Kerry McAvoy has written an interesting post on evil What Evil People Have Taught Me, which came to my attention because she referred to my earlier post on People of the Lie. She poses an interesting question, can evil people be ‘saved’ or redeemed, and suggests that this may not be possible.
To recap, my post picked out three major characteristics which give warning signs of evil:
refusal to face the evil within, denial of one’s own guilt, often means projecting onto others and scapegoating.
an extreme narcissism, termed malignant narcissism by Erich Fromm.
a strong will to control others, leading to manipulative behaviours, demanding loyalty,…
We tend to think that all people with evil characteristics can be redeemed, a speciality of Christianity. But what if the characteristics are so strongly built in that they are effectively caught in a world of their own, surrounded by the courtiers willing to go along with them? Adolph Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Napoleon come to mind.
As Kerry suggests, we can face them with the truth:
Our defense against such people is to stand firm in our convictions. To refuse to bow and tremble in fear. Truth is our best weapon.
Reality is the other corrective. Such as when a UK cabinet minister was sent to prison for his misdeeds and emerged from the experience a changed man, redeemed. Redemption has to be a possibility, but is difficult to envisage in cases such as Hitler and Napoleon. It would seem that there are degrees of evil.
Any thoughts on redemption?