The Church and Hypocrisy

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Date / time: 19 July - 21 July, All day

University of York

The Church and Hypocrisy


The 2022 summer conference will explore the themes of Hypocrisy and Dissimulation. These themes open a rich seam of material in Christian church history and touch upon tensions at the heart of Christian teaching and experience, the distance between ideal and lived practice, conflicts between sincerity of faith and the demands of society and the state, particularly at times of persecution. It poses the question of why certain periods of history and religious formations have seen hypocrisy as the premiere vice, when in other periods and in other religious groups dissimulation and deceit have been considered legitimate responses to certain problems or situations.

The place of hypocrisy in Christian thought highlights issues of deception, dissimulation and double-standards, rich themes in Christian history and discourse, encompassing a wide range of topics such as casuistry and priestcraft. The conference theme raises questions about the importance of external ritual in relation to internal belief and of dualist approaches to religion in which evil has no conceivable place in the good. It highlights anxieties around the discernment of sin and virtue and about the disjunction between ideals and practice. It asks about historical responses to the ethical questions of whether lies and deception can ever be deployed for good ends and whether simulation and pretence can be legitimately used, for example, in secular affairs.

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