Is True Forgiveness Possible?


Mark Vernon dismantles various versions:

Evolutionary doctrine itself undermines our capacity to forgive. Rather, it teaches that we learn it's in our own self-interest to co-operate. We put up with others because, at some deep level, we know we serve ourselves in so doing. That's not forgiveness.

Surely, you might be thinking, Christianity teaches forgiveness, a forgiveness that is real. But once more, that can be challenged. Take the parable of the prodigal son. You may half remember it as the paradigmatic tale of forgiveness, the father forgiving the son in spite of his profligacy. But read it again. Forgiveness is not once mentioned. The son does not ask for it. The father does not offer it. … Forgiveness is impossible. Instead, what it reveals is another virtue in operation, the love the father has for his son. It is wildly extravagant. It gratuitously throws a party. The past is not forgiven. It is simply sidestepped. Is this what God's "forgiveness" is like too?

(Image: James Tissot's "Return of the Prodigal Son")