I Never Hated a Man I Didn’t Like: On Charity
I have written a few posts on this blog against Christian Reconstructionism, an ideology that I would not like to see gain traction or influence in American Christianity. As I have researched Reconstructionism on the internet, I have actually learned some heartwarming and likable things about some of the big thinkers involved in the movement.
Take Greg Bahnsen, for instance, who died in 1995: according to St. Wiki, his friends remembered him for having an “encyclopediac knowledge of the history of rock and roll.” Whatever the guy’s theology, he had an excellent taste in music.
There is also R. J. Rushdoony, who wrote in all the books he read. While I cannot stand idly by and let such an execrable practice go unchallenged (I do not like writing in books), the guy was an active reader and earnestly sought to process all that he was reading.
While I do not mean to poke Reconstructionists with a stick and comment on how cute they are, Will Rogers’ saying holds up: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Even for the most detestable person on the face of the earth, there is some detail that makes them interesting and likeable. The best bad guys in stories are the ones who offer you tea and biscuits, because although they may be actively killing your friends, they care about the fact that you are a little peckish when you come to visit them.
Though Christian Reconstructionists are not the paragon of evil, they have recently served to stimulate my thinking about what I believe because I disagree with them so strongly. Some of the writings on the Chalcedon Foundation website are even edifying for Christian life. While they write and say things that I believe to be wrong, their error in one area does not mean that they are devoid of truth.
There is one final point that I want to make, but I want to clearly establish that I am not talking about Christian Reconstructionists when I make it.
My final point is this: when we notice humanity in evil people, we have to remember both our own fallibility and their humanity. We are ordinary humans, and throughout history, ordinary humans commit grotesque evils on a regular basis. Horrible evil does not come from the black abyss of an evil soul—we are not as deep as we think we are. When we see humanity in the profiles of truly evil people—human characteristics like sentimentality, love, or passion for life—we have to remember to extend compassion even to the truly evil. While compassion does not overthrow justice and remembrance of evil, they are made of the same human-ness that we are and therefore we ought to regard them as human. Regarding humanity, you must never hate a man you do not like—if you cannot like him, you do not see him as a man.