Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is Forgiveness Conditional or Unconditional?

Based on a discussion this morning with some friends I thought it would be wise to post this article from Justin Taylor dealing with forgiveness.  This is a very important topic and I think it is wise to be sure that we are using language that reflects the truths of the Bible as we discuss what forgiveness is and isn't.

He writes:
Is it possible for a Christian to remain fully obedient to Scripture, with kindness and tenderheartedness, loving his enemy as himself, and yet at the same time not granting forgiveness to an unrepentant offender?

From what I can discern from the evidence in the Bible, and from what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls “good and necessary consequence,” I’m persuaded that the answer is yes. “Love your enemies” is something that we should do at all times and in all places. It is modeled after God’s love for his enemies, whom he loves even when they are “unjust” and “evil” (Luke 6:35). At the same time, our forgiveness of others is likewise modeled upon God’s forgiveness of sinners, whom he forgives conditioned upon their repentance. God does not forgive apart from repentance; neither should we. In major offenses, we are not to forgive the unrepentant.

In the event of a tragedy that involves the loss of human life brought about by wanton human sin, it is therefore wrong for Christians to call upon immediate forgiveness in the absence of repentance. Such a call both cheapens and misunderstands the biblical doctrine of forgiveness.
Read the whole article for a very responsible treatment of this issue.

I would strongly recommend Chris Braun's book, Unpacking Forgiveness as well.


Riley said...

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Paul said...

Can't recommend highly enough Brauns's book. For a deep dive on this issue see my review (here), a synthesis between Brauns's work and N. T. Wright's (here), and my two posts on Miraslov Volf's work Free of Charge (here and here).

Maxwell Smart said...

I say unconditional for sure.

See Bible quotes about FORGIVING on or search the Bible on