The Will to Power
One thing that really frustrates me is when I am wrongly accused of having wrong motives. I don’t know why I am so infuriated over it, but it really presses my buttons. I suppose it is because I am introspective and continually examine myself to see if I have an improper motives. When someone accuses me I will generally listen, I mean really listen, to what they have to say. Even if they are really out to lunch, I will usually ask God to search my heart to see if there’s even a shred of truth in what they have to say. So I think that’s why it gets me so heated if I have really made a good-faith effort to examine my own motives and am still accused of deliberate wrong-doing. I feel like it is one of the worst sorts of injustices that can be done to me. If you steal from me, that makes you the bad guy, and I’m hurt but not crushed. If I’m trying hard to be the good guy and you frame me as the bad guy… ooo, that makes me mad.
I think some of this attitude bleeds over into my attitude towards the Christian faith. Lots of people have a bone to pick with the Christian church for one reason or another. I find that I generally listen in good faith and assume their criticisms are warrented. It occurs to me, however, that very few worldviews outside of Christianity even have real grounds for making such an accusation. Atheistic naturalism, for instance, provides no ethical grounds for critiquing others for using power falsely. People critique Christianity on its own terms, that its adherents ought to act in humility and out of an attitude of selfless service, and reject it because Christians do not measure up. But I can think of no case where the critique has been grounded in any sort of higher ethic. In other words, if you stand in judgment over the Christian faith for the crimes it has committed, then I want to ask what worldview you would put in its place, and on what grounds can you thereby make such an ethical judgment?
Christian theology, on the other hand, gives a substantial reason to never be surprised when people misuse their power: the complete depravity of humanity. We all want to appear good, but inside we are full of garbage and evil – at least apart from the grace of God. Thus it should never come as a shock to us when people act wickedly. It’s built right into our theology that people are inclined towards the most depraved sorts of evil. I think one of the real strengths of Christian theology is that it provides a consistent and non-contradictory rationale for denouncing evil behavior.
David Bentley Hart speaks of the difference between two narratives: “one… finds the grammar of violence inscribed upon the foundation stone of every institution and hidden within the syntax of every rhetoric, and [the other] claims that within history a way of reconciliation has been opened up that leads beyond, and ultimately overcomes, all violence.” (The Beauty of the Infinite, p.2) Thus the violent can only see violence in others, but have no ground for rejecting that violence without contradiction. The peacemakers can consistently reject violence by responding to it with peace.