Last week Alistair Roberts hosted Joe Rigney, the new president of Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of multiple books, alongside Hannah Anderson, author of multiple books.

They disagreed about empathy, and did so amicably. That part was refreshing.

But I confess, some parts of the conversation were befuddling to me.

Yes, empathy is definitely still a sin, according to Joe Rigney

Empathy is always sinful, according to Joe Rigney, because (1) it sets aside all judgment of rightness and wrongness (as Brené Brown recommends), and (2) the empathetic person gets down in the quicksand with the sufferer instead of staying safely on the shore and casting out a rope.

I agree we should stay stable while helping others. If in my work with extreme abuse survivors, I get pulled in or overwhelmed by the extreme nature of the evil perpetrated against them, I won’t be helpful to them or anyone else.

And I agree we should still be alert to “righteous judgment” when we’re helping the sufferer (even though we might wait for a more opportune time to express it). If a confused child trafficking survivor tells me she has positive memories of being with her father in a sexual way, then it’s right for me to speak firm truth to her about that matter.

But just as in my previous blog post about this topic, where the real issue lay not with where we agreed but with where we disagreed, so is the case here two years later. Though I’d like to respond to much more of this conversation, I’ll keep my points limited.









Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.

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