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The Brothers Karamazov Part I: The Grand Inquisitor

By Jonathan Jin

The Grand Inquisitor is a puzzling story found in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It describes an additional return of Christ during the Spanish Inquisition-Christ performs miracles and then gets subsequently arrested and thrown into prison. In prison, he is approached by a man (The Inquisitor) and he lays out several indictments against Christ. The Inquisitor's thesis seems to be centered around the fact that Christ overestimated the potential and worth of humans. When humans were starving, God should have just given them bread. When humans were thirsty, God should have just given them water. In other words, humans are just slaves that need spoon feeding, nothing more. There is no inherent worth of humans and they are not created in the image of God-quite a dismal view of human nature.

The Bible is clear on the fact that humans are made in the image of God. Whether you believe all humans carry around a broken image or if all have the image by default, it is clear that God created humans with a high purpose/value. This is something to live into and to be encouraged about. God chose to view us with compassion when we did not deserve it. So we view our fellow brother and sister with compassion since we all belong to God. We are also challenged to view people who intend to harm us with compassion because God's ultimate sacrifice extends to all.
Jonathan Jin

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