15 May 2008

not quite to the point?

"Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

Spe Salvi
section 44

It seems to me, however, that Ivan Karamazov doesn't especially object to the reconciliation of the evildoer with the victim. In fact, he seems quite ready to accept this. What we cannot accept is that innocence should be violated for the sake of salvation.

"Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature — that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance — and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.”

“No, I wouldn’t consent,” said Alyosha softly."

The Brothers Karamazov, Book V.4

It seems to me that the crux of Ivan's complaint against Christianity is that it demands that innocent people suffer so that the world may be saved. It isn't the vision of the lion lying down with the lamb but the child covered in excrement that compels Ivan to say: "It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket."