I just watched a youtube video in which a minister explained why God couldn’t just forgive the humans he had created without first torturing and killing his son Jesus. His explanation was that “Real forgiveness comes from restitution, from costs, from sacrifice….”
Is that what Jesus taught? I didn’t understand it that way. So let’s see what Jesus did have to say about forgiveness.
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
To be forgiven by God I must forgive. So far, nothing about restitution or suffering.
Luke 6:37 NIV
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Once again, no restitution necessary.
Luke 17:3-4 NIV
So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says , ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
Okay, so forgiveness does come at a price. Repentance – feel or express sincere regret or remorse for your wrongdoing. There is, once again, no mention of restitution or suffering. But it should be noted that this is not about God’s forgiveness, but rather our forgiveness of one another.
Luke 23:33-34 NIV
When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
It seems from this that God only withholds forgiveness from the knowledgeable. The ignorant get a free pass. Not exactly the best defense in a modern court of law, but maybe if it was Jesus pleading the case… of course. This would support the idea that Jesus CAN intercede on one’s behalf, but not that he MUST intercede.
The cornerstone of the Christian religion is that the only way the omnipotent God could forgive the humans he had imperfectly created was to torture and kill his son Jesus because his forgiveness requires restitution and suffering. His love for us is demonstrated by his willingness to suffer for us, but we have to acknowledge it (preferably on bended knee) or else.
Or else what? Or else we won’t be forgiven and in that case the suffering and restitution is endless. Endless as in a million years? NO… fuck a million years. That’s not long enough to satisfy God’s sense of justice. FOREVER! And that is more than a gazillion gazillion years.
How do we know this is true? Jesus didn’t say it. So where did this idea come from? Could it have been invented by the early church fathers; the bishops who were recruiting ignorant illiterate, and superstitious people into the fold?
It certainly seems like a scare tactic to me.