“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

—C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, p. 292.

HT: James Kuschner

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7 thoughts on “Lewis: Omnipotent Moral Busybodies Worse than Robber Barons”

  1. DJP says:

    I have an obsessive banned stalkertroll who (and whose vision of government) fits that description eerily.

  2. soundslikelife says:

    We all know what he is talking about but who could have said it with more ease and clarity than Lewis?

  3. Jay says:

    Thanks, Justin

    Great Quote!

  4. Beat Attitude says:

    How do we tell the difference between OMB's and people who are genuinely concerned that truth would set us free? How do we tell whether we are being the former rather than the latter? Is it to do with discerning our concern for the outcome?

    And how do we show to others when we debate and remonstrate that we are not just like those pharisees who travel over land and sea to make a single convert, then heap hellish burdens on them?

    I often worry that I'm indulging a convoluted and hidden sense of self importance when I try to share biblical wisdom with other people.

    Any enlightening responses would be welcomed!

  5. A. B. Caneday says:

    Thomas Sowell quotes Lewis' insightful comment from
    God in the Dock
    and adds his own briefer quotable quote: "People are never more sincere than when they assume their own moral superiority" (The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy [New York: Basic Books, 1995], 3).

  6. Gary says:

    I haven't read this book, so I don't know who Lewis is referring to. But I am aware that Calvin and his state-church system, and all but one of the 13 state-church colonies, fit this description.

  7. Daryl says:

    Actually Calvin never instituted any church/state system. All states were of the church/state variety at the time.

    And Calvin was never part of the civil government. They hated him.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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