Blogger Insanitybytes had a thought-provoking article up today on a subject that's been a topic of discussion in Christian circles lately. For those following real news stories (and not the usual orgy of Trump-bashing in the MSM), the issues of love, empathy, and forgiveness is centering on two stories.
The first of these two involves a young missionary who was killed by savages on a remote island in the Indian Ocean. The man's name was John Chau of Vancouver, Washington who---at the age of 26---had already traveled to some of the most dangerous areas of the world to spread the Gospel. The controversy really arose around Chau's parents, who publicly stated that they forgave their son's killer. Some Red Pills in particular have been snorting that the parents' Christ-like act is a sign that Christianity is 'cucked', or weak.
In Chau's case, I agree with the parents. These tribesmen are uncivilized and ignorant savages who don't know any better. Those who'd side with the Red Pills would have executed Saul of Tarsus, but God had other plans. It should be noted that during the ISIS Caliphate, the martyrdom of Middle Eastern Christians and the humanitarianism of the Russian Orthodox Church has made Christianity the fastest-growing religion in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
Then, just as soon as it seemed that issue was settled, this guy turns up:
Americans once again find themselves looking into the face of an incarnate fiend who has confessed to at least 90 unsolved murders; not including two for which he was tried and acquitted and four for which he was found guilty. At least those are the ones that he can remember.
Samuel Little is clearly an evil man. Do we as Christians have an obligation to forgive such a man? I would argue that we do not. Let us examine this a little further.
Only God is Absolutely Good; all other created beings fall into various states of imperfection. Let's set aside momentarily the question of Saints and Angels, and concern ourselves with our mortal term on Earth. Now, Insanitybytes spoke of some Christians who entertain an 'us vs. them' mentality. Such Christians don't see an actual difference between sin and evil.
Most sinners are not inherently evil people. They're people who've been deceived by evil to think and work against their own souls. Such people are converted to Christianity every day. Others, however, do die in their sins.
The difference between erring sinners and those possessed by evil was explained by the Prophet Elijah who told King Ahab that the monarch was doomed "because he had sold himself to work evil in the sight of God." This was also the fate of Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus. St. Thomas Aquinas expanded further on this subject by demonstrating that Love is basis of worship; but just as idolatry is a perversion of faith, so love can be distorted to a point where it becomes antithetical to holiness. In other words, the more deeply steeped in sin one becomes, love of good transforms to love of evil. This is why Hell is eternal punishment. It's not that God cannot forgive those in Hell, it's that those souls are incapable of loving God. And there does come even a point in this life, such as the case with Pharaoh and Ahab, where there is a limit to what we as Christians can do to effect repentance and conversion in some people.
I recall a scene from an old Dick Tracy film where Tracy was being interviewed by a reporter about an upcoming execution of the leader of a murderous sabotage ring. Tracy said, "he was like a rat gnawing down the foundation of democracy, and like a rat, had to be exterminated." Samuel Little was never any more than a man-eating tiger who hunted and killed human prey. To talk about the morality of killing such tigers is ridiculous and it is no different with a man who's lowered himself to the same level.
What Christians really need to cultivate today is both discernment and humility. Christians who hold the belief that since we're all sinners we should never judge anybody need a dose of the former; while those who think that everyone outside of their enclaves is irredeemably sinful need a dose of the latter. God is always willing to give sinners another chance, but they aren't helped either by enabling or exclusion.