Archive for the ‘forgiveness’ Category

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you

May 22, 2013

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

C.S.Lewis, On Forgiveness

If God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make a final end to violence—that God would not be worthy of worship

December 14, 2009

If God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make a final end to violence—that God would not be worthy of worship…. The only means of prohibiting all recourse to violence by ourselves is to insist that violence is legitimate only it comes from God… My thesis that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many… in the West…. [But] it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human non-violence [results from the belief in] God’s refusal to judge. In a sun-scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die… [with] other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.

Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Abingdon, 1996), pp. 303-04.

Renounce thy vengeance

November 15, 2009

(When Papillon was finally free he prayed):

“Lord, forgive me if I do not know how to pray; look into me and you will see I don’t possess words enough to express my gratitude to you for having brought me this far…What can I do to show you that I am sincerely grateful for your care of me?”

“Renounce thy vengeance”

Did I really hear these words or did I only think I heard them? I don’t know: but they came so suddenly, like a smack in the face, that I’d almost swear I really did hear them.

Oh no! Not that! Don’t ask me that. These people have made me suffer too much. How can you expect me to forgive those bent cops, or Polein, that perjured witness? How can I give up the idea of ripping out that inhuman lawyer’s tongue? I can’t do it. You’re asking too much…I’m sorry to offend you, but at no price whatsoever will I give up carrying out my revenge.

Papillon, p.561

Justification is not mere pardon

September 2, 2009

To condemn is not merely to punish, but to declare the accused guilty or worthy of punishment; and justification is not merely to remit that punishment, but to declare that punishment cannot be justly inflicted… The one is the remission of punishment, the other is a declaration that no ground for the infliction of punishment exists.

Charles Hodge in John Stott, Romans, p.110

Guilt unrelieved

August 25, 2009


…so we misbehaved

Next day at school, in order to be punished,

For punishment made us feel less guilty. Mother

Never punished us, but made us feel guilty.

Harry, THE FAMILY REUNION, Part II, Scene 1, T.S.Eliot

Could self-harm and self-destructive personal habits be a desire to punish ourselves and so relieve, to an extent, our feeligns of guilt?

Can God forgive the vilest of crimes?

August 25, 2009

(Hamlet, having killed his brother and married his wife…)

O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
A brother’s murder. Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will:
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what’s in prayer but this two-fold force,
To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?
That cannot be; since I am still possess’d
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.
May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

Forgiveness can only come without neglecting justice. Christ suffers that the demands of justice be met for the crime committed and yet mercy be extended to the repentant.

Guilt needs a divine physician

August 25, 2009

(Lady Macbeth is restless and talking in her sleep. She paces to and fro in the early hours obsessively rubbing her hands)

Lady M.  Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man (King Duncan) to have had so much blood in him?
…Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!…

…Doct.  This disease is beyond my practice…

Macbeth then asks the doctor:

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d/Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow raze out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the fraught bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart?

To which he replies: Therein the patient must minister to himself.

Macbeth,Act V. Scene 1, 3

As the doctor said:

Unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician. God, God forgive us all!

Macbeth, Act V. Scene 1

Forgiveness – Mrs Noreen Hill

August 22, 2009

Ronnie Hill, 68, was buried beneath a wall when the IRA detonated a 40lb bomb on 8 November 1987, killing 11 people and injuring 63.

 Mr Hill, the former headmaster of Enniskillen High School, fell into a coma two days after the attack in the Co Fermanagh town, and never regained consciousness.

 His wife, Noreen, was at home peeling potatoes when she heard the explosion and said she knew instantly her husband had been injured. She has cared for him ever since, using her compensation money in 1991 to buy a nursing home in Holywood, Co Down. It was the only way she could live with her husband and provide him with round-the-clock care.

 Mrs Hill, who has four children, was convinced that her husband could hear people talking to him even though he was unable to communicate or move.

 Yesterday, Dr John Ross, the former Presbyterian Church moderator and a friend of the family, said Mr Hill’s death brought mixed feelings. “I’m very sad and yet I’m happy for him and in some ways also I’m happy for the family because it’s been 13 years under enormous pressure that is unimaginable.”

 In an interview to mark the 10th anniversary of the bombing Mrs Hill spoke of her love for her husband and said she prayed for the people who planted the bomb. After the Omagh bombing in 1998, which killed 29 people, she sent a message to the families of the victims telling them it was hard not to be bitter but urging them not to “carry bitterness around with them. It is a dreadful burden to have to carry.”

The IRA attack happened as a crowd waited for the Remembrance Sunday ceremony to begin at the war memorial in Enniskillen. It led to widespread condemnation and prompted the IRA to issue a statement the next day in which “deep regret” was expressed. A unit had planted a remote-controlled bomb targeted at soldiers but it was not intended to explode during the service, they claimed.

 The Independent

Forgiveness Demands that Justice be done

August 22, 2009

No words of mine can ever express the deep remorse and regret I feel for what I was involved in over a quarter of a century ago and for the unpardonable length of time it took me to find the courage and decency to confess my part in those crimes.

I shall forever carry the scars I sustained through the wounds I inflicted, whether in prison or outside.

But I do believe that God has forgiven me, and I try not so much to look at the past, but to the present and the future.

When Mrs Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, wrote to me in 1986, I was devastated by the first realisation of just how desperately those families of the children still missing were suffering.

Followed as this was, by what I believe was a purely coincidental visit by Greater Manchester Police, I knew that I had no choice for the sake of those families and my own peace of mind – even for my salvation – but to confront what I had done and confess, and to attempt some kind of reparation in addition to my imprisonment.

Whilst I still feel the pain of my guilt, I also know I cannot turn back the clock, and that I can do no more than I have already tried to do.

I am still in contact with the family who, in spite of what the media would have people believe, know that I will never cease to help them in any way I can.

I can only say that it is my hope that I will be treated with the same fairness and justice as would any other life sentence prisoner, however difficult.

Myra Hindley, who died 15/11/02 BBC

It’s hard to read these words without considering whether she is sincere. And for Christian theology it raises the fact that forgiveness, not just hers but ours too, can never be a violation of justice.

If there is not justice for the despicable crimes she committed, then forgiveness is sentimentality at best – an obscenity at worst.

Gordon Wilson – Enniskillen

August 22, 2009

Gordon was the father of Marie Wilson, one of 11 people killed in the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing by the Provisional IRA. Marie was a young nurse who died, buried in the rubble with her father, who held her hand and spoke with her during her last moments of consciousness. I genuinely thought he was the nearest I would ever get to being in the presence of a saint. Gordon’s description of that ghastly deed in November 1987 echoed to the far corners of the world. He spoke of the last words between himself and his dying daughter in a famous BBC interview:

“She held my hand tightly and gripped me as hard as she could.

“She said, ‘Daddy, I love you very much’.

“Those were her exact words to me and those were the last words I ever heard her say.”

“But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge.”

“Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life.”

“She was a great wee lassie. She loved her profession.”

“She was a pet. She’s dead. She’s in heaven and we shall meet again.”

“I will pray for these men tonight and every night.”

These words may be among the most-remembered from the decades of conflict in Northern Ireland, uttered by an ordinary, but yet extraordinary man — a man who until that fateful day had quietly run a family drapery business in Enniskillen.

Although a resident of Northern Ireland and a Protestant, Gordon was invited to become a member of Seanad Eireann, the Irish Senate, in 1993.

On many occasions Gordon met with members of Sinn Fein. He also met once with representatives of the Provisional IRA, seeking the reasons for the Remembrance Day bombing, but failed to get a satisfactory answer.

Sadly, Gordon died of a heart-attack in 1995, aged 67, some months after his son David had been killed in a road accident.

 Belfast Telegraph