Forgiveness has not always been valued. Nietzsche, who denounced Christianity as a religion of pity, saw forgiveness as immoral because it glorifies weakness. Others have regarded it as an insipid response to the complexities of responsibility, power and justice. The Briefing #202 (May 1998)
Someone has called forgiveness ‘the most healing force in the world.’
’It would tire the hands of an angel to write down all the pardons God bestows upon true penitent believers. (William Bates)
Where we went with our vicious sins, there we must go with our soiled virtues.’ (W.E. Sangster)
We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.
Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until he has something to forgive. (C.S. Lewis)
He that demands mercy, and shows none, ruins the bridge over which he himself is to pass. (Thomas Adams)
’Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read or hear of to be gone to heaven, went thither because they were so good and so holy…Yet not one of them, not any one that is now in heaven (Jesus Christ alone excepted), did ever come thither any other way but by forgiveness of sins’ (John Owen).
’The repeated promises in the Qur’an of the forgiveness of a compassionate and merciful Allah are all made to the meritorious, whose merits have been weighed in Allah’s scales, whereas the gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.’ (John Stott, Authentic Christianity, 50)
Some people believe that when it comes to forgiveness, you just draw a line and forget it even though it’s tough and messy. But this is too simple. In Miroslav Volf’s excellent book Exclusion and Embrace, his basic argument is this: Whether we are dealing with international relations or one-on-one personal relations, evil must be named and confronted. There must be no sliding around it, no attempt—whether for the sake of an easy life or in search of a quick fix—to present it as if it wasn’t so bad after all. Only when that has been done, when both the evil and the evil doer have been identified as what and who they are—this is what Volf means by “exclusion”—can there be the second move towards the “embrace” of the one who has deeply hurt and wounded us or me. If I have named the evil, and done my best to offer genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, then I am free to love the person even if they don’t want to respond. (See www.wittenburgdoor.com/heavy-theological-dude-mistakenly-talks-us)
Clint Eastwood’s film Unforgiven gives a good picture of its theme: ’a place where the three R’s are retribution, recrimination and revenge; where every wrong set in motion a chain of retaliation that could only be broken by violent death.’ The Briefing #202 (May 1998)
’Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candour on television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, “What I envy about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.”’ Stott, The Contemporary Christian, 48
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was never known to hold resentment against anyone. Once, a friend recalled to her a cruel act that had happened to her some years previously. Clara seemed not to recall the incident. “Don’t you remember the wrong that was done you?” the friend asked? Clara answered, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting that.”