bread 11-24-13- Dostoyevsky’s Legend of The Grand Inquisitor

from 11-24-13 – Rev. Dr. Richard Lischer sermon at Duke University Chapel titled “The Interrogation”–11-24-13.pdf

I thought this was timely, insightful and provocative; and the reference made me dust off my copy of The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky to read ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ parable (Ivan to his brother Alyosha).

“In Dostoyevski’s “The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” the church and state in 16th-century Spain have conspired in a reign of terror and despotism. Enemies of the truth are being burned at the stake by the hundreds. Into this scene of church and state-sponsored violence the Lord Jesus returns to be interrogated. He does not return in glory but in abject humility to stand with those who are being beaten down and crushed.  The general immediately recognizes him and tells him in effect, ‘Jesus, if what you stand for should become the norm in this city we would lose all power and all control. Go away, or “Tomorrow, I will burn you.’” In every generation, including our own, Jesus finds himself the interrogated rather than the interrogator.  Of course, a Christian culture like ours is far more respectful of Jesus than ancient Rome, but no more obedient to his claims.

If Jesus had been a politician, we would say he had certain signature policies that demonstrated who God is. Apparently, he favored the poor and called them “blessed.” But today even his followers support policies that injure the poor and punish them for being poor. He said the Son of Man has no place to lay his head, but we have a law against giving a doughnut to a homeless person in a public park. In a moment of crisis he once said, “Those who live by the sword will perish by the sword;” so we have exchanged our swords for bigger and more potent weapons. Attempts to curb the power of the gun are opposed in overwhelming numbers by his “evangelical” supporters. It was King Jesus who said “Suffer the little children,” and in places like Sandy Hook and Newtown, they are suffering. He favored a healing initiative for the sick, the blind, and the lame, as a sign of his Father’s compassion. But we have made a mess of his compassion. The issue of how we fix the mess and care for people who can’t afford to go to a doctor is not a Jesus-question. The issue of whether or not we should care for such people is a Jesus-question.”

read the entire piece at–11-24-13.pdf

or watch (38:34 to 1:03:50)


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