Sunday, 17 February 2008

Tim Challies asks, "Is forgiveness conditional or unconditional?"

Tim Challies asked an important question, "Is forgiveness conditional or unconditional?"
This kind of questions are often used to start off a discussion which helps us think through some of the difficult/obscure theological arguments, and it often requires defining the terms and contexts.

I think it's worth while reading his post, but I found that this time his post left me a little unsatisfied (as he predicted in the conclusion). I think he did not expand the idea far enough nor defined the terms used in his post tightly enough that some people will read into it too much and make a wrong conclusion about the Christian faith, or Tim himself.

I left a little comment on it in an attempt to express my view on "repentance" but I think I missed the point of the post as whole...


Chris Brauns said...

Thanks for your careful and cautious interaction. I'm the guy who wrote the manuscript that Tim quotes in his post.

It's hard to talk about forgiveness and not generate some confusion in the beginning. Our culture tends to assign a feelings based definition to forgiveness. When people insist that all should be forgiven, what they mean by that is, "You shouldn't be bitter."

However, biblically, forgiveness is a transaction that happens between two parties. When God forgives, he commits that our sin will not be held against us.

Usually, when I have talked with people long enough about this, they say, "Well, we mean the same thing. It's a matter of semantics."

The trouble is, that we cannot redefine biblical words. Semantics are important.

A feelings based definition of forgiveness is how we end up with statements such as the one Rob Bell made in Velvet Elvis that hell is full of forgiven people.

If one can be forgiven by God, and still go to hell, then forgiveness does not mean what the Bible says it means. . . .

Chris Brauns said...

I have a slew of posts on forgiveness over on my blog. The one containing quotes of several others on forgiveness (Adams, MacArthur, Sande, Piper, Duncan, etc) may be of interest.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Thank you for your comments. I shall check out what you collected on the topic of forgiveness too.