In a world where freedom of self-expression is a fundamental human right, the importance of religious freedom is taken for granted. It is through the outstanding works of classical literature that the meaning of religious freedom is questioned and reviewed. Chapter 5 of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, titled “The Grand Inquisitor”, tells a story of a philosophic encounter of Jesus Christ with the Grand Inquisitor. The Grand Inquisitor blames Christ for burdening his people with freedom of choice. However, any person to become Christ’s lawyer would provide numerous arguments to defend Christ’s position and prove him innocent of the crime. As Christ’s lawyer, I find Christ to be innocent of the crimes of which he is accused because he cannot be held responsible for the humans’ failure to use the freedom of religion wisely; it is not Christ but the Roman Catholic Church that must be held responsible for the humanity’s mischief.
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As Christ lawyer, I am convinced that Christ is not guilty of the crimes of which he is accused because no objective evidence is provided that the absence of religious freedom makes humans happier. The Roman Catholic Church has assumed the authoritarian position in its relationships with adherents. “He claims it as a merit for himself and his Church that at last they have vanquished freedom and have done so to make men happy.’For now’ (he is speaking of the Inquisition, of course) ‘for the first time it has become possible to think of the happiness of men” (Dostoyevsky, n.d.). In other words, the Church has come to replace Jesus Christ, because the latter cannot make the humanity happy. Yet, the Grand Inquisitor does not provide any evidence to confirm that his followers are happy. In his view, followers only need to have their basic life needs to be satisfied, and they are ready to sacrifice the freedoms provided by Christ for the sake of material stability and physical saturation. However, his words are not substantiated. The evidence that freedom of religion did not work for the benefit of the humanity is also absent. Jesus Christ did not expect freedom to be so burdening and confusing for humans, and he cannot be held responsible for the fact that his deeds and decisions have been interpreted in this particular way. He cannot and should not be blamed for what the Roman Catholic Church has accomplished in its quest for power and totalitarian submission.
As Christ’s lawyer, I am confident that Christ is innocent of the crimes of which he is accused because he cannot be held responsible for the humanity’s failure to use his gift of religious freedom wisely. “Thee that now, 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” (Dostoyevsky, n.d.). In this statement, the Grand Inquisitor sounds ambitious to teach thousands of religious adherents of how their lives should be lived. However, Christ is not guilty of what has happened to people. It is not the freedom of choice that has led humanity into suffering but failure to deal with this freedom wisely. The gift given by Christ was too generous to be accepted by humans. Instead of enjoying its benefits to the fullest, the humanity decided it had to give up the burden of freedom for the sake of repressions and predetermined happiness, but is it happiness at all? This is the question the Grand Inquisitor will never be able to answer.
As Christ’s lawyer, I am in a position to confirm that the defendant cannot be held responsible for the continuous human suffering, because it is the Roman Catholic Church that has narrowed the original meaning of religious freedom, thus throwing its adherents into the ocean of confusion and doubt. It is because of the philosophy adopted by the Roman Catholic Church that its adherents found the freedom to be too disturbing, controversial, confusing, and unrealistic. According to the Grand Inquisitor, “nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom” (Dostoevsky, n.d.). In the Grand Inquisitor’s view, freedom is unnecessary. These statements are nothing but a convenient instrument of manipulation used by the Church to conquer the minds of its adherents. People know nothing about the freedom, which Christ expected his followers would readily enjoy. He was looking for the freedom of spiritual development and the joy of religious choice. He is not guilty of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has narrowed its meaning to the numerous, fast and self-satisfying material desires. In this situation, Jesus Christ should be released from any responsibility, while the Church will have to answer for its deeds. Apparently, the consequences of the church’s actions will be tragic, varying from material inequality and envy to spiritual suicide. The only thing Christ could be blamed is for his failure to explain the real meaning of the freedom he wanted to give to his followers. However, and as stated earlier, the Church is equally guilty for not showing the best way for its adherents. Nothing good comes easy, and this is a fundamental message Christ sent to his followers. He cannot and should not be blamed for the fact that his followers have wasted a unique chance to improve their lives.
In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky presents a fable that describes a symbolic encounter of the Grand Inquisitor with Jesus Christ. In this encounter, the Great Inquisitor blames Christ for imposing the freedom of faith on his followers. As Christ’s lawyer, and given the charges, I find Christ innocent of the crimes of which he is accused. The following arguments support my position. First, the Grand Inquisitor asserts that his people are finally happy, but no evidence that people are happy without freedom was provided. Second, Christ’s mission was to provide his followers with religious freedom, but he cannot be blamed for the fact that his followers have failed to use it wisely. Third, Christ cannot be held responsible for the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has narrowed the original meaning of his freedom philosophy to fast material desires. Eventually, the consequences of such actions will be tragic for everyone. Time will come when his followers will regret having wasted a unique chance to make their lives better.
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