I know you’re not going to believe this, but The Brothers Karamazov is, like, a really really good book. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the first Christian to say it’s really influenced him.
One of the central characters of the story is the Starets Zosima (a starets, or elder, being a senior monk who is widely followed for his spiritual guidance). And I keep coming back and coming back and coming back to this one quotation as the necessary lodestar of all Christians:
There is only one salvation for you: take yourself up, and make yourself responsible for all the sins of men. For indeed it is so, my friend, and the moment you make yourself sincerely responsible for everything and everyone, you will see at once that it is really so, that it is you who are guilty on behalf of all and for all.
This is it. That’s the basic Truth. We are all Adam. We all shouted “Crucify Him!” at our Lord and God. That’s it. That’s why Jesus had to die–because any of us would have killed Him. In fact, we did. The thing in the mass murderer’s heart that made him do it is the same thing that is in our heart, and there but for the grace of God go we.
This is the thing I keep going back to. I sometimes talk about morality around here and I stress the need for repentance for the sins of others and I frequently get pushback on this. No, it’s the others who are wrong. It’s the others who are bad. Or, I may be bad, but the others are worse. No!
Only when we realize how utterly sinful we are can we truly welcome the saving grace and joy of God.
Take yourself up, and make yourself responsible for all the sins of men.
We are all scapegoaters. We are all Adam.
The moment you make yourself sincerely responsible for everything and everyone, you will see at once that it is really so, that it is you who are guilty on behalf of all and for all.
This is where it starts.