The Pharisee upon which Jesus pronounced woe is not merely the Pharisee of his age, religion, and creed; they are, rather, the Pharisee of every age, every religion, and every creed, the Pharisee that dwells in each one of us, most especially those of us who fancy ourselves true believers, and regard the rest of the world, wretched.
For often we preach not the true God but one made in our own image and likeness, a golden calf that we can see, touch and feel, and that we foist upon the rest of humanity, a burden we place on their shoulders but which we, in the silent recesses of our souls and in the darkened corners of our hearts, refuse to carry ourselves.
Doubt and disbelief are not the true enemies of faith in this world; it is not these that turn men’s hearts away from God; it is rather the hypocrisy and deviousness of those in whom they often place their confidence and trust. Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, Feuerbach, even today’s Hitchens are not the enemies of faith. They are rather the ‘saints’ of an honesty, so brutal and ruthless, it cofronts us believers with questions answerable only by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’: Is the faith we profess genuine? Is the God we worship true? Before the true God, Kierkegaard tells us, there is no dissembling, no 'both-and', only an 'either-or'. For confrontation with the true God brings one to a confrontation with one's true self. From this he cannot hide, and no veil can cover it.
"We who lament the fact that God is being squeezed out of this world, who decry the fact that there is no more room for God in this world must also be called to account for it. Have we perhaps added to the general crush by preaching a solid marble God that too often alienates man from himself, rather than allowing him to know himself truly and fully, a God that settles himself grimly like an implacable object in the inner heart of man and drives him out of himself in despair?" (Thomas Merton)