that once transported the congregants to worship, have now been replaced by four-wheel drive trucks and SUV’s. But the most obvious change in these houses of worship is who and what they worship.

Beautiful church in Vermont. 

(Photo by Sabrina Patterson)

Today, many are Christian churches in name only. They no longer believe in One Supreme God and they surely do not believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. The Bible no longer is considered the Word of God, and to hold to such a view is to be considered unenlightened and ignorant. Most have become little more than community clubs that come together for social or political reasons. Oh yes, they still sing some of the old hymns and songs of the Faith, but they have radically changed the words in order to appease the modernists and to conform to present day ideological perspectives, being sure not to offend anyone. On the outside they seem to be what they once were, but on the inside they are empty shells of a life that has long since departed. They are the ultimate hypocrisy of heritage.

One need not go to Vermont to see this hypocrisy on display. I am very fearful that there are many today, right here in Michigan, as well as the rest of our Baptist Zion, that mimic these beautiful old churches. On the outside they have the appearance of godliness, but on the inside they are empty and possess only mere images of former glory. Regrettably, this is true for churches and people who no longer believe or practice what they once were.

 

As a family of churches and believers we call Southern Baptist, we must remain diligent to hold tightly to the tenets and truths that compose the foundation of our faith. We cannot and must not allow the pressures of our present culture or the prevailing position of political correctness to persuade us to loose the ties that bind us from the moorings of God's inerrant and infallible Word.

We must also guard against allowing the traditions and practices that we so love, to replace a personal and loving relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we do not, we will become nothing more than beautiful yet empty architectural expressions of a faith that no longer exists.

 

This would be a great time to ask ourselves if what is on the outside truly reflects the innermost part of our hearts. Now would be a good time to ask if we are little more than hypocrisy of heritage.

BSCM State Exec Tim Patterson standing on a frozen lake in Vermont. (Photo by Sabrina Patterson)

BSCM State Exec Tim Patterson standing on a frozen lake in Vermont. (Photo by Sabrina Patterson)

Matthew 23:27 (HCSB)

 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity.

 

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board. 

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Vermont Bed and Breakfast from winter visit to New England. (Photo by Sabrina Patterson)