Monday, September 17, 2007

Forgive me for bringing this up again...

Forgiveness.

A while back, I took a stand other than the popular (and, to me, incomprehensible) evangelical position here. Upset some folks.

Dear Libbie broached the subject again here and here.

She linked to a good essay on the subject over at NeoFundamentalist. The anonymous writer's position is similar to mine. Read it, and our interaction in the comments.

Taking the opposite position is Valerie (— who, like my wife, does not wish to be called "Val," thank you very much), who alludes to something by the often-incomprehensible-to-me Douglas Wilson.

Both Neofundamentalist and I cite Scripture that directly creates our position.

Neither Valerie nor Wilson cite one Scripture that directly states that a Christian should "forgive" someone who commits and clings to a sin against him. Their position (as I read it) rests instead on concepts and assumptions and extrapolations and is, to me, as I keep stating, impossible to make sense of.

I'm always concerned when I feel that someone is taking a Biblical concept (i.e. grace, forgiveness, family), and just sort of "goes" with it. I really only feel safe if I specifically anchor my development of a concept as closely to Biblical texts as I can. On this specific, for as popular as the notion of "unconditional forgiveness" is, it's remarkable to me that advocates cannot adduce one direct command to extend it.

NOTE: Valerie refines her position some in comments on Libbie's second post. She makes some very good points, including this wonderfully well-phrased thought: "We should be predisposed to forgive sins committed against us. That should be our default position." Amen.

I know it can be difficult to forgive, but for the life of me, I have never, ever understood how genuine Christians — who know they've been saved from the fires of Hell, and forgiven inexcusable atrocities against a holy God — can knowingly and deliberately refuse to forgive a person who asks for forgiveness. Now, on that one, there is some pretty specific Scripture (i.e. Matthew 18:35).

12 comments:

Susanna said...

I just read Libbie's post, left a comment, read both yours, and realise how fluffy my comment now sounds! I believe that true forgiveness can only come about if someone asks for it- and in doing so repents for what has happened. However I also agree with Valerie's comment- about being pre-disposed to forgive others- especially those wo offend without realising it.

donsands said...

Thanks for kicking this around.
It's been helpful to read your thoughts.

In His prayer for us, the Lord tells us to ask for forgiveness as we forgive those who sin against us.

And Steven when he was being stoned asked God to "not charge them with this sin".

And the Bible is very clear that forgiveness is granted when one repents; even up to 490 times.

So I would see that forgiveness depends on one wanting it. And if they don't, then we ask God to have mercy on them.

That's as far as my thinking takes me.

ThirstyDavid said...

Right on all counts, Dan.

The main objection I get to the idea of conditional forgiveness comes from those who think not forgiving means holding a grudge. It does not. I can not forgive someone, and yet not stew about it or be bitter, angry, or vindictive, or even think about it at all. I can go on and pretty much forget about it, and be as loving an kind to them as before. I should be praying for their repentance, in love. Love & grudges don't go together.

DJP said...

Really surprised how quiet this comment-thread ended up being.

Maybe I should only post once a week.

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

Dan, I do have some additional thoughts...just haven't had time to sit down and put them on paper...or pixels.

While you're waiting, may I suggest you tweak the time stamp on your comments to show the date, as well? It's pretty easy to do in your Blogger settings, and gives readers a clue as to how recent or stale a conversation is. Of course if you don't, I'll forgive you...whether you like it or not! ;-)

DJP said...

Done. Didn't realize they weren't. Thanks.

(I forgive your monergistic forgiveness attack!)

Libbie said...

I'm really pleased I threw some thoughts out about this, it's helped to clarify my thinking on the matter. ThirstyDavid's comment in this thread was a good summation of the conclusion I think I've come to.

Casey said...

Good post. Can't remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but I'm glad I did.

NeoFundy said...

Yup...good summaries all around...btw...I'm not really anonymous: Here I am

DJP said...

You're three different people? Wow! Weird.

NeoFundy said...

LOL...I'm the only one of the NeoFundamentalists who uses a pseudonym, and my name is easily attached to it.

NeoFundy said...

BTW...you aren't far from me (Sacramento)...We ought to get together sometime (I'll be in Vacaville Friday).