Why are some harms easy to forgive and others hard to forgive? To answer this question, sympathy and free will turn out to be very relevant indeed. – Michael McCullough
What is the Theology?
The Scriptures often testify to the complexity behind choosing forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35) while also reminding us that forgiveness is essential to Christian relationships (Prov. 17:9). Sermons can utilize this research to launch deep discussion behind the complexity of practicing forgiveness by introducing biological and/or evolutionary realities. In addition, sermons might explore the importance of having theological or philosophical frameworks such as, yet not limited to, “free will” in navigating the process of forgiveness.
What to Consider
- In his article, McCullough assumes that forgiveness functions as a way of reconciling two persons. How does this understanding compare to other conceptions concerning the purpose of forgiveness, such as simply releasing oneself of one’s own anger?
- What possibilities does a distinction between free will and sympathy create in choosing forgiveness in your life and ministry?
- How do you think your congregation would define their theology or forgiveness?
- In your life and ministry, when is forgiveness easy, or a natural process driven by sympathy? When is forgiveness a difficult set of choices purposed toward reconciliation?
How to Go Deeper
- Preach a sermon (or sermon series) on a theology of forgiveness. Take time to explore how your church doctrine, tradition, and experience inform your theology of forgiveness.
- Make space for yourself and your parishioners to reflect on the question of why some harms are easier to forgive while other harms are much more difficult to forgive.
- Hold a prayer service in which members of your congregation can learn to put their theology of forgiveness into practice.
- Make space in your church service, or in small groups, for members to share testimonials about their own difficult path in receiving or offering forgiveness.
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Which Contributes More to Forgiveness, Sympathy or Free Will?
Article by Michael McCullough (2013)
Read the Full Article
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