The Grand Inquisitor on the Nature of Man

by Fyodor Dosteovski

For may years, I have had among my books a copy of ‘The Grand Inquisitor’, that I found amid other old books in a delightfully musty used book store.  It is a book that I have read many times over the years because its great theme of the quasi-super-transnational-neo-socialist monolithic government and its unopposed state authorized program of manipulated awareness is both compelling and frightening.

‘The Grand Inquisitor’ is chapter 5 in Book 5 of Dostoevski’s last novel,’The Brothers Karamazov’, written in 1880.  Dostoevski dies in 1881.

The story of the Grand Inquisitor takes place in Seville, Spain…”in the  most terrible time of the Inquisitor when fires were lighted to the glory of God, and ‘in the splendid auto da fe’ the wicked heretics were burnt.”  Amid this terrible time the Iesous once again walked among the children of men.”  He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone recognized Him.”

The Iesous is arrested by the Grand Inquisitor because of his disruptive presence.  The Inquisitor said to the Iesous, “Why then, art thou come to hinder us?  For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that…I shall condemn Thee.”

He, that is Iesous, no longer has a place among men according to the Inquisitor.”  Whatsoever Thou revealest anew will encroach on men’s freedom of faith…but at last we have completed that work in Thy name…Thy freedom,… is ended and over for good.

The frightening speech of the Inquisitor continues with a disturbing confession: “…today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet.  But that has been our doing.”  The Inquisitor further states, “In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “make us your slaves, but feed us… we shall tell them that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name… We shall deceive them…, for we will not let Thee come to us again.  That deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to lie.”

One of the greatest treasures that we possess is freedom.  Dostoevski warns us in this powerful presentation that those who would take our freedom will do so through veiled benevolence that secrets the most malevolent designs against us.

In our day we must return to the words of the Iesous who said that we must be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Wisdom is practical and highly skilled insight into people, things, and circumstances.  It is adaptive perspicuity that protects one from following the wrong paths in life.  Wisdom is a necessity in our post-modern 21st century milieu.

Wisdom in ordering our lives within the constraints of freedom through our civil liberties is highly important for stress management. May we never take our freedom for granted and may we be ever vigilant.