Augustine has some wise words of warning for the modern ideal of compassion-in-solidarity, which has bled over into theology proper in the form of the fashionable rejection of divine impassibility for a God who instead is so compassionate that he suffers right alongside us:
“And therefore, in respect to such states of mind, you must take on somewhat of the affliction from which you want the other person to be freed through your efforts, and you must take it on in this way for the purpose of being able to give help, not achieve the same degree of misery. Analogously, a man bends over and extends his hand to someone lying down, for he does not cast himself down so that they are both lying, but only bends down to raise up the one lying down.” —De Diversis Quaestionibus Octoginta Tribus 83.71.2, quoted in Eric Gregory, Politics and the Order of Love, p. 292.
Brad Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh, 2013), is President of the Davenant Trust and an independent scholar, writer, and editor. He is researching the political theology of the Reformation, especially Richard Hooker (the subject of his dissertation), and other areas in Christian ethics, especially pertaining to economic questions.
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