A Definition of Forgiveness

I came across this description of forgiveness in a book I’ve been reading, and I found it very helpful. Maybe you will, too Since the book isn’t specifically Christian, I’ve added my own words in bold to include my theological perspective..

Forgiveness is the act of admitting we are like other people.(we’re sinners). We are prone to make mistakes (sin) that cause confusion, inflict pain, and miscommunicate our intentions. We are the recipients of those human errors (sin) and the perpetrators (sinners). There is no way we can avoid hurting others or being hurt by others (sinning), because that is the nature of our imperfection (original sin). The only choice we have is to reconcile ourselves to our own flaws (sin) and the flaws (sin) of other people, or withdraw from the community (the church). If we choose to withdraw, we withdraw both from our humanness and from our connection to the sacred (God). Adapted from Life’s Companion by Christina Baldwin

This leads me to another thought, why do we go to such lengths to avoid the word, sin? It seems to be the one unacceptable word in our culture today. I guess that’s a topic for another post.

For more on forgiveness see:

A World Without Forgiveness

The Opportunity of Forgiveness

Forgiveness: It Does a Body Good

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt–Book Review

I’ll start out by saying, this is not a Christian book. The author is a self-professed atheist. It’s also not an easy read. It discusses some complicated, academic and scientific theories. However, I found it interesting because (in my mind, at least) it unwittingly supported some biblical doctrines. Like Carl Trueman’s book (The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman–Book Review) The Righteous Mind will take you on a journey through human history. He is a psychologist and his topic of inquiry is moral psychology. He draws on neuroscience, genetics, social psychology and evolutionary modeling to explain how it is that humans have found ways to form groups that are able to suppress selfishness and enable cooperation. Although I agree with many of his conclusions, I reject the reasoning (most frequently the theory of evolution) he uses to get there. For example:

  1. People are naturally selfish and will tend to act in their own interests …. sounds a lot like original sin to me!
  2. Although we think we are making decisions rationally through a logical mental process, studies have shown that we actually react intuitively, and then use logic to justify the position we have already espoused. This reminds me of the Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of predestination (we don’t chose God, He chooses us).
  3. When we do change our mind, it is not usually reason that convinces us, but relationships with those who believe differently. Could this be why God’s plan for salvation is individual believers going out into the world to “make disciples”? And then be encouraged by the Christian community (do not neglect meeting together)?
  4. Christians are not only more generous and loving to other Christians, they are better citizens and neighbors to non-Christians as well. Probably because the Christian community encourages us to serve others.

Anyway, you get the idea. Haidt closes with a call for better understanding between conservative and liberal political views. He believes there is a need for a balance between protecting traditions (conservative) and being open to change (liberal). Both views can be seen as positive. As he puts it,

“We’re all stuck here for a while, so let’s try to work it out.”

As Christians we believe we can do even better than this. We can honor, respect and love one another as brothers and sisters.

For more book reviews of nonfiction see:

You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith–Book Review

The Opposite of Certainty by Janine Urbaniak Reid– Book Review

this beautiful truth by Sarah Clarkson–Book Review

Katelyn’s Question #3

What is the basic moral nature of mankind?

This is a continuation of the following posts:

Is There a God? If So, What is God Like?– Or Katelyn’s Question #1

Katelyn’s Question #2

 

Sin is the basic human nature.  The term “original sin” is used to describe the tendency to sin which is born into all human beings.  This sin is inherited from Adam and Eve, because they ate from the tree of knowledge, against God’s command.  When Adam rebelled, his nature and that of all of mankind after him became sinful.  Romans 5:12 says:

“…sin entered the world through one man.”

Everyone was born with a sinful nature, but Romans 5:19 says:

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

The answer to original sin is redemption and salvation.  Through Jesus, the Son of God, all Christians, and those to come have been redeemed, or saved from sin.  Jesus was sacrificed on the cross to deliver us from sin.  There is no other way to overcome sin than by the power of the Holy Spirit, a power that is received when one becomes a child of God.  Christians are to not only recognize their sinful nature, but repent and ask for forgiveness of their sins.  Proverbs 28:13 says:

“Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Original sin is something all humans are born with, and it brings the consequences of ignorance, death and suffering.  Man is only saved from sin by the grace of God.  The Bible provides many verses that speak of redemption and remind Christians that their sins are forgiven through the death of Jesus.  Isaiah 44:22 says:

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”