Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts on Forgiveness (part 2)

Part 1: Recently Watched: "Forgiving Dr. Mengele"

After watching the documentary "Forgiving Dr.Mengele", my heart and my brain really went into overdrive pondering the idea of forgiveness. As a Christian, it is a subject that I have heard about all my life. Mostly in regards to how Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and the sins off all mankind. It is  also something that I struggle with when it comes to forgiving those wrongs (perceived or real) that have been done against me.

What really got my heart riled up were some of the comments that others made about forgiveness after Eva Kor publicly forgave Dr. Mengele (the camp doctor at Auschwitz prison camp, who performed horrific experiments on the prisoners there, including Eva and twin sister). These comments included:

  • "You seem to be making a case for forgiveness under any circumstances, simply because of the effect it has on the forgiver. But, needn't there be some criteria met that the forgiveness is coming from a position of remorse, and perhaps a position of strength rather than weakness." (The speaker here, goes on to make the argument that the person being forgiven should take responsibility for what they have done in order to be forgiven.)
  • "I always thought forgiveness meant that you can understand why the person did this, and you can sort of feel sorry for them and comfort them." (This speaker ultimately was asking about what IS forgiveness, is it a separation from the events/perpetrator or is it a coming together with them?)
  • "I am not convinced that it is our place or our duty to forgive. We are not gods. And, frankly, I don't think that we owe anybody forgiveness. Justice, yes, justice we should forever seek, but forgiveness, it's not our place."
  • "It seems to me that deeds speak louder than words, and somebody saying that to me that 'I was stupid" would mean nothing unless he had done something specific in his life to make amends."
  • "Prerequisite for forgiveness is atonement on the part of the perpetrator."
  • ... for that I demand and I require gestures, acts, deeds of enormous significance. And I'm against, in every field, cheap grace. I understand where Eva's coming from, but to my mind there is something formulaic about it and therefore inadequate about it. 
  • "I say I cannot forgive first of all because I can't forgive, and secondly I don't have the permission to forgive." (This individual, another holocaust survivor, goes on to imply that if she were to forgive the Nazis that she would be denying what had happened to her, her parents, and anyone else who died.)
  • In a family, when a child does something and a parent forgives, it is a matter which is not being talked about anymore, and it's being forgotten, and it's as if it didn't exist."
Those comments, and more, started me asking myself some questions: What is forgiveness? Does it have to be earned? Is there a process that has to be gone through? Who can give forgiveness? Does the person being forgiven have to feel/show remorse?

These weren't just questions I was asking myself in passing, but serious heart issue questions that caused me to have problems falling asleep. So, what's a girl to do? Well this girl starts looking for answers. And, with questions of this magnitude, she starts looking for them in the Bible. This posts is getting kind of long, so I'll share what I found and my personal thoughts in another post about this.
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