Must We Forgive?

"Biblical forgiveness is accompanied by the repentance of the sinner. And since Scripture tells me to forgive as God has forgiven me (Col 3:13), then I see no reason to offer 'total and unqualified' forgiveness to the unrepentant." - Tim Miller

938 reads

There are 6 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Tim has a strong argument, but there's a linguistic problem. We need a word for "unilaterally letting go of an offense so it doesn't make us bitter and eat our soul out." ... which is what happens if we don't "forgive" the unrepentant. Maybe "forgive" is not technically the right word, but what would be the right word?

For my part, I'm going to call it forgiveness, with the caveat that the "target" is not actually forgiven in the sense of restoration... that would require repentance. It's a provisional forgiveness, as far as the relationship goes, but for the victim (and we are all victims!), it's a vital healing step!

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jeff Howell's picture

Chris Brauns has written in detail on this very thing. He makes the same argument. The title is Unpacking Forgiveness. I recommend it.

JSwaim's picture

If the offending party repents and the offended party forgives, the result is reconciliation. If the offending party refuses to repent, the offended party should still forgive but is not obligated to pretend that reconciliation has occurred. 

The biblical pattern for this is that Christ forgives sinners (or offers forgiveness) but if sinners do not repent they are not reconciled to God.

Dan Miller's picture

I think the proper Christian attitude towards those who wrong us and are unrepentant is to long for the chance to forgive them. As you think that through, it is short of forgiveness, but it shares much with it.

Lee's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

I think the proper Christian attitude towards those who wrong us and are unrepentant is to long for the chance to forgive them. As you think that through, it is short of forgiveness, but it shares much with it.

I think you may be onto something here. In both scriptural and experiential observation I'm failing to see the practical application of forgiving without some element of repentance.

Lee