Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is forgiveness? II

(ii) Not excusing but accusing
There is all the difference in the world between excusing and forgiving. To excuse something is to find a reason for it's not being so offensive after all, some mitigating circumstance or alternative explanation that reduces or removes blame. To the extent that an action is excusable, forgiveness is not required. Indeed, as C. S. Lewis points out, only the inexcusable can be forgiven.

Therefore, forgiveness is only required when genuine wrong has been done, and only to the extent that the offence was culpably inflicted. But this also means that to forgive is implicitly to highlight this fault. "I forgive you for reading my blog", implies that you have been doing something wicked.

Forgiveness, of course, needs to get beyond simply accusing, but it can't get around doing so. The wrong must be named, not simply swept under the carpet. Whom do you need to accuse, rather than excuse?
Fifteen points for naming the world-famous building containing this recently-added staircase.
Series: I; II; III; IV; V.


Anonymous said...

Stab in the dark guess for photo: The Louvre, Paris, France

Anthony Douglas said...

Beat me by twenty minutes. Ah well. I concur, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Byron

If to forgive means to accuse implicitly, does that mean one has to let the accused now he has been forgiven?

Can you forgive without the accused knowing he's been forgiven?

byron smith said...

Geoff - I do not think that forgiveness is conditional upon repentance, yet it always aims at repentance and reconciliation. To forgive without telling the one forgiven may be understandable in some circumstances (esp where it is impossible to do so, e.g. they have died), but it is not ideal.

Matt L - can't have been totally in the dark. Fifteen points.

Anthony - I'll give you three for being second.

Guy Davies said...

I accuse you of sounding very much like Volf in Free of Charge, not that that's a bad thing.


byron smith said...

Guy - I accept your accusation and do not repent of it. I started my sermon on Sunday with a book review/recommendation of Free of Charge and warned that I would be shamelessly stealing from it.

Guy Davies said...

Thou art forgiven!

(One of my Harvest sermons was helped along by the Giving section of the book.