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A Prerequisite for Membership

I have been reading a lot of R.C. Sproul lately, partly for work and partly for pleasure. This week I made my way through Reason to Believe, “a response to common objections to Christianity.” One of the common objections to the faith is that Christians are a bunch of lousy hypocrites, people who call out other people for being sinners, but who still sin themselves. Here is how Sproul answers this:

What happens is that people observe church members sinning. They reason within themselves, “That person professes to be a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to sin. That person is sinning; therefore, he is a hypocrite.” The unspoken assumption is that a Christian is one who claims he does not sin. It reality just the opposite is the case. For a Christian to be a Christian, he must first be a sinner. Being a sinner is a prerequisite for being a church member. The Christian church is one of the few organizations in the world that requires a public acknowledgement of sin as a condition for membership. In one sense the church has fewer hypocrites than any institution because by definition the church is a haven for sinners. If the church claimed to be an organization of perfect people then her claim would be hypocritical. But no such claim is made by the church. There is no slander in the charge that the church is full of sinners. Such a statement would only compliment the church for fulfilling her divinely appointed task.