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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Freedom

The post below on the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness kept me wondering about the subject, and I thought I'd post a little more on it. When I was in college, one of my philosophy teachers had us read The Grand Inquisitor by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

The Grand Inquisitor is a parable told by Ivan to Alyosha in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880). Ivan and Alyosha are brothers; Ivan a committed atheist, while Alyosha a novice monk ..... The tale is told by Ivan with brief interruptive questions by Alyosha. In the tale, Christ comes back to earth in Seville at the time of the Inquisition. Jesus performs a number of miracles (echoing miracles from the Gospels). The people recognize Him and adore Him, but He is arrested by Inquisition leaders and sentenced to be burned to death the next day. The Grand Inquisitor visits Him in His cell to tell Him that the Church no longer needs Him. The main portion of the text is the Inquisitor explaining to Jesus why His return would interfere with the mission of the church.

The Inquisitor frames his denunciation of Jesus around the three questions Satan asked Jesus during the temptation of Christ in the desert. These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom. The Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature, though. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them. Thus, he implies that Jesus, in giving humans freedom to choose, has excluded the majority of humanity from redemption and doomed humanity to suffer ...
- Wikipedia

The Grand Inquisitor goes on to tell Jesus that now the Church offers the people what he would not ... miracle (turning stones to bread), mystery (having the angels save hin from a leap off the temple), and authority (eartly rule). When I first read The Grand Inquisitor, I was pretty impressed, and it still affects me - Jesus offers freedom, and jerk that I am, I want miracle, mystery, and authority :-(

Read The Grand Inquisitor online at Project Gutenberg

And there's an iteresting article on the subject - The Ethical and Structural Significance of the Three Temptations in The Brothers Karamazov


- 16th century master illuminator Simon Bening's depiction of the devil approaching Jesus with a stone to be turned into bread


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My spiritual friends tell me in thoughts which is slowly turning to faith that Jesus knew that Satan was trying to short change us.

Satan knew that with faith, just one of our days can be like a tree planted by a river which can produce unknown fruits.

As far as I'm concerned that's Chicken feed and anything we do for God is never lost but is quietly multiplied. It might be hard to believe but whatever we do in The Present affects our Pass and our Future and can overflow into our Present in other words our cup can overflow. Too much of it could drive us crazy! (lol)

Hang in there with Christ Crystal cause Faith tells me that in Time you'll get more miracle, mystery, and authority than you can possibly handle:-(

9:11 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Good advice, Victor :-)

11:50 AM  

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