Friday, July 14, 2006

This is an excerpt from a chapter in Fyodor Dostoevsky's book, "The Brothers Karamazov." I like it, it talks about the temptation of Christ, and specifically the first of the three questions. It concerns the burden of free will, of freedom of conscious. The whole chapter is called, "The Grand Inquisitor" and it tells the story of Jesus coming to earth and then being arrested by the Grand Inquisitor because He threatens the Church's teachings and laws that had been in place for centuries. It's so friggin genius.

"But what happened? Instead of taking men's freedom from them, Thou didst make it greater than ever! Didst Thou forget that man prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. And behold, instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of man at rest for ever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague and enigmatic; Thou didst choose what was utterly beyond the strength of men, acting as though Thou didst not love them at all- Thou who didst come to give Thy life for them! Instead of taking possession of men's freedom, Thou didst increase it, and burdened the spiritual kingdom of mankind with its sufferings for ever. Thou didst desire man's free love, that he should follow Thee freely, enticed and taken captive by Thee. In place of the rigid ancient law, man must hereafter with free heart decide for himself what is good and what is evil, having only Thy image before him as his guide. But didst Thou not know that he would at last reject even Thy image and Thy truth, if he is weighed down with the fearful burden of free choice? They will cry aloud at last that the truth is not in Thee, for they could not have been left in greater confusion and suffering than Thou hast caused, laying upon them so many cares and unanswerable problems."


Blogger Matt Strader said...

A few things, in response to this; obviously it's fiction, for a few reasons, the Church didn't exist until after Christ came. He started the church, there was no Christianity before Christ, hence the "Christ." The temptation of Christ which is refered to in New Testament was given by Satan himself not the "Grand Inquisitor." This may have been unnecessary to state, and blatently obvious, but I just felt the need to say it and make myself look stupid if that was already assumed.

However, Christ did not set us free and then leave us with no foundation. We who are free from the law of Sin and Death, which is pretty much what the whole book of Romans is about, are founded in Christ. We are made blameless because of his sacrifice. Zach, what was your intent on publishing this post? Do you believe that Christ's coming has sent us into more anarchy or did you just find the chapter in the book interestin? I'm curious.

6:32 AM

Blogger Zach said...

the chapter is wonderful, and yes, i realize that satan tempted jesus, it's not a literal interpretation, it's metaphorical, the grand inquisitor represents the catholic church, and they are upset with Jesus for coming back and showing people true freedom, because the church has made the people dependent upon the church for "salvation". it's all should read the whole chapter. it's so good.

12:22 AM

Anonymous katie / despite.these.rains said...

i am all over other people's book recommendations this summer. the brothers karamazov is next on my list.

4:49 PM


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