BreakPoint: The Eichmann in All of Us

Chuck Colson on the Root of Evil

Eric Metaxas: What is going on in our country? Why all the anger and hatred? As Chuck Colson reminds us, the answer is as old as humanity.

 In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, a national argument is underway. I’d like to say it’s a national debate, but no one seems to be listening to each other. So, who’s to blame for the racism, identity politics, and escalating violence and on and on?

Well, earlier this week on this program, speaking about Charlottesville, John Stonestreet got to the root of the problem. It’s called the Fall.

“Understanding the biblical concept of the Fall,” John said, “keeps us from finding the enemy only in the other, as if the problem is always outside of ourselves. No, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, ‘the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.’”

John is absolutely right. And what he said reminded me of a brilliant BreakPoint commentary delivered by Chuck Colson way back in 1994 about Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. Why do human beings perpetrate evil? It’s the Eichmann in all of us.

Here’s Chuck Colson:

Chuck: For you and me, the answer to that question is as close as our faith, as close as our own hearts. Christians, of all people, should never be surprised at the evil that infects every human being—even the most ordinary of people.

A dramatic illustration of this truth took place thirty years ago, when Israeli agents captured Adolph Eichmann, one of the masterminds of the Nazi holocaust, and brought him to Israel to stand trial for his crimes.

Among the witnesses called to testify against Eichmann was a small, haggard man named Yehiel Dinur. He had survived brutal torture in the death camp at Auschwitz. Dinur entered the courtroom and he stared at the man who had presided over the slaughter of millions— including many of Dinur’s own friends.

As the eyes of the victim met those of the mass murderer, the courtroom fell silent. Then, suddenly, Dinur literally collapsed to the floor, sobbing violently.

Was he overcome by hatred? By memories of the stark evil that Eichmann had committed?

No. As Dinur explained later in a riveting interview on “60 Minutes,” what struck him was that Eichmann did not look like an evil monster at all; he looked like an ordinary person. Just like anyone else. In that moment, Dinur said, “I realized that evil is endemic to the human condition—that any one of us could commit the same atrocities.”

In a remarkable conclusion, Dinur said: “Eichmann is in all of us.”

This is what the Bible means when it talks about sin. In our therapeutic culture, people cringe when they hear words like evil and sin. We’d prefer to talk about people as victims of dysfunctional backgrounds. But there are times when it becomes obvious that those categories are simply insufficient—times when the evil in the human heart breaks through the veneer of polite society and shows us its terrifying face.

Eric Metaxas: Folks, what happened in Charlottesville will be the focus of a lot of talk for the foreseeable future—especially as protests and counter protests pop up around the country. So, as Chuck went on to say, why not use these events “as an opportunity to press home to your family and your friends the profound truth of the biblical teaching on sin.”  That the events unfolding on our TV screens and newsfeeds “ought to remind us that all of us are in revolt against God,” and that the “only salvation for any of us is repentance and grace.”

 

The Eichmann in All of Us: Chuck Colson on the Root of Evil

Chuck’s comments are a reminder of the apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Roman church. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eric has encouraged us to proclaim Christ’s grace and forgiveness as we repent and trust in Him–the only antidote to evil.

Resources

How Could She? Eichmann in Us All
  • Chuck Colson | BreakPoint.org | November 18, 1994
The Gulag Archipelago
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn | Harper Perennial Publishers | August 2007

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