rotsaP leoJ has commented on my last post about Christian forgiveness.
Thank you kindly for your thoughts. I did say this was an exercise in discernment. :-D Let me try to see if I can form an explanation that satisfies both of us.
1. The way I interp the Willis' intentions is that they withhold the consolation of forgiveness from the imprisoned Gov. in hopes that it will play a part in stimulating him to repentance.
I don't think that "do not feel capable of forgiving" is a fair way of describing their state of mind at all. That link branches off to several others, and I read them all, so that might help you understand them as well.
our forgiveness cannot be predicated upon the other fellow ceasing to sin.
-In most cases, I agree - see Point 1 of the post.
-In certain cases, I disagree, but I would restate it to say "predicated upon the other fellow more or less explicitly repenting of his sin", rather than "ceasing to sin" - the "70 times 7" thing would knock out the "ceasing to sin" part.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, the prayer goes; and we are forgiven - that is, the penalty of our sins is satisfied - long before we have the capacity to repent.
No argument there at all. But on the grand scheme, forgiveness of sin is ACQUIRED thru repentance and faith.
it violates the example both of Stephen and of Christ, forgiving those who obviously were not close to repenting.
It is true that their examples present a difficulty for my position. I'd say a few things in response.
1) Christ - Lk 23:34. That verse is actually a textual variant, interestingly, of at least questionable origin.
As for Stephen, I'd say that he was following Christ's example. Possibly, in fact, since the Acts psg is not in question wrt textual crit, perhaps it was copied back into Luke by some scribe a little later on. Or perhaps Christ did indeed say that or sthg like that from the Cross, but it wasn't in the autograph. (Both of those are proposed as possibilities in the NA27.)
2) The situation is that Christ is being nailed to the Cross. This is the ultimate and infinite injustice, that the sinless and holy Savior should be put to death by sinful men for hypocritical and untrue accusations, mostly just to get Him out of their way. God has responded in the past to such blasphemy and horrifying disobedience by the following actions:
-Causing flaming brimstone and fire to swallow up a few entire cities
-Killing everyone on Earth with a flood
-Causing the ground to swallow up Korah and 100s of others
-Sending a plague to destroy 1000s of others the day after Korah
-Sending burning serpents to kill 1000s of others on a different occasion
-Utterly wiping Israel (N Kingdom) and later Jerusalem off the face of the Earth
-Ditto with Tyre
-Ditto with Nineveh
etc. So I see a parallel there, between those great sins and the great destruction that followed. Jesus is interceding for humanity, to this effect: "Father, we both know that this is an infinite injustice; there is no question it's worthy of obliterating the entire planet with a wrathful explosion. Yet do not do that, I pray. Do not destroy, but let us be patient and save for ourselves a people for our own possession." Sthg like that, specifically related to the horrible act of crucifying God.
3) John MacArthur suggests (I seem to recall) that He is interceding for those who are participating, and who would eventually repent and believe.
4) 1 Cor 2:8 - the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Ignorance of the Law is no excuse, ultimately, but it does play a part in mitigating certain consequences.
2. presumably the Willises do not imaging they are delivering Gov. Ryan over to Satan.
Yes, but I'm not trying to apply the considerations from every "don't forgive absent repentance" scenario to all of them.
3. of course no-one can forgive offenses to other people, conditionally or otherwise. The condition of the person seems highly irrelevant.
Perhaps it is irrelevant, though I don't know about highly. I think I was relating the idea of withholding forgiveness to the idea of confronting the offender and asking them to repent. Obviously, if one forgives the offender unilaterally, no confrontation takes place. And of course, as you said, a 3rd party has no standing to forgive anyway.
4. I submit that such formal arrangements for the constitution of the church are not directly intended to govern individuals.
I'd be inclined to agree, so I could have made that a little more precise in terms of differentiating between how we treat fellow blvrs and how we treat unblvrs, it would appear.
If we direct the idea straight at intra-church relationships, however, I think this is still highly relevant b/c a grave offense against a fellow blvr will need to be dealt with for the good of the offender and the church itself.
Like the Willises, again: I see no reason to suppose that Gov. Ryan is legitimately a brother subject to the discipline of their church, so what on earth are they trying to prove by withholding forgiveness?
Yes, I agree, no ch discipline is possible here. But I think you are leaving out sthg I tried to emphasise. I should think this paragraph from the post answers:
And let us remember the distinction we made earlier about the freestanding commands not to remain angry, not to let bitterness take root in us. It is all about the attitude of the offended party in these cases – we don’t want the offense to remain, we want to forgive, but we postpone and withhold forgiveness b/c it bolsters the possibility of a better outcome in the future for the offender. This motivation is out of love as well, and this fits very well into God’s overall scheme for forgiveness of humans.
so are they just going to try to wait him out until Ryan becomes a Christian?
Keeping in mind the caveats I mentioned, this is kind of a crude way of putting it, sort of.
Ryan's repenting of ALL of his sin before Jesus' Cross is the best-case scenario. For him to at least say that he did wrong and apologises for THAT sin, I should think it would suffice for forgiveness to be extended, since that's the example of Scr. One hopes and prays for the former with a ready heart to forgive when true repentance is offered.
If sincerity is to be the test, no non-Christian can ever really repent
I should think this comment confuses sincerity with full realisation of the gravity of the offense.
They may not know how bad their action was, but they can know that it was bad and that they are sorry for it.
What about people who cut them off on the interstate?
Really, I think my post is sufficiently clear to be able to differentiate between the offense the Willis family suffered and being cut off in traffic. This strikes me as a bit of a cold comment from you, and that surprises me a bit.
Anyway, I hope that helps. As always, more discussion is welcome.