Friday, March 15, 2013

Mark Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is Not

Earlier today I posted a section of Mark Driscoll's book Who Do You Think You Are? regarding what forgiveness is. Now we must discuss what forgiveness is not and again Driscoll is helpful here. In my work as a pastor and Christian, it is this question that is rarely given but often asked. "You mean to tell me I have to act like nothing happened?" is one variation of the question that comes when I discuss the radical, gospel-centered notion of forgiveness. This is why I find Driscoll so helpful here.
  1. Forgiveness is not denying that sin occurred or diminishing its evil. In forgiving someone, we don't say, "Nothing happened," or that something was "no big deal." Instead, we say sin happened and that it was such a big deal that Jesus died for it.
  2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin. To forgive is not to allow offenders to remain stuck in their cycle of sin, thus being complicit and enabling their continued transgression. We can forgive while still being truthful about someone's behavior.
  3. Forgiveness is not necessarily a response to a repentant apology. Sometimes sinners will acknowledge their wrong and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes they don't. sometimes we don't even know who the offender is or how to locate him or her; other times the person is deceased. Either way, we're to forgive whether there is an admission of guilt or not. Christianity is unique in this way, as other major religions teach that you cannot forgive someone who hasn't apologized.
  4. Forgiveness is not covering up sin committed against us. in fact, if a crime is committed, we can simultaneously forgive someone and seek legal action.
  5. Forgiveness is not forgetting. It's commonly believed that we should "forgive and forget," which is impossible. When God said, "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more," he didn't mean he has no recollection, as that is impossible, because God is all-knowing. Instead, it means that God doesn't begrudgingly hold our sin against us and keep it as the basis of our identity and interaction with him. Furthermore, when we forgive someone, we're remembering the sin so that we can forgive it. To demand that someone completely forgive without remembering that he or she was beaten, raped, betrayed, or any other array of sinful actions is to demand the impossible and add burden.
  6. Forgiveness is not trust. Forgiveness takes a moment, but trust is built over time. And once trust is lost through sin, it can take much time to be rebuilt.
  7. Forgiveness is not reconciliation. It takes one sinner to repent and one victim to forgive, but it takes both to reconcile. Therefore, unless there is both repentance by the sinner and forgiveness by the victim, reconciliation can't occur, which means the relationship remains continually broken until reconciliation does occur. Your forgiveness is the beginning of potential reconciliation but not in and of itself reconciliation. (165-166)

For more:
Mark Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is
Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is Not
"Death By Love" by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears: A Review
Doctrine by Mark Driscoll
"Real Marriage" by Mark & Grace Driscoll
Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll
The Radical Reformation by Mark Driscoll
Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll 
"God's Hand in Our Suffering" by Mark Driscoll

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