Empathy or Compassion? (Mabry)

Stop Taking Sides: How Holding Truths in Tension Saves Us from Anxiety and Outrage - Mabry, Adam 9781784984465

While reading through Adam Mabry’s book, Stop Taking Sides, I came across a paragraph that really got me thinking. To be fair, there are other good parts of the book, but this one stuck out for me. It stuck out for me because I just finished Carl Trueman’s book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self which talked about our therapeutic culture (among other things). Mabry’s comments on empathy overlap with Trueman’s comments on therapy/therapeutic:

Decades of Disney, pop psychology, and cultural Christianity have exalted empathy masquerading as a virtue. We think with our hearts. Empathy, a word added to the English language in 1909, has gone from academic obscurity to cultural supremacy. To ‘feel with’ others is important for compassion, of course; but it is totally irelevant for knowing what’s true. Truth-tempered empathy can be a powerful remedy. But truthless empathy breeds selective Christianity – one that picks sides by feelings instead of faith. Beware your empathetic heart. It can tell great lies (Jeremiah 17:9). Equally, beware your uncompassionate heart. Ignoring others, intentionally misrepresenting their views, and castigating one for whom Christ died is loveless. Love listens, thinks, learns, and still says when necessary, ‘But here is the truth, no matter how we feel.’

Adam Mabry, Stop Taking Sides, p. 87-88.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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