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Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay your tithe of mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law—justice, mercy, good faith! These you should have practised, those not neglected.
You blind guides, straining out gnats and swallowing camels! Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of cup and dish and leave the inside full of extortion and intemperance.
Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that it and the outside are both clean. —Matthew 23:23–26 (The New Jerusalem Bible)
“We all practice the same basic faith but different faiths,” he said in a 2016 speech. “I happen to be a practicing Catholic, and I grew up learning from the nuns and the priests who taught me what we used to call Catholic social doctrine. But it’s not fundamentally different than a doctrine of any of the great confessional faiths. It’s what you do to the least among us that you do unto me,” he said, quoting Matthew 25:40. “It’s we have an obligation to one another. It’s we cannot serve ourselves at the expense of others, and that we have a responsibility to future generations.”
Biden continued, “All faiths have a version of these teachings, and we all practice and preach that we should practice what we say.” Perhaps it is because of this view that he is especially vexed with what he views as hypocrisy in many of the world’s religions.
In his 2008 bid for the White House, Biden was asked in a primary debate to name his favorite scripture. “Christ’s warning of the Pharisees,” he replied, alluding to the firm denouncing of religious hypocrisy found in Matthew 23. “There are many Pharisees, and it’s part of what has bankrupted some people’s view about religion,” Biden said. “And I worry about the Pharisees.”
Biden is a lifelong man of faith. He once mentioned that his wife, Jill, had recently taped a quote on his bathroom mirror from Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard that says, “Faith sees best in the dark.” The vice president elaborated on this: “All of you know better than anyone that faith is a gift from God. Because faith works best when you’re the least. Faith works best when you’re most frightened, in my view. And faith works best when you’re not exactly sure where to go.”
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments.
The following was taken from the book, Favorite Scriptures of 100 American Leaders currently on sale at cedarfort.com.