ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2014 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mailvox: to forgive or not forgive

BR asks about the consequences of cheap and easy grace:
As always, thanks for the work you do.  Your blogs are exceedingly useful to me in organizing my own thoughts on everything from politics to relationships.  Unless I'm completely confused, I believe you consider yourself a Christian.  As you seem to also be a Man of Reason, I assume a large part of your Faith is also rooted in Reason.  I love Reason-based Faith.  One of the main reasons I don't subscribe to any religion is because I find too many people in religions that subscribe to the fallacy that Religion and Reason are not compatible.  I tend to dislike Atheists for the same reason.  Yes, The Irrational Atheist is queued on my Kindle.

Today's question is on the Christian Principle of Forgiveness.  Does Christ want us to forgive people who harm us in the absence of any sort of reparation?  And I mean harm, not mean words that hurt our feelings.  Words and actions that cause our standard of living to be reduced.

It seems that most "mainstream Christians" believe Christ taught that we should forgive people who harm us regardless of whether that person makes any attempt to undo the damage they caused.  However, this seems to be to be in direct opposition to Christ's own actions.  God forgave us our sins not in a vacuum, but only because of Christ's sacrifice.  This to me is more Redemption, than Forgiveness.  Sinning comes with a price tag, however that price was paid for us.  Had it not been, we would not have been forgiven.  If you and I went to dinner, and I paid the bill, you would not say that the restaurant forgave your debt to them.  The debt was still paid, just not by you.

This position seems to be taken most often in regards to unintentional harm.  Harm done not out of malice, but through negligence and carelessness.  However, this still seems to be at odds with other aspects of Christian theology.  I am not Christian, and therefore will not receive the benefit of Christ's sacrifice.  Yes he died for my sins, but until I take the additional step of acknowledging his sacrifice and committing to his principles, I don't get the benefit.  In other words, I have to do something to gain forgiveness.

I agree that a person who makes reparations for harm they unintentionally do should be forgiven.  If a person accidentally rear ends my car, but pays for all of the repairs, it is absurd for me to hold a grudge against them.  On the other hand, if the person accidentally read ends my car, but refuses to pay for the repairs, it would be equally absurd for me to forgive them.  However, it seems to me this is exactly what many mainstream Christians seem to think should be done.

 I'm bringing the question to you because I think it dovetails with the "saving Western Civilization" aspect of your blogs.  It seems one of the biggest problems we have in modern society is everyone going around doing whatever they want without regard to the consequences.  Obviously, when their actions only harm themselves, I don't care.  When their actions cause harm to another person, they simply say "I'm sorry", and expect that to somehow be enough.  Unfortunately, "I'm sorry" doesn't make my car functional again.  This problem is further compounded by the above "forgiveness fallacy", because society now refuses to hold these people accountable.  I don't mean in a criminal prosecution sense, but in a social consequences sense.  Because everyone is so eager to forgive everyone else, there are no social consequences for bad behavior.  Because there are no social consequences, the bad behavior continues, and the harm done to others by the bad behavior continues to mount.  This harm ultimately results in misplaced resources, which leads to a lower standard of living.

An example:  I rent my spare room to a tenant.  The lease requires that rent is paid by a certain date, and defines penalties for failure.  The first time my tenant missed his rent, I slapped him with the fine.  He was never late again.  I could have chosen to "forgive" him because he simply forgot to pay, and not levied the fine, but then what reason would he have to pay his rent on time?  The harm done by not paying his rent goes beyond simple financial transactions.  I have my own bills to pay, and depend on his rent to make them.  If he is routinely late on his rent, I have to hold more cash reserves to ensure I can pay my bills on time.  This additional money just sitting around "just in case" is an inefficient use of resources.  It's either unavailable to purchase goods and services, thereby reducing the number of people employed in the production of those goods and services; or it's unavailable for investment, which costs me money due to lost opportunities (as well as costing another person an opportunity due the reduction of loanable funds in the system).

Taking the example further, if he were routinely late, but always paid the late fee, I would actually be doing him a disservice to completely forgive him this constant "sin".  By not holding him socially accountable for this lazy attitude, I provide him no incentive to correct his behavior.  Even though it's his choice to effectively pay a higher rent than the market demands, it reduces his standard of living.  While I could certainly take the position that it's none of my business, such lack of concern would seem to be at odds with Christ's message.  In other words, letting your child eat chocolate cake for breakfast is not love. 
Cheap and easy grace, as well as ready forgiveness for sins not repented, is the hallmark of modern Churchianity.  It is also indicative of a false and overtly anti-Christian religion that cloaks itself in Christian language.  The parents who make a showy scene of publicly providing unrequested forgiveness to the murderer of their only daughter when the man responsible refuses to even admit the crime aren't demonstrating their Christianity, they are simply posturing emotionally, because repentance is required as a part of the process of forgiveness.

God doesn't forgive the unrepentant and therefore neither should the Christian.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." - Luke 23:39-43

Notice that Jesus doesn't tell both criminals they will be with him in paradise, only the repentant man.  When he does ask his Father to forgive the unrepentant, he does so because "they know not what they do".  So, my conclusion that the Christian can forgive, without repentance, those who do their harm in ignorance, but not those who willfully intend a harmful course of action.

I would, of course, be remiss if I did not point out that BR is making the same mistake I once made, which is to judge the -ism by the -ist.  This is logically fallacious, particularly considering that Christianity not only accounts for, but depends upon, the imperfection of Man.

Labels: ,

129 Comments:

Anonymous VryeDenker February 28, 2013 6:41 AM  

While I do agree with your answer, I wish to note that Jesus taught us to pray to God to forgive us as we forgive those who wronged us.

I would imagine this means that we submit ourselves to the same standards that we judge others by. If we forgive an unrepentant murderer, we may just face a more lenient Judge than if we demand reparations and repentance as a precondition.

But personally, I am comfortable with only forgiving those who have made sincere attempts to apologise and pay me back if they've wronged me.

Anonymous Faust February 28, 2013 6:50 AM  

"One of the main reasons I don't subscribe to any religion is because I find too many people in religions that subscribe to the fallacy that Religion and Reason are not compatible."

This seems rather off to me. It's a primary tenant of Christianity that even the most faithful are broken, stupid, and prone to getting things horrendously wrong. If Christianity promised that following it would make you intelligent and infallible, you'd be well-served to reject it. But it predicts the exact opposite.

Anonymous DrTorch February 28, 2013 6:59 AM  

I was an outcast for a long time when I said everything in the Bible suggested that you must forgive only when the other person sincerely repents. Then I heard RC Sproul and Alistair Begg say the same thing, and realized at least I wasn't alone.

All scripture that is clear supports this notion. Some scriptures suggest that you can forgive w/o the other person's repentance, but interpreting scripture in light of other scripture, indicates that forgiveness accompanies repentance.

I was even in a Bible study where one other participant (a woman) insisted otherwise. So the leader suggested that we both do research and present our reasons. She got so stressed out that she didn't show up that night and just sent a few nonsensical comments. So yes, I believe the teaching of
"forgive regardless" is feminist influenced churchianity.

One more comment about grace- it's by definition free. Therefore it's cheap. But the grace is that Christians are willing (and eager) to forgive the one who repents.

Anonymous Miserman February 28, 2013 7:05 AM  

I wonder how this works in the parent / child relationship. Does the child accumulate a debt owed to their parents for the length of time they are under their roof for the hundreds of incidents of intentional harm? Such a stance might place a child socially and financially in debt to his parents for the duration of his or her life, a kind of indentured servanthood.

At the same time, given the lack of gratitude so many children have toward their parents, a lack of forgiveness might not be a bad idea.

Anonymous James May February 28, 2013 7:11 AM  

I forgive liberals. I don't think they're bad people. They suffer under delusions and pathologies and believe they carry the banner of justice.

Each of us thinks the other is an idiot. But water is wet and sand dry, and that's the dealbreaker. I don't have to mitigate, explain or blame or invoke woulda, coulda, shoulda, when I tell the story of why I don't care if sand wants to be wet, considered wet, or institutionally knighted as wet.

That is what the monstrous form of racial political correctness that will eventually destroy this country does. It obsesses on every form of failure known to history and comes complete with a pre-set instruction manual to show how failure is success and success failure.

Anonymous Mudz February 28, 2013 7:12 AM  

Christ's blood sacrifice was a sort of atonement for the original sin of Adam, a perfect man being redeemable only by another perfect man. Which is slightly different from the everyday sort of 'being wronged' or sins. Those are the imperfect types, I guess.

Otherwise, Jesus did say while on the cross, 'Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.'

But yes, 'tough love'. If you let Lazy Tenant forgo his rent, then you're not helping anybody, him or you. Allowing him to disregard his obligations is essentially the same as you throwing pearls before swine. He learns to stay useless, and you gave your room to an undeserving gent (hypothetically speaking).

Generosity means nothing in this instance, because the generosity is not valued, only accepted, and therefore screwing you while being worthless at the same time. There's no point renting a room if you don't intend to collect money for it. If you had a store, you also wouldn't give your merchandise away for free unless there was some special reason.

Another example might be gambling, (which is also a no-no). Losing money at cards won't make you a good Christian.

If however, you were taking in refugees, or political refugees, or an assaulted woman hiding from some weirdo stalker or bf, then you get smiley points. Even if they don't (hypothetically) appreciate it, you'd actually done something that matters, that meant more than money.

Maybe it's about understanding what things are worth. Human dignity and happiness is worth more than gold, for example, but gold is still worth more than nothing, cos you need to eat too.

That's probably how I would see it. Stuff has to matter, to matter (#CptObvious). I think self-sacrifice might only be one-half of the formula. Bear the cross for Jesus, but don't drag the thing around just for its own sake.

My 2c.

Blogger JD Curtis February 28, 2013 7:21 AM  

Even if it doesn't technically fit the definition of 'forgiveness', I feel that it is in one's best interest to compartmentalize anger/disappointment/ at being wronged (intentionally or untententional) and it's best to just 'let it go and let God' take care of it.

Holding on to such emotion, IMO, is ultimately acerbic to one's conscious and mental health.

Anonymous Vidad February 28, 2013 7:24 AM  

James May "I forgive liberals. I don't think they're bad people."

No man is good, no not one. And liberals are double-plus ungood. It's okay to say it.

It's like that "why do bad things happen to good people?" question. The answer is... EVERYONE IS BAD!

But it's okay. I forgive you!

Anonymous Incurvatus February 28, 2013 7:24 AM  

What makes Confessional Lutheran services unique among other Christian whoopie worship is that we thoroughly seek God's forgiveness and He delivers it during the service.
We confess our sins, & the pastor uses the Keys of Ministry (as given by Christ to His Church, to bind and loose sin) to proclaim forgiveness.
We sing hymns reminding us of God's mighty wrath and His mercy.
A baby is Baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection with mere sprinklings of water accompanied by the Word, delivering new life to the baby (or Muslim convert the other week).
We hear readings from the Old and New Testaments, and we stand for the reading for Jesus' Words. (Outside of Lent,) we sing 'Alleluias' to Christ's Words.
The pastor preaches both on God's Law —which drives the sinner to repentance in hopeless despair in realizing the Law can never be fulfilled by the sinner — and the Gospel —which proclaims that Jesus has atoned for the sins and that we are justified by faith. (Faith being a gift of God, and not something synthesized in the sinful heart of man.)
We respond again to hearing of our forgiveness with songs of thanksgiving (again, proclaiming to our neighbor the Gospel.)
The culmination of the service is that we partake the sweetest fare at the Lord's Supper, because on the night He was betrayed, He promised forgiveness is delivered to those who 'do this in remembrance of me.'

These are the Means of Grace; these are the physical ways in this world in which God delivers His forgiveness: through Water and Word of baptism; through Confession and Absolution; through hearing the Law & the Gospel; through the very body and blood of Jesus at the Lord's Supper.

Anonymous VD February 28, 2013 7:29 AM  

Even if it doesn't technically fit the definition of 'forgiveness', I feel that it is in one's best interest to compartmentalize anger/disappointment/ at being wronged (intentionally or untententional) and it's best to just 'let it go and let God' take care of it.

Forgiveness is more than simply not wallowing in having been wronged. You can simply write the person off and move on with your life without either forgiving them or wallowing in past events. That is the most useful way to deal with the unrepentant. Why would you want to deal with unrepentant evildoers in the future anyhow?

Churchianity's cheap grace approach is tantamount to asking for more trouble in the future.

Anonymous DT February 28, 2013 7:38 AM  

Re: the spare room tenant example

Read Matthew 22:36-40, then consider how this could solve the problem: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' So, what would I do to me in that situation? How would I want to be treated as the tenant?

* For a one off late payment due to a mistake on my part or circumstances beyond my control, I would want to be forgiven the fine.

* If forgiving the fine influenced me to be careless and late repeatedly, thereby hurting and sinning against my landlord, I would want to be made to pay the new fines and learn my lesson. It would hurt at first, but be better in the long run and prevent me from sinning against my landlord.

In this case I would probably do this to someone I loved as myself: assess the fine(s), hold onto the money, and return it after a year of no late payments, i.e. proof that the lesson had been learned. I would not reveal this until the money was returned, however.

* It gets tricky if I was repeatedly late due to circumstances beyond my control. Truth is I wouldn't want to be kicked while I was down. I also wouldn't want to steal from my landlord by staying in a place I couldn't afford, but it can take time to find something more affordable and/or improve one's income. If I was a landlord dealing with someone I loved as myself, I would probably be pretty lenient here. If I was wealthy enough, maybe even lenient to the point of forgiving entire months of rent to help said person get on their feet or get in a different place.

This, btw, is why family, friends, and real churches are superior in every way to government welfare. They have the intimate knowledge necessary to decide between "this person really needs help otherwise they wouldn't have let this happen" and "this person is taking advantage and screwing us."

Unfortunately I don't think I've answered the broader question of whether there can or should be forgiveness without repentance. But I find scenarios like the tenant example are often easy to resolve when you ask "How would I want to be treated?"

Blogger Hamilton February 28, 2013 8:00 AM  

Modern psychology holds to the idea that forgiving someone, even the unrepentant, is good for your health. So the argument is to forgive people for your own good regardless of what they have done to you.

When you reconcile the command for qualified forgiveness in the Bible with the scientific studies that show forgiveness can actually produce positive physiological results it makes sense. Perhaps that is part of God’s design for the human body.

However, it’s been my experience that you don’t need to necessarily forgive someone to experience those same physiological results that come with forgiveness. I’ve been severely wronged in the past and the perps have never asked for forgiveness so none has been given. Yet, I’ve experience the same positive physiological results as if I’ve forgiven them when I realize that I am just as sinful as they are and even capable of doing just as much harm if my circumstances were a little (sometimes a lot) different.

Anonymous MadPiper February 28, 2013 8:02 AM  

"In other words, letting your child eat chocolate cake for breakfast is not love."

It is if it's home-made.

Blogger James Higham February 28, 2013 8:03 AM  

God doesn't forgive the unrepentant and therefore neither should the Christian.

Got it in one.

Blogger tz February 28, 2013 8:04 AM  

One point is we are COMMANDED to forgive, as the Lord's prayer, or the parable of the servant who owed 300 talents vs 100 denari or many other examples.

But only if the other truly repents. It is easier here being Catholic since the guides for the Sacrament of RECONCILIATION (aka confession) points out what is minimal and what is full, perfect contrition. 'Sorry I got caught' isn't repentance. Being afraid of hell is, but minimal. Nor does it limit or change justice (Pope JP2 forgave his assassin, but had words tonthis effect). Nor does it require you to trust or be friends with whom you have forgiven (given the fall it is unwise on both counts).

Also, it is true that only God can forgive sin, hence the scandal when Jesus said someone's sins were forgiven. The price of the remission of Sin was the passion - Gethsemane, mocking, beating, scourging, thorns, crucifixion. When you ask God to forgive, remember what it cost him to pay the price.

One final Catholic note. Justice requires paying the penalty, so the difference between what remains of the fall and unredressed sin at death and what it takes to get into heaven is termed purgatory. I see it as when we are judged and see the remainder we owe, are we going to ask Jesus to rip up time and suffer more - another lash, more thorns? Or are we going to allow ourselves to suffer for a time before eternity.

Nowhere can you find that a sin (after baptism) will not cost you anything.

That is why grace is not cheap and the smallest sin weakens the body of christ, but it is also why righteous acts like almsgiving - when not done for show - heals things. Blessed are the merciful for they will obtain mercy. Forgiveness is by nature reactive, but mercy proactive. And for this time, Divine Mercy is a great gift - there are devotions, but also Divine Mercy Sunday - one week after Easter where grace superabounds for sinners.

Anonymous E. PERLINE February 28, 2013 8:07 AM  

As an atheist, I failt to see where religion and reason go together. But that's not the point of the moment.

I think we should forgive someone for belittling us because it's only verbal.
We should not be bothered by put downs because it's for our own sake. We have become impenatrable to insults and that's a good thing.

We should also not dwell on being materially harmed. Why should we give someone years of power because they spoiled our day? But while we aren't emotionally impacted, we should be aware those people are unreliable.

Blogger tz February 28, 2013 8:09 AM  

In other words, letting your child eat chocolate cake for breakfast is not love.

It might be better to allow that than the sugary cereals, or pancakes drenched in maple syrup, and the juices with more sugar than soda pop.

Anonymous JartStar February 28, 2013 8:09 AM  

When their actions cause harm to another person, they simply say "I'm sorry", and expect that to somehow be enough.

This right here more than any other thing is how the Boomers wrecked their children. It made Christianity simply therapeutic and it made Gen-Y not take responsibility for their actions

OpenID meistergedanken February 28, 2013 8:11 AM  

"the Christian can forgive, without repentance, those who do their harm in ignorance, but not those who willfully intend a harmful course of action."

- Like the homos, for example. And then they go on to not only revel in their own iniquity, but lead others astray by perverting the church itself. My college ex-girlfriend who drank the progressive koolaid is now a Lutheran minister who is agitating for gay marriage.

Anonymous DT February 28, 2013 8:23 AM  

God doesn't forgive the unrepentant and therefore neither should the Christian.

Except that I'm not God. And Christ, who is God, asked the Father to forgive men guilty of a horrendous crime because they didn't know what they were doing. I don't necessarily believe those men will be in heaven, but I highly doubt the Father will refuse the Son's request on the day of judgement. It's likely that those men are not going to be punished for that particular transgression.

I'm not saying this solves the question, but neither did your one line answer.

Blogger James Jones February 28, 2013 8:23 AM  

Love your enemies?

Blogger Doom February 28, 2013 8:37 AM  

Good question and answer.

I would, of course, be remiss if I did not point out that BR is making the same mistake I once made, which is to judge the -ism by the -ist.

This will be a problem until I die. Emotions can, at times, interfere with reason. If you are pure of this you are a better man than I. But make no mistake, I take great pains to... figure that out. It is easy to hate the sheep that allows the wolf to feed on it, especially as a sheep dog... But telling the wolf in sheep's clothing from the wolf gets old, too. How much of it is a dog and pony show. Gah!

Anonymous VD February 28, 2013 8:42 AM  

Love your enemies?

I don't know if you could produce a more Churchian response. But forgiveness is not love. Love is not forgiveness. God is love, and yet He does not forgive the unrepentant.

Anonymous Rushmore February 28, 2013 8:45 AM  

I see the rationale in claiming that forgiveness cannot be offered without the offender repenting. And I see flaws in offering carte blanche forgiveness absent repentance.

However:

1. This cycle of repentance and forgiveness is not solely the way God forgives us. Rest assured that I have been more sinful than I know and that growing in Christ is an ongoing daily revelation of how selfish I am. There are sins I've committed (and David talks about them in the Psalms) that are "hidden" faults. I take it as a given that I will go to my grave having sinned that day in a way in which I did not fully know I'd done so. If God does not forgive me for the offenses of which I am unaware, I cannot be completely forgiven. If we then are to forgive in the same manner in which we have been forgiven (and we are), is that not a call to be gracious to people who are too thick (at least to this date) to understand that they have wronged us?

2. The OP comes across as a bit too paternal in his examples. Landlord / Tenant is not a good spiritual picture of the relationship we actually have with our fellow men. I am nobody's spiritual landlord. The OP is concerned with what lessons he is teaching or what conduct he's encouraging when he forgives easily - but teaching others isn't primarily our relationship to them. There's a fair bit of hubris involved in assuming I know what God wants to produce in a fellow sinner's life. And it's pretty clearly a Christian tenet that all sin is ultimately sin against God and as such, we can entrust ultimate retribution to Him rather than seek it for ourselves by withholding forgiveness unnecessarily.

I wrestle with this stuff and see problems with fully embracing either extreme.

Blogger Chad Gibbons February 28, 2013 8:52 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Chad Gibbons February 28, 2013 8:53 AM  

I feel like you're conflating definitions here. Forgiveness != Reconciliation.

Reconciliation requires two things: 1) Forgiveness on the part of the party which is wronged, and 2) Repentance on the part of the party that did the wrong.

The act of forgiveness on God's part was made at the cross. He did that while we were yet sinners. In other words, God was forgiving us when we weren't even sorry for what we did. But whether or not we are RECONCILED is a different question. This requires not only forgiveness on God's part (which He already took care of), but repentance on our part (which is what He calls us to).

With the proper categories in place, it seems clear that forgiveness is clearly given by God to people who aren't yet sorry.

Anonymous The Great Martini February 28, 2013 8:56 AM  


So yes, I believe the teaching of
"forgive regardless" is feminist influenced churchianity.


I suspect you haven't met many feminists. They are usually very much of the forgive only the repentant persuasion. Let just see how many feminists forgive Seth Macfarlane for "We've seen your boobs" when he doesn't repent.

Blogger IM2L844 February 28, 2013 8:59 AM  

Forgiveness is a transaction. One party being primed, ready and willing to forgive ("letting go") cannot complete the transaction. It cannot be unconditionally given to someone who refuses to take ownership of it.

Anonymous clk February 28, 2013 9:04 AM  

This line of thought is fully discussed in Catholic teachings and thus I would recommend seeking guidance in those teachings starting with the CCC ...

This "churchian" issue is a result of Protestantism and a belief that one can read and interpret the bible alone (Sola scriptura). You get a bunch of people making their own rules... good honest people maybe but not having the direct grace of god as given to his Church (the CC) to direct their interpretations nor the benefit of divine tradition and the 2000 years of extensive study.

Anonymous Salt February 28, 2013 9:05 AM  

I'm wondering just whom one could forgive when the letter informing one of being the subject of the theft is signed "Revenue Agent"?

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:10 AM  

Cheap and easy grace, as well as ready forgiveness for sins not repented, is the hallmark of modern Churchianity. It is also indicative of a false and overtly anti-Christian religion that cloaks itself in Christian language. The parents who make a showy scene of publicly providing unrequested forgiveness to the murderer of their only daughter when the man responsible refuses to even admit the crime aren't demonstrating their Christianity, they are simply posturing emotionally, because repentance is required as a part of the process of forgiveness.

I don't disagree with the critique of Churchianity, nor with that of public emotional posturing. And I agree with your larger critique of the pussification of the western churches.

However the assertion that repentance is a prerequisite for Christians to properly forgive needs some citations from the New Testament. Christians are commanded to do some specific things & possess a specific disposition w.r.t. those who injure them -- largely in response to and a witness of the forgiveness & blessings they themselves have already received from God.

God doesn't forgive the unrepentant and therefore neither should the Christian.

Please show your work to justify elevating the freedoms and juridical Christians from the level of bond-slaves to the level of God. God, being Creator & Supreme Judge of Everything, has prerogatives vis-a-vis His creations that His creations do not have with each other -- however disparate the final fate of those individual creations.

Anonymous The One February 28, 2013 9:13 AM  

As DT pointed out, there seems to be a difference between those who know what they are doing, murderers on the cross with Jesus (Jesus says one is in heaven, other one ?), and those who don't know what they are doing, Romans crucifying HIM (Jesus asks the Father to forgive them).

Luke 12:47-48 says "And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few..."

1 Cor 5: 11-13 says "But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without ? Do not you judge them that are within ? them that are without, God will judge. Put away the evil one from among yourselves."

It seems to me that for those within the Church there must be true repentance (i.e stop doing the sin) in order for their to be forgiveness. For those outside the Church, we forgive them because G-d will deal with them i.e a homo will get an STD, etc, etc

Anonymous Gitche Manitou February 28, 2013 9:15 AM  

"God is love, and yet He does not forgive the unrepentant."

But I never stop loving the unrepentant and is always ready to forgive if asked.

The act of forgiveness is mainly for you .. forgive freely... but be wary and learn so you are not like sheep.

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:21 AM  

Forgiveness is a transaction. One party being primed, ready and willing to forgive ("letting go") cannot complete the transaction. It cannot be unconditionally given to someone who refuses to take ownership of it.

Nonsense. Forgiveness is an unilateral act within the mind of the injured party. The repentance of the offender holds no obligation over the potential issuer of forgiveness -- except in the case of God, who has imposed that obligation on Himself out of His Grace.

Please show in the Scriptures where we Christians are obligated to forgive by the repentance of one who trespasses against us.

Your comments about "taking ownership" of forgiveness suggest that you are mixing up forgiveness between humans and forgiveness between a human and God; the latter form of forgiveness is ontologically different that the former. God != humans. Different rules apply.

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:24 AM  

Correction:

...ontologically different from that of the former...

Typing too fast; no edit function.

Anonymous The One February 28, 2013 9:28 AM  

@Raven

A similar obligation that the Lord imposed on Himself he imposed on us. Right out of Christ's mouth, The Lord's Prayer/Our Father

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:30 AM  

Please show your work to justify elevating the freedoms and juridical authority of Christians from the level of bond-slaves to the level of God.

Oy. Blogspot needs an edit function.

Blogger JaimeInTexas February 28, 2013 9:32 AM  

As pointed out already, the type of forgiving depends on kind of transgression. Also, I can only forgive a transgression against me. Only God can judge the heart and since all transgressions, ultimately, are against God, God is the one to give final disposition of the case. Preaching the gospel of Jesus' atonement for the forgiveness of sin, to salvation, is not me forgiving transgressions against others but God reconciling to Himself.

Vox, just because "churchianity" does something it does not mean it wrong. Highly suspect, pending further review? sure.


Anonymous DrTorch February 28, 2013 9:33 AM  

RavenKing- Easy: Matt 18:15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

What is nonsense is all this bit about humans acting differently than God. God commands us to be like Him, yet suddenly you insist that we act differently. He commands us to forgive just as He forgives which we no is a conditional action (note the IF statement in 1 John).

Now, there is room to forgive those who are unrepentant, usually for small matters

Prov 19:11. A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

And it is to our glory. But overlooking serious offenses is NOT being loving. Nor is it gracious, as you aren't correcting your brother as commanded in Gal.

Anonymous Anonymous February 28, 2013 9:34 AM  

Luke 17:3 "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and IF HE REPENTS, forgive him."

Anonymous John Regan February 28, 2013 9:36 AM  

BR makes a really good point: the conflict between mercy and justice. You can't have the one without shortchanging the other. Indeed this is pretty close to the core of Christianity. In justice sin had to be paid for, and man was unable to pay the bill. How then could God extend him mercy and remain perfectly just as God is supposed to be?

If it was an easy thing to do, it wouldn't have entailed a 33 year old man being tortured to death.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 February 28, 2013 9:37 AM  

Forgiveness is a responsive action to those who are repentant. It is not a feeling as so many in the modern Church have been led to believe. I get sick of the whole line about how we must forgive others in our hearts when there are truly wicked people out there who simply do not apologize for their wicked deeds.

If God hasn't forgiven them and they are not sorry for the harm they caused, then there is no reason for anyone, Christian or otherwise, to forgive them.

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:39 AM  

@The One

That prayer is a request to God to treat us the same way we treat others. It does not authorize us to operate the same way God does, particularly against Christ's commands to His followers in the Sermon on the Mount. I think you may have a misunderstanding of what the Lord's Prayer is and who it's for.

Also, "trespass" is not the same thing as "sin". Thus, God's forgiveness of our sin through Christ's atoning sacrifice is not the same thing as God's forgiveness of our trespasses. Christians (true children of God) have been already forgiven of their sin, however we will regularly trespass against God and require His forgiveness for that. See 1 John 1:9, etc.

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:41 AM  

4BR makes a really good point: the conflict between mercy and justice. You can't have the one without shortchanging the other.

Yes.

I suspect much of the problem here (and in much of Churchianity) derives from misunderstandings due to a lack of precision in our language.

Blogger IM2L844 February 28, 2013 9:42 AM  

Please show in the Scriptures where we Christians are obligated to forgive by the repentance of one who trespasses against us.

Why should I? Regardless of whether I believe it is or it isn't, I never insinuated that offering forgiveness was obligatory.

When you're standing there before the judgment seat try saying:
"Lord, Lord, did I not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" (the old I don't think I've done anything wrong defense) and let me know how that works out for ya.

OpenID herenvardo February 28, 2013 9:53 AM  

What tz said. We will only be forgiven as much as we have forgiven. From personal experience, refusing to forgive the unrepentant acts as a cancer on the mind. At the risk of devolving to Godwin's Law, the survivors of the Nazis had a much better quality of life after the war if they were able to forgive. If you can forgive like Jesus forgave His executioners, you leave them free to face the justice and mercy of God, without sticking your own oar in.

Don't let anyone face Hell on your account. Hell is that bad, no-one, not even Genghis Khan, deserves that.

Anonymous The One February 28, 2013 9:54 AM  

@Raven

Can you explain the difference between trespass and sin because my understanding is that for the last 2000 yrs they were considered equivalent by all theologians. I think what you are trying to say is what Chad said above

"I feel like you're conflating definitions here. Forgiveness != Reconciliation.

Reconciliation requires two things: 1) Forgiveness on the part of the party which is wronged, and 2) Repentance on the part of the party that did the wrong.

The act of forgiveness on God's part was made at the cross. He did that while we were yet sinners. In other words, God was forgiving us when we weren't even sorry for what we did. But whether or not we are RECONCILED is a different question. This requires not only forgiveness on God's part (which He already took care of), but repentance on our part (which is what He calls us to).

With the proper categories in place, it seems clear that forgiveness is clearly given by God to people who aren't yet sorry."

~Chad


Paraphrase

All mankind have already been forgiven of their sin, however we will regularly trespass=sin against G-d and require repentance to be reconciled to Him.

Anonymous Mudz February 28, 2013 9:55 AM  

You know, it probably isn't a good idea trying to pre-judge for Jesus.

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 9:59 AM  

@DrTorch

Forgiveness does not mean "overlooking offenses". By definition it requires that an offense be recognized as such. Forgiveness means "choosing not to punish an offense".

Your quote from Matt 18 addresses an unrepentant member of the believing community, who refuses to receive correction for wrong behavior. The issue at hand is not the forgiveness of a personal trespass but rather expulsion for the refusal to conform to the standards of that community. Interpersonal forgiveness is not the issue.

In Eph 4:32, the emphasis is the compassion and kindness that we are supposed to manifest to each other, and Paul holds up the extreme example of that compassion and kindness: God's gracious forgiveness of us in spite of our unworthiness for that forgiveness. Paul's making essentially the opposite point you are.

1 John 1:9 is again a case between humans and God and is irrelevant to interactions between humans. Furthermore, the focus is on God training His children in proper behavior as His children.

Look, I get that you don't like it, but the fact is that God has prerogatives over us that you and I, both as His creations and His slaves, do not have with each other. God is not human and we humans aren't God (with one unique exception that proves the rule).

I get it: it would be WAY easier if we only had to forgive the actions of those who repented of them. I wish that was the case. But my wishes are irrelevant to what the Bible says.

Anonymous Athor Pel February 28, 2013 10:12 AM  

Here's the way I look at it. In time I can provide the verses I am basing it on.

Just as the salvation offered by Jesus is a gift so is forgiveness, whether that forgiveness is provided by you or Jesus or God the Father.

You can offer a gift all day but if it is not accepted then it does not get given. Repentance is the accepting of the gift.

Forgiving your enemies in effect places the gift of forgiveness outside their door. Once they repent they will be opening the door and accepting the gift.

There does need to be a distinction between sins committed against us and sins committed against God. The forgiveness we provide saves someone from God's judgement and but that is for sins against us, not sins against God. We cannot forgive sins against God, that is God's responsibility. We can intercede for that person out of love but we cannot provide the forgiveness.


Nobody said anything about treating a person as forgiven if they did not repent. I don't think we should be giving people a free pass so to speak. Do not allow them to wrong you again if you are sure that is their intention. Any earthly act has earthly consequences.

Anonymous Viking February 28, 2013 10:12 AM  

My closest friend is now going through a divorce. His wife is cheating on him and its not her first time. He asked me if it was unchristian of him to not forgive her. I asked him if she has asked for forgiveness and stopped cheating. She of course wont even admit to it even though her own children are aware and he has overwhelming evidence. He has tried for years to make things work and overlook evidence.

I told him that he should forgive her, the moment she repents and asks to be forgiven. But that it is ok to wait until she chooses to move. Just like God does for him when he turns back to Him.

Anonymous robwbright February 28, 2013 10:15 AM  

"When he does ask his Father to forgive the unrepentant, he does so because "they know not what they do"."

Which, if I understand it correctly, refers to the fact that they did not understand that they were killing the son of God - i.e. they know not what they DO (right now).

He doesn't appear to be saying that they were forgiven for all of their sins - He was asking God not to hold them accountable for that one.

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 10:17 AM  

@The One

I didn't see Chad's comments above, but yes, I'm getting at the same idea.

Trespasses (or, as the Lord's Prayer, debts) are specific offenses against either a law or a person, intentional or unintentional. Every Christian, being still imperfect, commits these against God and each other. Thus, the instructions found in 1 John 1:9, Eph 4:32, Matt 18, etc., on how to deal with them when (not if) they occur.

Sin is the general state of human rebellion against God's righteousness; it is this innate quality of human nature from which we have been freed and given the ability to resist. Christ paid our penalty for this once and for all on the Cross.

There are different rules in operation for God's forgiveness of sin and for the forgiveness of insults/debts/offenses incurred btwn people (ex., Christ's work on the Cross does not absolve you of having to repent to your spouse for being a jerk).

Anonymous RavenKing February 28, 2013 10:32 AM  

@Athor Pel

Just as the salvation offered by Jesus is a gift so is forgiveness, whether that forgiveness is provided by you or Jesus or God the Father.

You can offer a gift all day but if it is not accepted then it does not get given. Repentance is the accepting of the gift.

Forgiving your enemies in effect places the gift of forgiveness outside their door. Once they repent they will be opening the door and accepting the gift.


I think you're putting the cart before the horse here, and also conflating human/God & human/human interactions. Repentance precedes forgiveness between God and men, and frankly between men and men in typical human interaction. However the Christian is obligated by Christ & God to forgive irrespective of repentance.

Nobody said anything about treating a person as forgiven if they did not repent.

Nor do I. How Christians should treat a person is irrelevant to their repentance as they are commanded by their Master -- Christ -- to proactively act lovingly toward others, esp. the bastards.

However Vox is saying the inverse of this: Until the person repents, we are justified in not forgiving them. And thus, I assume, not treating them with love until they do so (if Vox is saying that we should not forgive the unrepentant but still go on loving them, I'm not sure what the difference is).

I don't think we should be giving people a free pass so to speak. Do not allow them to wrong you again if you are sure that is their intention. Any earthly act has earthly consequences.

Well sure. Just because you forgive someone doesn't mean you have to be an idiot about it. Innocent as lambs but wise as serpents, etc. We are not God, therefore we have no obligation to forget another's offenses to us -- only to not punish them for them.

But we're afield from Vox's original post, in which he illustrated his point by talking about a Christian's response to a non-Christian's offense. The Christian procedure for dealing with unbelievers who injure them is found in the Sermon on the Mount. The Christian procedure for dealing with other Christians is detailed in Mat. 18, Eph. 4, and elsewhere.

Mixing up these distinctions, or being sloppy with them, is what gets us in trouble.

Anonymous John Regan February 28, 2013 10:33 AM  

@ Athor:

All sins are sins against God.

Anonymous Josh February 28, 2013 10:35 AM  

I err on the side of forgiving someone because I don't want to cultivate bitterness.

Anonymous Edjamacator February 28, 2013 10:40 AM  

Whenever this comes up the first thing that pops into my mind is "which side appeals to human nature and which doesn't?" Obviously, the entire "you don't have to forgive everyone" appeals to our base nature. The "forgive everyone" does not.

One of the things that makes Christianity unique is that there are many aspects to it that do NOT appeal to human nature, whereas every other religion I've looked at does. Satan/man designed a whole lot of other beliefs, but in order to get followers to those beliefs which are false, there has to be a hook, or it has to appeal to our sin nature. Otherwise, people would reject it. Christianity is the only religion that I know of that still has many adherents to it despite not appealing to human nature.

I would love to not have to forgive certain types of people. I really would. However, I don't think I can hold on to hatred and not forgive.

I'd have to study this some more, but just from the Scripture being thrown around, it seems to me that 1) God's forgiveness towards us can/may be different from what we have to offer each other. We are not perfect, divine beings, so from God's perspective one of us screwing over another can't be anything like one of us spitting in His face. We may have to let things go, at least with non-believers who are in darkness, because none of us are on God's level. We're all unrighteous.

2) Only forgiving a brother if they repent may be simply because it IS to his benefit if he learns why what he did was wrong and it helps him spiritually to repent first. With unbelievers (unless they will be saved later), it won't do any good anyway, so letting that hatred and/or anger seethe in you will only harm you, not them. They will end up being tossed into hell anyway, so not forgiving them/forgiving them is only impacting you.

3) When we are saved, we are not looking for God. When He draws us, He is drawing someone unrepentant in the first place. We only repent when we are made aware of what we are. He knows we will repent, but we don't know if someone we forgive will end up repenting after seeing how we treat them. How do you know that your action of forgiveness won't be what spurs them into seeing that God is true and not just religion?

Believe me, like I said, I would much rather VD be totally correct on this point. It's easier, it appeals to me, and I don't have to worry about the whole "standard that I use being used against me" aspect. But I'll keep reading the different views here and do some more studying on my own (to the aghast disappointment of Catholics who think we should be spoon-fed, of course).

Anonymous Joshua Herring February 28, 2013 10:41 AM  

"I would, of course, be remiss if I did not point out that BR is making the same mistake I once made, which is to judge the -ism by the -ist."

You continue to make this mistake wrt to Atheists.

Anonymous Jayuf February 28, 2013 10:45 AM  

Describing grace as "cheap and easy" is a misnomer. It's like saying a gift is hard-earned.

OpenID rufusdog February 28, 2013 10:46 AM  

Mathew 18 21-35, Story of the Unforgiving Debtor seems relevant.
33 “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you”?
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart.”
The “in your heart” bit being the most relevant, you can forgive someone and still hold them accountable for what they did. Example of a teenager wrecking a car by being careless, the father can forgive the child for wrecking the car and still hold the child to account for getting it fixed.
Isn’t that clearly Biblical? God forgives us, but we are still held to account for what we did or did not do in this life.
2 Corinthians 5 10 “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good and evil we have done in our bodies.”

Anonymous Paul S February 28, 2013 10:46 AM  

A lesson in forgiveness from GOM:
Forgiveness

21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

Anonymous Aeoli Pera February 28, 2013 10:49 AM  

BR,

You deserve kudos for an impeccably posed question. If I were to write a book on the art of asking questions, yours would be the first example.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera February 28, 2013 10:53 AM  

You continue to make this mistake wrt to Atheists.

No, we judge atheism by its philosophical merits. Atheism's most fundamental claim is silly on its face. You can't "know" God doesn't exist. And the existence of "something" is easily proved in the most general sense, and has not been a matter of serious inquiry since Aristotle at least.

We also judge atheists because they are stupid pricks. But NAAALT, of course.

Anonymous ThirdMonkey February 28, 2013 10:58 AM  

DrTorch
One more comment about grace- it's by definition free. Therefore it's cheap.

Grace is freely given, but it is not cheap, as the cost of Christ's suffering at the cross has an infinite price tag. We only cheapen it by continuing in unrepentant behavior.

Churchianity has taught us the virtues of forgiveness, but neglected the necessity to confront sinful behavior and to exercise church discipline when there is a lack of repentance. Churchians don't have the balls to confront sinful behavior, because it's not "nice." Forgiveness and tolerance are not one and the same.
Forgive and confront. IF they repent, eagerly reconcile. If they don't, put them out, have nothing to do with them, wipe the dust off your feet, leave them to their sin and assholery. They're not worth the trouble. They'll either come around, or they won't. They've sinned against God, so it's between them anyway. I'm not going to let some unrepentant douche ruin my day, but at the same time, I'm not going tolerate his crap, either. Today and my sin have enough troubles of it's own to be butthurt about a wrong that's been committed to me. Kinda pales in comparison to what my sin did to the Son of God on a Friday afternoon in 1st Century Jerusalem.

OpenID rufusdog February 28, 2013 10:59 AM  

Jayuf,
Cheap Grace isn’t Grace. “Faith without works is dead”.
If you really believe in Christ and God the Father, works will flow from such a Faith, maybe not perfect works or consistent works, but works will result. They are the evidence of true Faith.
If one truly believes there is a God who will either punish or reward this short life, for eternity, obedience to the word and works will result.
Cheap Grace is “saved by Faith” with “Faith” being lip service and nothing more. If you want to know the heart of a man pay attention to what they do, not what they say, talk is cheap (as is the Grace that results from talk alone).

Anonymous Mr. Pea February 28, 2013 11:06 AM  

If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

Also...

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

The fact is, there are people who are far from redemption and forgiveness. There are people who have given themselves over to sin and revel in it. They have made a conscience decision, after hearing the word of God, to reject Him.

There is a big difference from those of us who love Christ (brothers and sisters) and muddle on through life as best as we can in all of our faults, from those who reject Christ and charge through life reveling in their sin and teaching others to do so.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.


We are not all brothers and sisters.

Anonymous Jayuf February 28, 2013 11:15 AM  

Rufus, Eph. 2:8, Romans 4:5, John 6:29 are just a few verses that contradict your dogma.

Dictionaries contradict your definition of grace.

Anonymous VD February 28, 2013 11:16 AM  

You continue to make this mistake wrt to Atheists.

In what way? How does my rejection of atheism depend upon any atheists?

Anonymous DonReynolds February 28, 2013 11:23 AM  

Forgiveness is for the benefit of your immortal soul and does not absolve anyone of their debt to society for crimes. Yes, we can forgive the murderer and the terrorist, but they will still suffer the penalty nonetheless. Christian foregiveness is not a get out of jail free card.

Anonymous Holla February 28, 2013 11:33 AM  

The question is whether the action of Divine Mercy is constant or in flux.

Just as an example - is a woman who is kidnapped and repeatedly raped by a sex cartel, and then put to work as a prostitute, truly culpable for her actions? Even if at a certain point (stockholm syndrome as a factor, perhaps) she operates not out of fear of punishment, but of her "own" will?

This is not an attempt to make all sin a function of psychology or pathology, however -

The world we are in now is not the same as the world of turn-of-the-universe Christ - we are challenged (particularly through the omnipresent onslaught of Freudian-designed PR, advertising, and propaganda) constantly to sin. The ancients weren't surrounded by Stoli Vodka bimbos, 24/7 tribalized music, and instant access to any sort of perversion imaginable.

Does grace "extend" to cover the expansion of a sinful world? Is the culpability of a teenager exposed to porn the same as, say, an Oscar Wilde?

OpenID rufusdog February 28, 2013 11:38 AM  

Jayuf,
Easy there killer, it’s certainly ok to disagree with me. Keep in mind I referred to "works" as evidence of Faith, so no, the verses you quote do not contradict my "dogma". We are saved by Faith, not works, salvation is a free gift.
Curious, do you think a Faithful Christian life can be lived without works? There would be some tangible results from Faith in Jesus…would there not?
I thought above you were searching for what folks mean by "Cheap Grace" and I think I gave you a solid answer.

Anonymous DrTorch February 28, 2013 11:41 AM  

RavenKing wrote
" The issue at hand is not the forgiveness of a personal trespass but rather expulsion for the refusal to conform to the standards of that community. Interpersonal forgiveness is not the issue."

The Scriptures don't say that. Whatever your contived "conform to standards of community" means (which can easily lead to its own problems) this passage does NOT exclude interpersonal forgiveness. Ergo you are trying to twist scripture.

In Eph 4:32, the emphasis is the compassion and kindness that we are supposed to manifest to each other, and Paul holds up the extreme example of that compassion and kindness: God's gracious forgiveness of us in spite of our unworthiness for that forgiveness. Paul's making essentially the opposite point you are.

No, I'm identifying Paul's point. You're twisting the scripture again. Twisting it to the 20th C understanding, one that doesn't hold up to simple scrutiny. That's why your comments are absurd, or worse:

1 John 1:9 is again a case between humans and God and is irrelevant to interactions between humans.

Irrelevant? Why? Because you say so? We're told to behave like God, so we observe His behavior, and you say it's "irrelevant". That's absurd.

Look, I get that you don't like it, but the fact is that God has prerogatives over us that you and I, both as His creations and His slaves, do not have with each other.

I don't like it b/c you contradict the teaching of Scripture. And as usual, when people do this, they cause problems. You are following incorrect teaching. Worse, you're propagating it, promoting it. Teaching people not to follow God's examples is tantamount to heresey.

Anonymous DrTorch February 28, 2013 11:44 AM  


One more comment about grace- it's by definition free. Therefore it's cheap.
Grace is freely given, but it is not cheap, as the cost of Christ's suffering at the cross has an infinite price tag. We only cheapen it by continuing in unrepentant behavior.


I agree w/ you ThirdMonkey. I think the distinction gets blurred at times.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 12:05 PM  

A lesson in forgiveness from GOM:
Forgiveness

21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.


Good lesson indeed, considering that his example of failing to live by this principle said this:

And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 12:25 PM  

There are a few things that need to be cleared up...

First, we should define some terms. What do we mean by "forgiveness"? Apparently, it's not just "loving", since Vox admits that we should love our enemies. So, how do we tangibly act differently towards someone whom we love but don't forgive? What's the difference?

Second, how do we know when someone "doesn't know what they're doing"? Are you saying that the Jews and Romans didn't know they were killing Jesus? Obviously they did. Now, they didn't know the FULLNESS of their actions. Their actions were violent and hateful, but they didn't realize who they were being violent and hateful against. But how do we know when someone fully realizes what they're doing to us? How do we determine if we should forgive them anyway since they "don't know what they're doing"? Isn't one of the central tenants of Christianity that men are fallen and deceived by the god of this world?

Third, can we assume that just because God did something one way, we have to do it that same way? Isn't the question really, "What does the Bible say He expects of us?" and not, "Well, if God did it this way, that must be how we should do it."? Because, let's face it, there are a whole lot of things in the Bible that God did which we aren't allowed to do. Requiring a blood-sacrifice for forgiveness is one of those things.

Forth (to address the email), can't we forgive AND hold people accountable? Can't you forgive someone for killing someone and still expect them to go to jail for it? Btw, the argument made in the email is based on human metrics (lowering your standard of living, economic effects, etc). There's no reason to believe that God cares about those things more than he cares about our spiritual state.

I'd probably lean towards Edjumacator's view on this one... "not forgiving unless someone repents" seems to appeal to our fallen human nature. Being able to hold something against someone unless they make a sufficient show of penance is precisely something that we feel tempted to do when we are sinned against. This doesn't quite jibe with the completely counter-intuitive ideas of turning your other cheek to the one who just struck you or going a second mile with someone who requires you to go one, or the idea that, while we were still unrepentant sinners, God sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself.

WATYF

Blogger James Dixon February 28, 2013 12:32 PM  

> What makes Confessional Lutheran services unique among other Christian whoopie worship is that we thoroughly seek God's forgiveness and He delivers it during the service.

What do you think the Anglican General Confession and Prayer of Humble Access are there for?

OpenID ZT February 28, 2013 12:36 PM  

Sin always has a cost. The question is who is paying for it?

You can forgive a person that sins against you while still giving them consequences. Like wise you can forgive and take on the consequence yourself. The issue of you taking on the consequence yourself is an matter of judgement. When my 9 yearold breaks something on purpose she is forgiven before she even talks to me. However there is still the consequence. She may blame someone else or come up with any number of excuses and in some cases I may know the truth or not. Either way she is still forgiven and I will pay for the item.

On the other hand the rent example is a good one with the caveat that you the owner can decide to withhold the exercise of the fine. Your renter may be incensed by your kindness and repay you with meals of service that you never asked for. Or you can charge them the fine. You are not morally wrong in either case.

I think the issue with churchianity today is not so much that they have something wrong with "forgiviness" but they do not seem to understand there is need for discipline as well. There are some situations that the mercy will gain you more in the long run than the rod but that doesn't mean the rod should just be ignored.

I think there also needs to be a distinction between "forgiveness of sins" and "salvation".

Salvation is essentially an adoption. My children have a relationship with me that no other person has. When it comes to discipline there is no one else who has the authority to do anything to them unless I give that authority.

Like wise the I cannot do the same thing to the neighborhood kids unless their parents give me that authority. I can spank my kids, put them in time out and such, but the extent I can do with anything with the neighborhood kids is to tell their parents or call the cops. In short I can use the rod on my own kids but not the neighborhood kids.

Regardless of what my kids to they will be my kids. They cannot change the fact that I consider them my children and will always work to their betterment even if they don't work towards their own betterment.

Because of this relationship they are essentially always forgiven, but they are not always immune from discipline.

However neighborhood children are immune from my discipline but they also do not get my blessing. I'm more likely to take on the debt of my own kid where as the neighborhood kid may not be so lucky.

Anonymous DT February 28, 2013 12:40 PM  

Because, let's face it, there are a whole lot of things in the Bible that God did which we aren't allowed to do. Requiring a blood-sacrifice for forgiveness is one of those things.

Well...that throws my answer to Salt February 28, 2013 9:05 AM about the "Revenue Agent" right out the window.

You're SURE forgiving the IRS doesn't involve a blood sacrifice???

Anonymous Giuseppe Sarto February 28, 2013 12:44 PM  

There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. 529 Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin -

Anonymous DT February 28, 2013 12:57 PM  

On a more serious note...

First, we should define some terms. What do we mean by "forgiveness"?
and
Forth (to address the email), can't we forgive AND hold people accountable? Can't you forgive someone for killing someone and still expect them to go to jail for it?

You have to define forgiveness to answer that question, along with a number of questions in this thread. I'm curious to hear the definitions put forth by Vox and the Ilk.

Is forgiveness just letting go of anger and an inner feeling of peace? Is it telling the transgressor so they can feel inner peace? I have a hard time accepting that forgiveness is just a feeeeling.

Is forgiveness the removal of a just debt or punishment? That's more consistent with what God did for us.

What is forgiveness?

Anonymous Edjamacator February 28, 2013 12:59 PM  

Blast, I only have a minute before I have to go, but one thing popped into my head: Gomer.

God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a horrible woman, to illustrate his relationship to Israel. Now, it's been awhile since I read that book, but I'm pretty sure Hosea had to keep taking Gomer back and forgiving her despite her own attitude. If so, God would be showing more forgiveness than is attributed to him here so far. He was using that as a concrete example of his desire to retain a relationship with the Jews, and to show how even if they strayed, he was ready to take them back. This all before Messiah died. Again, I'd have to re-read it to make absolutely sure of everything, but I have to get to the dentist right now.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 28, 2013 1:00 PM  

"The ancients weren't surrounded by Stoli Vodka bimbos, 24/7 tribalized music, and instant access to any sort of perversion imaginable."

Sounds to me like a guy who's never read Catullus.



Anonymous Other Josh February 28, 2013 1:04 PM  

What does scripture say?

Matthew 18:15-17 requires repentance in dealing with sin. If the transgressor refuses to repent, he is to be treated as one who has no relationship with God. Hmmm. That's much different than blindly forgiving and pretending everything is OK.

We should not, however, harbor bitterness and revenge in our hearts. God has told us to commit all vengeance to Him "It is mine to pay, I will repay it" says the Lord. Instead, when your enemy is hungry feed him. If he is cold, clothe him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:10 PM  

What is forgiveness?

Not demanding punitive measures for an act. One might still expect reasonable payment for the loss, if the offending party is able to pay it.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:12 PM  

Meaning, if such payment is offered, don't refuse it because it is supposedly the Christian thing to do. If they proposed it, they'd probably rather pay it than feel that they're in your debt.

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 1:13 PM  

We should not, however, harbor bitterness and revenge in our hearts. God has told us to commit all vengeance to Him "It is mine to pay, I will repay it" says the Lord. Instead, when your enemy is hungry feed him. If he is cold, clothe him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

Which brings us back to my first question.... what does "forgiveness" mean, then? Or, to be more specific, "What does 'not forgive' mean?". If someone wrongs you and doesn't repent, yet you still walk in love towards them and "feed" them and "clothe" them... if you leave it entirely up to God to repay them, then WHAT exactly are you doing that can be categorized as "unforgiving"?

WATYF

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:17 PM  

"What does 'not forgive' mean?"

To God, consciously or subconsciously:

Have you taken vengeance yet? Have you taken vengeance yet? What about now? When are you going to take vengeance? And don't tell me that you are planning on making a Christian out of him. I want my vengeance. Have you taken vengeance yet? Maybe I should just do it myself.

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 1:18 PM  

Not demanding punitive measures for an act.

So how does requiring repentance for that go along with "whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back"?

And does that mean if a murderer repents and we forgive them, they shouldn't have to go to jail?

WATYF

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 1:19 PM  

To God, consciously or subconsciously:

Have you taken vengeance yet? Have you taken vengeance yet? What about now? When are you going to take vengeance? And don't tell me that you are planning on making a Christian out of him. I want my vengeance. Have you taken vengeance yet? Maybe I should just do it myself.


So, if they don't repent, we're allowed to obsess over when God is going to take vengeance on them?

WATYF

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:22 PM  

So how does requiring repentance for that go along with "whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back"?

Demand is the key. In the example of not-forgiveness, the servant was not able to give it back, so punitive measures were taken. Note that he didn't refuse to give it back categorically, it just had to wait until he was able to. The forgiven servant shouldn't have made the demand, but that doesn't mean that he didn't have a legitimate expectation of getting it back when it was possible.

And does that mean if a murderer repents and we forgive them, they shouldn't have to go to jail?

No, it's the victim who has to forgive.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:27 PM  

So, if they don't repent, we're allowed to obsess over when God is going to take vengeance on them?

No, we are merely free to ignore them. If they did repent, we would have to restore our prior relationship to them. The problem with pestering God for the vengeance is not that vengeance is wrong, it's about the unbelief it betrays about us. God has already said that he will repay. That should be enough.

Anonymous Fatherof10 February 28, 2013 1:30 PM  

Forgiveness is giving up my right to be angry for what someone has done to me.

It does not mean I trust them again, that I give them the opportunity to do it again, or that I absolve them of the consequences of their action.

Anonymous civilServant February 28, 2013 1:31 PM  

God doesn't forgive the unrepentant and therefore neither should the Christian.

Mark 11:25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Blogger Log February 28, 2013 1:32 PM  

The Lord forgives your debts as you forgive those of others (Matt 6:12). Therefore, if you forgive only after them who have wronged you have made you whole, likewise shall your Father only forgive you after you have made him whole (Matt 7:1-2).

Good luck with that.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:35 PM  

When we leave the vengeance to God, one of two things will happen. Either we eventually see them in eternal agony, and we will rejoice about the justice of God to the exact same degree as if that were any other offense against anyone else. Or, we will see them become Christians before God would have taken vengeance, at which point their debt for the offense is gone. We'll just have to accept that, then, since God has done the same thing to our debts. ("Debt" meaning the debt of sin, that requires punishment to pay)

THAT one may be the emotionally difficult sequence of events. And we may be tempted to take our own vengeance first, just so that it wouldn't happen.

Blogger JDC February 28, 2013 1:48 PM  

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12: 17-21)

Verse 18 is informative - "If possible" (meaning that there are occasions where this is not possible), and "so far as it depends on you," (meaning that you can't control another person's actions / thoughts). What I read from this is that there are times when "peace" is not possible.

These verses inform me regarding forgiveness. IMO:

Forgiveness is not:
a. Allowing the offense to reoccur
b. The same as reconciling
c. Based on actions but our attitude
d. Forgetting
e. A reward for our forgiving others
f. Approving or enabling sin
g. Neglecting earthly judgment
h. Trusting (I may have forgiven my biological father for certain actions, but he will NEVER babysit my kids)

Forgiveness is:
a. Returning to God the right to avenge
b. IMO a process
c. Acknowledging that the unrepentant will have to answer to Christ

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 1:49 PM  

Demand is the key.

Is it really? You're saying that Jesus really meant, "Don't demand it back, but you should expect it back"...?? That really doesn't seem to add up in light of everything else He's talking about there.

In the example of not-forgiveness, the servant was not able to give it back, so punitive measures were taken. Note that he didn't refuse to give it back categorically, it just had to wait until he was able to.

I don't see how the parable of the unforgiving servant even applies here, seeing how the servant he refused to forgive begged for leniency and wanted to pay him back. Obviously that guy was a douchebag for not forgiving him, but the question here is about forgiveness in the absence of repentance.

The forgiven servant shouldn't have made the demand, but that doesn't mean that he didn't have a legitimate expectation of getting it back when it was possible.

Really? Isn't that the opposite of what that parable was conveying? Isn't Jesus saying that the servant should have forgiven him the debt entirely and expected nothing in return, just like the king had forgiven him HIS debt and expected nothing in return?

No, it's the victim who has to forgive.

haha... OK, Mr. Loophole. Let's try this another way. If someone chops off my arm and then repents, and I forgive them, should they still go to jail for assault? Or what about a woman who is raped (the real kind of rape, of course :Op).

No, we are merely free to ignore them.

How do you ignore someone when you're feeding them and clothing them and doing good to them and loving them, as we're told to do to our enemies?

WATYF

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 1:49 PM  

Whenever this comes up the first thing that pops into my mind is "which side appeals to human nature and which doesn't?" Obviously, the entire "you don't have to forgive everyone" appeals to our base nature. The "forgive everyone" does not.

Taking something away from the word of God isn't the only thing in Satan's bag of tricks, sometimes adding to it works just as well. The objective is to make God's commands unreasonable (not just seeming unreasonable to our fallen nature, but actually unreasonable), and you can live with the extra-Biblical idea through the sheer force of cognitive dissonance, until it is really brought to a point in your own life. The exact moment you needed the strength, it will fail. It worked with Eve:

Gen 3:3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"

God hadn't said anything about touching it.

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 1:52 PM  

And I'd like to reiterate the statements/questions being posed by those who are mentioning the scriptures about God's forgiveness of us being relative to the way we forgive others.

WATYF

Anonymous SWW February 28, 2013 2:04 PM  

And what if you're not interested at all in vengeance, but merely want to be left alone?

I can't tell you how many times I've had people essentially imply "You have to let me be in your life. It's un-Christlike to write me off."

I'm talking about when there's no repentance or acknowledgment of any wrongdoing.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 2:11 PM  

Don't demand it back, but you should expect it back

Yes, if "expect" means that the best thing that could happen is that the offender pays back (or corrects the situation in some other way) according to the actual losses he has caused, without a punitive element to the sum. But perhaps he is genuinely not able to do so - fine, God will then give your reward. You don't get to demand the payment to be made at a specific point, since you have had debts forgiven yourself. Similarly, if you are the offending party, you should make the payment when you can, even if the one you have offended has forgiven you. For example, if you keyed his car because you were angry with him, you pay for the paint job anyway.

I don't see how the parable of the unforgiving servant even applies here

This particular discussion started when Paul S quoted:

Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves...

The parable was ABOUT our responsibility to forgive "up to seventy times seven".

Really? Isn't that the opposite of what that parable was conveying?

It seems to me that the problem was the punitive measures - getting the servant thrown in jail because he couldn't pay right there and then. I see no reason to think the king would have had a problem with "ok, pay me when you can".

If someone chops off my arm and then repents, and I forgive them, should they still go to jail for assault?

I don't know. Questions about correct policies in the society are dicey, because the New Testament times weren't going to be a theocracy. My first impulse would be "it would be wise for the judge to sentence them to jail because of what this behavior implies to the society at large, but if he doesn't, the society will not have wronged YOU in doing so".

How do you ignore someone when you're feeding them and clothing them and doing good to them and loving them, as we're told to do to our enemies?

If it comes to the point where they need you for such basic survival-related things, then tough shit for you. But in most circumstances it doesn't.

Anonymous Passinthrough February 28, 2013 2:17 PM  

I am coming late to the discussion so I haven't read and digested all the comments. My comments may be redundant but some things are worth repeating. My understanding of forgiveness is that God expects yea even requires us to forgive all who trespass against us. God's forgiveness is on a different level. He will forgive who he will forgive. The reason God requires us to forgive is for our own healing. We let go of the hurt, anguish etc. By putting all that baggage in God's hands, God is able to heal us of the hurt we have suffered. Our forgiveness of the trespasser doesn't negate the demands of divine justice. We are accountable to God for our actions.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 2:18 PM  

An example in the extremely small scale: My parents had the keys of their close, Christian friend, and managed to lose them. There was no sense of anyone having wronged someone, parents just paid for a new key and the friend accepted the payment.

But what if my parents had said, "forgive us for having lost the key", friend said, "sure" and parents said "ok, now we shouldn't give you any money for it, lest God be angry at you for not having REALLY forgiven".

Everybody ok with that?

Anonymous Anonymous February 28, 2013 2:18 PM  

Liberal Christians, as liberals every where, tend to see the part of the sentence that agrees with them and ignore any qualifiers which apply.

The two admonitions by Jesus which I always point out are:

Go,,,,,AND SIN NO MORE.

Forgive them, they KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.

Sorry about the caps, but I don't know another way to place the emphasis on the words being referenced.

Aaron Investigates..not Anon.

Anonymous kh123 February 28, 2013 2:20 PM  

Read the first line as:

"BP asks about the consequences of cheap gas and easy grace"...

Damn you and your weekly concise economic analyses. IT'S EVERYWHERE NOW.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 2:31 PM  

An example in a bit larger scale: Over five years ago, my business partner didn't pay my last invoice that was in the order of a few hundred Euros. I didn't seek punitive measures and I'm not harboring anger towards him, but I remember that this debt still exists. If he suddenly came to me with the money, I would consider the account to be properly settled - that maximum amount of justice has happened in the situation. If he doesn't, then tough luck for me. I've had my own debts forgiven by God, and I'm still on very much positive balance in this entire forgiveness thingie.

Anonymous willneverpostagain February 28, 2013 2:46 PM  

In the example of King David and his dalliance with Bathsheba, he had her husband Uriah murdered in battle, and she also became pregnant with David's baby.

He repented and told God he sinned against Him and only Him, and God removed his sin, but the consequences of that sin, even though forgiven, were:

1. The baby died.

2. The "sword" never left David's family.

Consequences and Forgiveness are not mutally exclusive.

Blogger tz February 28, 2013 3:42 PM  

The ancients weren't surrounded by Stoli Vodka bimbos, 24/7 tribalized music, and instant access to any sort of perversion imaginable.

No, they had worse. Far worse. Nero? That they had to have it delivered or walk or ride horses made it only slightly less instant.

We are called to love God with everything we are or have.

We are then called to love our neighbor as our self. Not only if our neighbor is nice, not only if they are friendly, not only if they return our love.

Our neighbor can be our enemy. If we only return the good we get - either diminished or with interest - Jesus asks how are we different from the evil pagans?

I have my version of "The little way" (St. Threse of Lieseaux). Basically it is the "Do unto others". When thinking about doing unto others, reverse your roles or places. If I've done something stupid and caused injury to you, what would you want me to do about it? I should do what you want (if it wasn't sinful) to repair things starting with asking for forgiveness. If I'm asking our Lord for something, how can I deny the same request when my neighbor makes it of me?

Love your enemies does not mean being stupid or encouraging their evil. Yet it might mean absorbing their evil. It does mean you should pray for them and take actions to make them cease being your enemies - come over to the side of the good, true, and beautiful.

The sermon on the mount is hard to live by. But that is what we are called, and can only do so by grace. We can have such grace, but only if we really desire it.

Blogger WATYF February 28, 2013 4:15 PM  

Yes, if "expect" means that the best thing that could happen is that the offender pays back (or corrects the situation in some other way) according to the actual losses he has caused, without a punitive element to the sum.

Is that really the "best" thing that could happen? Or isn't it better to be rewarded by God?

Similarly, if you are the offending party, you should make the payment when you can, even if the one you have offended has forgiven you.

I don't think that's in question. Remember, this is about forgiveness with a lack of repentance. If I'm going to someone to repay them, then I'm repentant.

This particular discussion started when Paul S quoted...

Right. So I'm saying that whole passage doesn't really apply here. I'm assuming that we're all talking about "forgiveness without repentance". If not, this could get really confusing.

It seems to me that the problem was the punitive measures - getting the servant thrown in jail because he couldn't pay right there and then. I see no reason to think the king would have had a problem with "ok, pay me when you can".

I don't see a reason to think that "pay me when you can" was in any way part of the parable (besides the simple fact that it wasn't included anywhere in the parable), and that is namely that the debt was enormous and beyond anything the servant would ever be capable of paying off. That was, after all, a key part of the parable: That the debt we've been forgiven is so huge that we shouldn't have any trouble forgiving the much smaller debts that any human could possibly ever have with us.

I don't know. Questions about correct policies in the society are dicey, because the New Testament times weren't going to be a theocracy. My first impulse would be "it would be wise for the judge to sentence them to jail because of what this behavior implies to the society at large, but if he doesn't, the society will not have wronged YOU in doing so".

So, is it correct to say that you see forgiveness and removal of consequences as the same thing?

If it comes to the point where they need you for such basic survival-related things, then tough shit for you. But in most circumstances it doesn't.

So, to you these statements have nothing to do with a proactive approach to treating your enemies well, and are solely "fall back" rules for if one happened to come to you in need?

I still don't totally see how this changes my actions at all. Maybe a better way to ask it is, "What is an example of an acceptable behavior towards someone that I'm not forgiving?"

And let's face it... in the majority of cases, "forgiveness" will have nothing to do with any kind of monetary repayment. What do we do when there's no physical "repayment" to be made? Someone lies or is unfaithful or back-stabs you or slanders you or doesn't follow through on their word or acts maliciously towards you or whatever. What are we talking about in those cases when we say, "I don't forgive them"?

WATYF

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 4:39 PM  

Is that really the "best" thing that could happen? Or isn't it better to be rewarded by God?

In total yes, although personally I would gain more if they didn't repair the situation.

Remember, this is about forgiveness with a lack of repentance.

No, the original claim to which you responded and which started discussion was about what non-forgiveness would look like in my view. My claim was that it was the lack of punitive measures being taken.

So I'm saying that whole passage doesn't really apply here.

It applies to the discussion you started with me, since it was Jesus's illustration of what the not-forgiveness looks like. It doesn't directly apply to what Vox originally said.

That the debt we've been forgiven is so huge that we shouldn't have any trouble forgiving the much smaller debts that any human could possibly ever have with us

You are begging the question on what it means to forgive - not demanding punitive measures or the cancellation of even the payment of reparations.

So, is it correct to say that you see forgiveness and removal of consequences as the same thing?

No. Jail is punitive measures. Those may be removed without doing injustice the victim, if and only if the victim has forgiven the offender. Paying for damages is not punitive per se (although a judge COULD award such a great sum that it is, in effect, punitive).

So, to you these statements have nothing to do with a proactive approach to treating your enemies well, and are solely "fall back" rules for if one happened to come to you in need?

To be judged on case by case basis. If my former business partner, for example, asked me to do more work for him, I would refuse. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't pray for his salvation.

What is an example of an acceptable behavior towards someone that I'm not forgiving?

"God will judge or save them. I will postpone my sense of injustice having been done to me until such a time that I see which it was."

And let's face it... in the majority of cases, "forgiveness" will have nothing to do with any kind of monetary repayment. What do we do when there's no physical "repayment" to be made?

That is when there is only the punitive element, and the offense is wiped out in full at the time of forgiveness. If they don't repent, the issue is left to God to judge at His chosen time.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 4:41 PM  

No, the original claim to which you responded and which started discussion was about what non-forgiveness would look like in my view. My claim was that it was the lack of punitive measures being taken.

What FORGIVENESS would look like, I meant.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 4:46 PM  

Here's one example of the proper attitude of unquestionably saved people, in Heaven, at New Covenant era:

Rev 6:10 they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"

They were anxious about the revenge, but they didn't COMPLAIN. That's when bitterness has taken root.

Blogger Duke of Earl February 28, 2013 5:16 PM  

There is a distinction between personal forgiveness and legal liability.

Being forgiven doesn't mean we don't have to repay our debts, and obviously if we commit a murder we would go to the gallows and fit the noose ourselves even though we would seek the forgiveness of the victim's family beforehand.

Peter's seven and Jesus seventy times seven should be seen in the light of the rabbi's teaching that you only had to forgive three times, and then you could demand vengeance. Peter more than doubled it, and Jesus expanded it to the nth degree. As often as your brother repents, forgive him, and all Christians are my brothers, part of the Christian social ingroup.

Anonymous Anonymous February 28, 2013 5:17 PM  

James May: you "forgive" Liberals? Isn't that passing judgment? Anyone who doesn't agree with your narrow minded, bigoted view of the world is wrong, but you forgive them?
Maybe you should start praying that people will forgive YOU.

Anonymous Other Josh February 28, 2013 5:26 PM  

Can we draw a distinction between what happens internally and externally?

If Markku came and smacked me in the mouth and then walked off, what should my response be, as a Christian?

Internally, I would take my anger & desire for vengeance and commit that to God. I would trust in Him to take care of it. I would seek to love my enemy. Maybe some people call this internal attitude "forgiveness".

Externally, if Markku never came to me and apologized, I would never say to him "Markku, I forgive you for hitting me". I don't believe I should offer forgiveness to an unrepentant person.

However, I would walk in love. If Markku is hungry, I would feed him, clothe him, etc...

Blogger JDC February 28, 2013 5:57 PM  

Holy Lord where is my mind these days...

@Other Josh - upon first reading your scenario...I thought the question you posed was,

"If Markku came and smacked me in the mouth and then whacked off, what should my response be, as a Christian"

If that was the case, my advice would be to tell the poor Finn he needs to get a girlfriend, and/or stop mixing his vices (e.g. masturbation and MMA).

Alas, I have reading problems. I see chef, and think it's chief, and i will never, ever be able to properly discern between desert and dessert.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2013 6:13 PM  

I seem to remember the prefix "pas-" having at some point being attached to the letters "JDC". I sure do hope you don't ever get your confessions in writing, or the poor parishioners may get more penance than they bargained for.

Blogger JD Curtis February 28, 2013 9:06 PM  

Forgiveness is more than simply not wallowing in having been wronged. You can simply write the person off and move on with your life without either forgiving them or wallowing in past events

A few years back I recall a minister uttering the prayer (re: forgiveness) Lord, please let me release others from my judgement. I thought that was appropriate being that not forgiving people amounts to that.

Blogger JDC February 28, 2013 10:43 PM  

@ Markku - Hey...I'm not the one going around committing random and gratuitous acts of violence and self gratification. I read somewhere in a blog that you did something like that. I would quote the source, but it has been a while. Must have been in the old PasJDC cocomment days. Too bad those confessions are gone now.

Blogger DJ | AMDG March 01, 2013 11:32 AM  

I'm sorry but I got to this 119 comments in, so forgive me for not reading them all...LOL...

I've struggled with the theology of grace for some time. I'm not sure I agree that forgiveness, or mercy, is conditional upon a repentance...or even the 'moment in time' crucifixion of Christ.

Luke 5:18-20

Luke 23:33-34

John 8:1-11

These are just a few examples of where I believe Jesus forgave specific sins without a person first demonstrating repentance for those sins. One of my favorite though does come after the resurrection.

John 21:15-19

Blogger Duke of Earl March 01, 2013 3:30 PM  

I think that it would be an idea to keep in mind, what are we, in Christ?

Jesus is the head of our fictive kinship group, he is, in Jewish terms, our kinsman redeemer, and our avenger of blood.

When I forgive someone I am giving up my right to personal vendetta, and giving it over to the master of the household. A case of, it's not my problem, it's his.

Obviously a dispute between Christians can be resolved within the family, the body of Christ, by those who are elders. The exact circumstances may vary, and equally obviously a dispute that involves matters of civil law (unless it is something that can be made right within the family) should be passed on to the civil courts.

Blogger Ranee @ Arabian Knits March 01, 2013 4:55 PM  

I have to dispute the statement above that says that because grace is free, it is therefore cheap. That is false.

I bought my daughter an American Girl Doll as a Christmas gift. It cost her nothing. However, it was $136 to get it to our door. It was not cheap. She simply didn't pay the cost. Were she to treat it as thought it were easily replaceable and damage it without thought, she would be treating it as though it were cheap. Were she to expect us to replace it without any effort on her part after being negligent or deliberately careless, that would be treating it as cheap.

Blogger Duke of Earl March 01, 2013 5:43 PM  

Ranee, you are entirely correct. God's forgiveness cost us nothing, but cost Jesus a great deal, becoming a man, the shame of the cross for one deserving the greatest honour, death for the deathless. The wrath of God, placed on one who could never have merited it.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.


As an atheist, I failt to see where religion and reason go together. But that's not the point of the moment.

Ever tried to justify a belief in reason within an atheistic worldview?

Your brain is the basis for your thoughts, your brain was put together by mutations and natural selection. Mutations have no teleology, they have no intent to make you think, and natural selection has only the goal of survival, not truth. You can believe any nonsense you like, so long as it keeps you alive long enough to breed.

Ergo, you have no basis for belief that there is any relation between the thoughts in your head, and reality, nor between what might be going on in your head, and what is going on in someone else's. Therefore, no basis for reason to appeal to.

“Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason--nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason. ”

Quintus Tertullian

Blogger Lud VanB March 04, 2013 5:18 AM  

I think i finally figured out what you christians remind me of...you sound like those battered wives you see on Cops making excuses for their abusive husbands/boyfriends right after he's done punching them in the throat about how he really loves them and they just couldnt bear to live without them...yep...thats christians relationship to God in a nutshell.

Blogger Duke of Earl March 04, 2013 8:12 PM  

I try to see anything remotely resembling an acquaintance with facts, reason, or argument in the above statement, and find nothing.

Just assertion, ad hominem, and non sequitor.

Which goes back to my previous statement. I guess thinking is a religious exercise.

Blogger Lud VanB March 04, 2013 10:25 PM  

Dont worry...one day when you grow up you might get it

Blogger Brad Andrews March 05, 2013 7:57 AM  

A bit late, but I wanted to note that God does not hold our sins against us at this point in time, which seems to me to be a lot more like forgiving those who didn't ask for it than many in the threat seem to note.

2Cr 5:19 KJV - To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Note that our sins still have consequences, but the only one that separates us from God is the one of not accepting Jesus' payment into our own lives. Much more could clearly be written on this.

Anonymous BenYachov March 06, 2013 3:49 PM  

>God doesn't forgive the unrepentant and therefore neither should the Christian.

Based on that same Lame logic "God ordered Israel to kill the Canaanite women and children therefore Christians may order Israel to kill Canaanite women and children".

Fallacy of equivocation.

BTW God does forgive all sinners including the unrepentant. But the nature of being unrepentant precludes the person from receiving said forgiveness.

I can give you pills to cure your ills but if you refuse to take them then it's your unwillingness to receive them that makes you get sick and die. Not me witholding them because you don't want them since I am not witholding them.

It's that simple. Christians must forgive all including those who hurt them and are not sorry or seek forgiveness. For their own sakes.

Blogger Brad Andrews March 12, 2013 8:39 AM  

I think the root issue is what "forgiving" means. I would suspect the definitions of that vary for the posters.

Post a Comment

NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. Anonymous comments will be deleted.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts