Posts tagged Forgiveness
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; but rejoice when they get a bullet to the head — Jesus, Matthew 5:44
I’m late to the party. Bin Laden is dead, and everyone and their mother has blogged their brains out about it. Alas, it cannot be helped…
I’m at a loss for words because I’m genuinely filled with sadness about this day. I’m saddened because I’ve seen Christians–many of them unwittingly–rejoice and exult in the death of Bin Laden. I sincerely don’t mean this in a judgmental way–I have enough flaws of my own to not waste my hypocritical breath on others. But I’m saddened because my tongue-in-cheek revision of Jesus’ directive to love seems to have actualized itself in far too many ways.
I’m saddened because barely one week after Easter, we’ve forgotten the profundity of forgiveness and the depths of divine love (did we realize it to begin with?) that was displayed unconditionally to an infinitely twisted, broken, hostile, rebellious, and murderous race.
I’m saddened because on Divine Mercy Sunday, where all are invited partake of the Eucharist and find salvation, hearts are yet closed and actually rejoice in the destruction and presumed damnation of a human person…even if he was an More >
Based on what I outlined previously, I can imagine that a few objections might be raised to my conclusions (as unofficial as they might be…).
First, we might follow this logic:
- If God has already forgiven humanity for its sinfulness;
- and, in fact, the very coming of Christ is the great revelation of this reality;
- why, then, would we be concerned with the notion of asking for forgiveness?
That is, if our notions of “penalty” were really just confounded all along and we are not actually under any impending punishment for our sins, why the biblical injunctions to “confess” our sins?
I think this is a good question, but I also think it’s imminently answer-able within the structure I have suggested. As before, however, it requires getting beyond the notions of “penalty” and “requirement” that have plagued our thinking about forgiveness and atonement. But first, let’s take a look at what’s deficient in the other model.
In these old paradigms, the act of “asking” for forgiveness is, in actuality, a request that the presumed “laws” of justice be put on hold. After all, transgression–within a penal model–necessitates satisfaction, whether in act or consequence. Therefore, the plea for forgiveness is a hope against hope that just maybe “this More >
Without a doubt, becoming a parent has revolutionized how I think about God’s love. Before my daughter was born, the concept of God as “Father” had a very one-dimensional nature to it as I filtered this metaphor through my own experiences of being a son. However, when my daughter was born, God as “Father” suddenly blossomed into a much fuller concept for me, for not only could I think of this in terms of God as “Parent,” but now my own experience was impacted as God, as “Father,” began to have meaning for how I am a “father” as well.
And it is precisely these experiences which make popular theology about sin, atonement, and forgiveness so unpalatable and inexplicable to me. Earlier, I described briefly the structure of atonement as envisioned in popular theology, complete with the notions of “penalty,” “guilt,” and what-ever-else. What I find so striking is that, from a parental perspective, these concepts have absolutely no meaning to me when I apply them to my relationship with my daughter.The Personhood of Forgiveness
For example, consider the notion of “penalty.” Although I, as “father,” do give “laws” that my daughter should follow, her periodic transgressions of them do not More >
During my not-quite-eternal-but-still-15-hour return drive from Wichita to Kentucky over Christmas break, I happened to catch a radio interview of James Garlow, pastor of the ridiculously huge Skyline Wesleyan Church in sunny San Diego. On this program, Garlow was discussing his newest book, Heaven and the Afterlife, alternating between questions from the show’s host and callers to the show.One call-in was particularly interesting. A woman, who was clearly in the midst of a significant existential crisis, asked some pointed questions about the nature of God’s forgiveness. As she described, she believed that her past sins had been forgiven when she was saved, but was worried about her chances for heaven if she at some point forgot to ask forgiveness for future sins. In other words, she wondered if God would bar the doors to heaven if she died without asking forgiveness for any unconfessed sins.
As I listened, I felt very sympathetic for this woman, for she was clearly in the midst of some significant emotional distress. I also felt very frustrated because the source of her distress was simply an inheritance of bad theology, a severe misunderstanding of the nature of humanity’s relationship to God and the fundamental nature of More >