Episode 472: The “Sin of Empathy” & Spotting Toxic Leaders

Below is a summary and my thoughts on Episode 472 of The Holy Post podcast. The topics discussed include:

  • Mini brains grown from human stem cells that developed eyes
  • The Evangelical Industrial Complex (EID)
  • Josh Harris
  • Empathy vs. Sympathy
  • Is empathy a sin?


The EID mistreated and used Josh Harris as a teenager to sell things to the youth. He didn’t know what he was getting into and hurt a lot of people in the process. Then, once he deconstructs his faith and leaves Christianity, he tries to sell more products about something he is unqualified to talk about. This just shows what he was taught to do. The advice/takeaway should be to read older authors, as people who are dead or close to dead that have material still held in high regard are more likely to be reputable than modern authors. Reading older authors will enlighten readers on the ‘well of knowledge that the church has been built on for the past 2000 years’. There are good modern authors though. Advice: 2-3 older authors to 1 new author. 

They also discussed empathy vs. sympathy in the modern Christian church, and if there is a difference. This is mainly aimed at people who ‘are empathetic’ to victims, or those involved in ‘woke’ movements Black Lives Matter or Me Too. The same could be argued that anti-abortion people being too empathetic to the unborn. This is yet another case of reinforcing political positions with theology. There are some issues that admittedly need to be addressed with the ‘woke movement’, but empathy on its own is not a sin. Jesus was empathetic with humans by taking on the human experience. Therefore, the main issue with this ‘empathy is a sin’ argument is that it is taking something unbiblical and arguing that it is a biblical argument. 

They briefly mentioned that urban and suburban campus pastors have different views on movements and divisive arguments mentioned above. The more conservative leaders fear that compassion “would eventually lead” to people not speaking the truth, but can’t cite real examples of this happening. The host parallels this argument by saying how likely the Pharisees would’ve said that Jesus was too empathetic. This was especially critical for the church they were discussing as it is based in Minneapolis, which was a large stage for riots and protests.

My thoughts

I respect the ability of the hosts to dig deep into the Josh Harris situation, and pull out a rational and fair conclusion. I appreciate that they recognize and call out the corporations/entities that claim to be Christian but instead are very profit-focused. Likewise, they give great arguments on why empathy itself is not a sin, and how the arguments being made are no more than splitting hairs for political position and gain. Lastly, although it was briefly mentioned, I thought it was an important distinction between the urban and suburban branches of the church. This is reflected in modern society as a whole, and is another distinct parallel between the church and secular society.

Leave a Reply