Appropriate Discredit

I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due. I think it is important to recognize good works, selfless efforts and honorable intentions and to build one another up with appropriate encouragement. I’m not a believer in discrediting others, especially if you don’t really bother to get a handle on the facts.

One statement of discredit against godly people that I have heard a lot lately is this –

More people have lost their lives in the name of God than by any other means

This has always disturbed me somewhat. First of all, I couldn’t see how this could be factual so I did a quick bit of very limited research. After consulting a number of websites that were reporting on who were the most notorious leaders in history with respect to the number of people who lost their lives as a direct result of that persons misdeeds, I came up with a top 20 list. Now, granted… this is a very unscientific list and the numbers ranged wildly, and all I did was take whatever numbers were reported and averaged them.

Still, with that in mind, my intention was not to come up with an accurate head count, but rather to find out in very general terms about how many people fit the above assertion by looking at the most notorious senseless loss of life leaders and if they were godly men or not. Here’s the list.

Name Country Deaths
Mao Zedong China 40 million
Genghis Khan Mongolia 40 million
Josef Stalin Russia 30 million
Adolph Hitler Germany 15 million
Leopold II Belgium 15 million
Emperor Hirohito Japan 15 million
Hideki Tojo Japan 5 million
Kim Il Sung North Korea 3.5 million
Nicholas II Russia 3 million
Pol Pot Cambodia 3 million
Ismail Pasha Armenia 2.5 million
Yahya Khan Pakistan 2 million
Saddam Hussein Iraq 2 million
Kaiser Wilhelm II Germany 2 million
Vladimir Lenin Russia 2 million
Kim Il Sung North Korea 1.5 million
Mengistu Mariam Ethiopia 1.5 million
Ho Chi Minh North Vietnam 1.5 million
Chang Kai-shek China 1 million
Kim Jong Il North Korea 1 million
Tomas de Torquemada Spain 300 thousand

The only name on this list (and I had to add him since he was nowhere near the top 20) that fit was Tomas de Torquemada, the leader in Spain of the infamous Spanish Inquisition. Not very big numbers in comparison, are they?

Nonetheless, the real issue I have with the above discredit to godly people is this – whether Torquemada or any of the above men claimed a direction from God in their heinous crimes or not, I don’t believe for a second that God ever instructs men to create violence against one another. In fact, His Word is in direct contrast to that.

It does not take very long for anyone studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to know that His mission was one of love, compassion and forgiveness.

So, why not give discredit where it is most appropriate – to the agents of darkness and evil that corrupted the above listed men.


Ravi Zacharias comments on this…

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