Jul 052010

To the students in your class who think no one would choose against salvation, you could refer them to Nietzche, or to Ivan in the Brothers Karamazov…

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The story is told by Ivan to Alyosha, who are brothers (The Brothers Karamazov) of The Grand Inquisitor, during the Inquisition. It is a story that Ivan has written and is relating to his brother where Christ comes back, and the GI recognizes Him, and throws him in jail.

We learn that the GI is a Jesuit – a high up leader of the Roman Catholic Church – who supposedly loves humanity, who has suffered in solitude, following the Way of Christ. But he has come to the conclusion that man is too weak for the freedom that Christ gave him when he denied the 3 temptations of Satan. The GI is furious at Christ for not taking the offer, because, as he argues, it would have united all of humanity in a worldwide, harmonious kingdom on earth, accomplishing and satisfying everything that mankind strives, suffers, and longs for.

“In accepting the kingdom of the world and Caesar’s purple, one
would found a universal kingdom and secure to mankind eternal peace.”

The GI argues that Christ has denied mankind this great kingdom and given them instead a freedom which they do not want, and do not accept. Thus, the GI reveals the true mission of the Roman Catholic Church (according to Ivan, who is telling the story) which is to finish the job for which Christ came, correcting his error in denying Satan.

But it is only then that men will see the beginning of a kingdom of
peace and happiness. Thou art proud of Thine own elect, but Thou
has none other but these elect, and we–we will give rest to all.

The GI argues (in a rant to Christ, who is imprisoned) that most of mankind cannot or will not use their free will to choose the Way of Christ (the only path to true freedom), but rather, the vast majority of mankind will use their free will to choose the desires of the flesh, thus turning their back on freedom and choosing sin and worldly destruction and death. Supposedly, the GI has not lost faith in the Way that Christ has shown, but he does not believe man can rise to the challenge and because he has not (supposedly) lost his love of mankind, he has decided to deny Christ and to deceive mankind, giving them what they “really” want so that they may go joyfully and peacefully to the worldly death and destruction they will inevitably choose, all the while believing that they are destined for everlasting peace in heaven. According to Ivan, mankind is doomed, even under Christ’s plan, since they are too weak to follow His Way. Thus Ivan (the GI’s) argument is that since mankind is largely doomed the job of the Roman Catholic Church is to make them believe otherwise so that they may have at least some temporary joy and peace, albeit illusory. To Christ, the GI says:

Thinkest Thou we shall be right or still lying?
They will convince themselves of our rightness, for they will see
what a depth of degrading slavery and strife that liberty of
Thine has led them into. Liberty, Freedom of Thought and
Conscience, and Science will lead them into such impassable
chasms, place them face to face before such wonders and insoluble
mysteries, that some of them–more rebellious and ferocious than
the rest–will destroy themselves; others–rebellious but weak
–will destroy each other; while the remainder, weak, helpless
and miserable, will crawl back to our feet and cry: “‘Yes; right
were ye, oh Fathers of Jesus; ye alone are in possession of His
mystery, and we return to you, praying that ye save us from


Who separated the flock and scattered it over ways
unknown if it be not Thee? But we will gather the sheep once more
and subject them to our will for ever. We will prove to them
their own weakness and make them humble again, whilst with Thee
they have learnt but pride, for Thou hast made more of them than
they ever were worth.

We will give them that quiet, humble
happiness, which alone benefits such weak, foolish creatures as
they are, and having once had proved to them their weakness, they
will become timid and obedient, and gather around us as chickens
around their hen. They will wonder at and feel a superstitious
admiration for us, and feel proud to be led by men so powerful
and wise that a handful of them can subject a flock a thousand
millions strong. Gradually men will begin to fear us. They will
nervously dread our slightest anger, their intellects will
weaken, their eyes become as easily accessible to tears as those
of children and women; but we will teach them an easy transition
from grief and tears to laughter, childish joy and mirthful song.
Yes; we will make them work like slaves, but during their
recreation hours they shall have an innocent child-like life,
full of play and merry laughter. We will even permit them sin,
for, weak and helpless, they will feel the more love for us for
permitting them to indulge in it.

We will tell them that every
kind of sin will be remitted to them, so long as it is done with
our permission; that we take all these sins upon ourselves, for
we so love the world, that we are even willing to sacrifice our
souls for its satisfaction. And, appearing before them in the
light of their scapegoats and redeemers, we shall be adored the
more for it. They will have no secrets from us. It will rest with
us to permit them to live with their wives and concubines, or to
forbid them, to have children or remain childless, either way
depending on the degree of their obedience to us; and they will
submit most joyfully to us the most agonizing secrets of their
souls–all, all will they lay down at our feet, and we will
authorize and remit them all in Thy name, and they will believe
us and accept our mediation with rapture, as it will deliver them
from their greatest anxiety and torture–that of having to
decide freely for themselves.

And all will be happy, all except
the one or two hundred thousands of their rulers. For it is but
we, we the keepers of the great Mystery who will be miserable.

There will be thousands of millions of happy infants, and one
hundred thousand martyrs who have taken upon themselves the curse
of knowledge of good and evil. Peaceable will be their end, and
peacefully will they die, in Thy name, to find behind the portals
of the grave–but death. But we will keep the secret inviolate,
and deceive them for their own good with the mirage of life
eternal in Thy kingdom. For, were there really anything like life
beyond the grave, surely it would never fall to the lot of such
as they!


Know then that I fear Thee
not. Know that I too have lived in the dreary wilderness, where I
fed upon locusts and roots, that I too have blessed freedom with
which thou hast blessed men, and that I too have once prepared to
join the ranks of Thy elect, the proud and the mighty. But I
awoke from my delusion and refused since then to serve insanity.
I returned to join the legion of those who corrected Thy
mistakes. I left the proud and returned to the really humble, and
for their own happiness. What I now tell thee will come to pass,
and our kingdom shall be built, I tell Thee not later than
to-morrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock which at one simple
motion of my hand will rush to add burning coals to Thy stake, on
which I will burn Thee for having dared to come and trouble us in
our work. For, if there ever was one who deserved more than any
of the others our inquisitorial fires–it is Thee! To-morrow I
will burn Thee. Dixi’.”

Alyosha is horrified by his brother’s story…

“A precious piece of information, notwithstanding your ‘not
that.’ I ask you, why should the Inquisitors and the Jesuits of
your imagination live but for the attainment of ‘mean material
pleasures?’ Why should there not be found among them one single
genuine martyr suffering under a great and holy idea and loving
humanity with all his heart? Now let us suppose that among all
these Jesuits thirsting and hungering but after ‘mean material
pleasures’ there may be one, just one like my old Inquisitor, who
had himself fed upon roots in the wilderness, suffered the
tortures of damnation while trying to conquer flesh, in order to
become free and perfect, but who had never ceased to love
humanity, and who one day prophetically beheld the truth; who saw
as plain as he could see that the bulk of humanity could never be
happy under the old system, that it was not for them that the
great Idealist had come and died and dreamt of His Universal
Harmony. Having realized that truth, he returned into the world
and joined–intelligent and practical people. Is this so

“Joined whom? What intelligent and practical people?” exclaimed
Alyosha quite excited. “Why should they be more intelligent than
other men, and what secrets and mysteries can they have? They
have neither. Atheism and infidelity is all the secret they have.
Your Inquisitor does not believe in God, and that is all the
Mystery there is in it!”

“It may be so. You have guessed rightly there. And it is so, and
that is his whole secret; but is this not the acutest sufferings
for such a man as he, who killed all his young life in asceticism
in the desert, and yet could not cure himself of his love towards
his fellowmen? Toward the end of his life he becomes convinced
that it is only by following the advice of the great and terrible
spirit that the fate of these millions of weak rebels, these
‘half-finished samples of humanity created in mockery’ can be
made tolerable. And once convinced of it, he sees as clearly
that to achieve that object, one must follow blindly the guidance
of the wise spirit, the fearful spirit of death and destruction,
hence accept a system of lies and deception and lead humanity
consciously this time toward death and destruction, and moreover,
be deceiving them all the while in order to prevent them from
realizing where they are being led, and so force the miserable
blind men to feel happy, at least while here on earth. And note
this: a wholesale deception in the name of Him, in whose ideal
the old man had so passionately, so fervently, believed during
nearly his whole life! Is this no suffering? And were such a
solitary exception found amidst, and at the head of, that army
‘that thirsts for power but for the sake of the mean pleasures of
life,’ think you one such man would not suffice to bring on a
tragedy? Moreover, one single man like my Inquisitor as a
principal leader, would prove sufficient to discover the real
guiding idea of the Romish system with all its armies of Jesuits,
the greatest and chiefest conviction that the solitary type
described in my poem has at no time ever disappeared from among
the chief leaders of that movement. Who knows but that terrible
old man, loving humanity so stubbornly and in such an original
way, exists even in our days in the shape of a whole host of such
solitary exceptions, whose existence is not due to mere chance,
but to a well-defined association born of mutual consent, to a
secret league, organized several centuries back, in order to
guard the Mystery from the indiscreet eyes of the miserable and
weak people, and only in view of their own happiness? And so it
is; it cannot be otherwise. I suspect that even Masons have some
such Mystery underlying the basis of their organization, and that
it is just the reason why the Roman Catholic clergy hate them so,
dreading to find in them rivals, competition, the dismemberment
of the unity of the idea, for the realization of which one flock
and one Shepherd are needed. However, in defending my idea, I
look like an author whose production is unable to stand
criticism. Enough of this.”

“You are, perhaps, a Mason yourself!” exclaimed Alyosha. “You do
not believe in God,” he added, with a note of profound sadness in
his voice. But suddenly remarking that his brother was looking at
him with mockery, “How do you mean then to bring your poem to a
close?” he unexpectedly enquired, casting his eyes downward, “or
does it break off here?”

“My intention is to end it with the following scene: Having
disburdened his heart, the Inquisitor waits for some time to hear
his prisoner speak in His turn. His silence weighs upon him. He
has seen that his captive has been attentively listening to him
all the time, with His eyes fixed penetratingly and softly on the
face of his jailer, and evidently bent upon not replying to him.
The old man longs to hear His voice, to hear Him reply; better
words of bitterness and scorn than His silence. Suddenly He
rises; slowly and silently approaching the Inquisitor, He bends
towards him and softly kisses the bloodless, four-score and-ten-
year-old lips. That is all the answer. The Grand Inquisitor
shudders. There is a convulsive twitch at the corner of his
mouth. He goes to the door, opens it, and addressing Him, ‘Go,’
he says, ‘go, and return no more… do not come again… never,
never!’ and–lets Him out into the dark night. The prisoner

“And the old man?”

“The kiss burns his heart, but the old man remains firm in his
own ideas and unbelief.”

“And you, together with him? You too!” despairingly exclaimed
Alyosha, while Ivan burst into a still louder fit of laughter.

If the students in your class do not recognize the “Humanism” of Christopher Hitchens in this story put forth by Ivan – which is the supposed love of man that deems them unworthy for the Freedom Christ offers; this love that would deny them the harsh, brutal lie of Religion – then they need to think again, because this is alive and well today, more than at any other time perhaps. There is a strong movement that actively denies Christ, calls the Church a lie, and worships Man and Earth over Heaven.

The idea that everyone will be saved is imcompatible with what Christ teaches and Christopher Hitchens, Ivan, Doestevsky and a vast swath of modern thinking in the world today, all of which openly and categorically and emphatically deny Christ and His teaching.

Who are they kidding but themselves?

There are Ivans all around us. They run companies, gangs, governments and much of the world…


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