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New Age Forgiveness

 

I sometimes watch the Larry King show on CNN to see how people think on certain issues.  Recently I watched Larry King interview four new age thinkers.  The topic of discussion for the few minutes I saw concerned love and forgiveness.  I was so disturbed by what I heard I felt compelled to put my fingers to the keyboard and address this topic again.  

 

Larry asked them, ďwhat is forgiveness?Ē  I was waiting for their definition, but none was given.  One answer went like this.  ďIt brings about a peace in your life that you canít otherwise find.Ē  Thatís a result of their perception of forgiveness.  Thatís not forgiveness.  Stating a particular result of an action is not defining that action.  This vague answer is an example of how new age post-modernists think.  Christians should not think in such vagueness. 

 

The same vague answer was given when Larry asked them to define the word love.  They couldnít do it.  They couldnít define one of the most used words in the world.  They talked their way around the question, but all concluded that you had to love yourself before you could love others.  Thatís not defining love, and itís certainly not Biblical thinking. 

 

When it came right down to it, all four people King interviewed understood love and forgiveness in a purely self-serving way.  The reason why they love and forgive is to maintain their own peace of mind.  It had nothing to do with the person who needed to be loved and forgiven.  I wouldnít really call that love or forgiveness.  Self-centeredness is at the heart of new age thinking.

 

As Christians we need to be clear on this issue.  I believe the Bible states clear and concise definitions of words, including these two words.  Without going into all the scriptural details, because Iíve done that in other articles, let me state briefly how the Bible defines these words because we often misunderstand them.  Many of us actually hold to a new age viewpoint without even knowing it, and itís because we donít know what the Bible says.

 

You hear Christians say. ďfor our own peace of mind, in our hearts, we must forgive our offender.Ē  If this is our understanding, we forgive without any interaction with our offender.  Thatís not forgiveness, and neither is it love.  Forgiveness isnít a one sided action done secretly in your heart that ignores the offender and the offense. 

 

The Bible doesnít teach us to ignore our offender and his offense.  God doesnít do that, and neither should we.  The Bible teaches that at some point in time we are to gently point out the offense to the offender. We do  so in order to help him repent of his offense and be reconciled to the one he has offended.  We donít get mad at our offender.  We just want to help him.  The goal to all this is not retaliation.  Itís restoration of the offender and the damage caused by the offense.  Thereís no new age self-centeredness here.  

 

Once the offender acknowledges his offense and decides to stop offending, then, and only then can we forgive him.   That may sound unsettling because many of us have been taught to forgive no matter what.  Thatís what the new agers teach, but thatís not Biblical forgiveness. 

 

Forgiveness is the act of cancelling the offense.  Itís not covering the offense over in your heart.  Many think if we just forget about the offense, weíve forgiven.  Not so.  Forgetting isnít forgiving.   Iíll explain.  If the bank tells you that your mortgage is forgiven, that means itís cancelled.  You owe nothing. Youíre no longer accountable for the outstanding balance.  Thatís what forgiveness is.  Itís the cancelation of the offense, as if the offense had never happened.  You no longer hold the offender accountable for his offense.  Forgiveness is a transaction between the offender and the one offended.  Each party has a part to play in the process of forgiveness.  Itís not a unilateral action done in the privacy of the offended oneís  heart.  When the offender expresses repentance for the offense, the offended one cancels the offense and acts as if it never happened.  Simple logic says that you cannot cancel the offense if the offender wants to keep offending. 

 

Love plays a role in forgiveness. God is our example here.  He loves the offender whether he repents or not, but He doesnít cancel the offense without repentance and trust in Him.  God doesnít expect us to do something He doesnít do Himself.  So we love the offender whether he repents or not.  We love him as if he never offended us, but love isnít the cancelation of the offense.  Justice enters into the equation at this point.  Justice always demands accountability for an offense, and we know God is just.  Love provides a way for the cancelation of the offense, but justice demands that the offense remains until the offense is accounted for and repented of.  Thatís how God treats this issue,. We should do the same.   

 

I donít believe in a post-modern new age approach to Christian thinking.  We need a clarity of mind that comes from proper Biblical thinking. Forgiveness is the cancelation of an offense upon the offenderís repentant request to have his offense cancelled.  If there is no request to cancel the offense from the offender, the offense cannot be cancelled because it has not been accounted for.  At the same time, whether the offender repents or not, we still love him, but love isnít forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not an action you do secretly in your heart for your own well being.  Itís a transaction between two people that occurs for the sake of the offender and the damaged relationship caused by the offense.  

 

In closing Iíd just like to say that  love is unconditional, but forgiveness is conditional upon repentance.   

          

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