Is there forgiveness?
I was reading a blog yesterday, and I ran across this teaser:
Here is something that Richard said that struck me: "God never forgives - he punishes" wow...let that digest.Since I'm working on the class about grace, and we are specifically focusing on forgiveness right now, that sentence struck me, so I explored it more. I went to the originating post, at Hebrews 9:11-28.
Go read the post on your own, but my general summary is that God never forgives ... he punishes. The idea is that the crucifixion was my punishment, and that I am not forgiven. The idea is that God doesn't love the sinner, he loves the person Christ makes us to be by accepting our punishment. The grace in this is that God punished someone else. There is no forgiveness.
What do you think of that?
I think it ignores much of Jesus' teaching on forgiveness, just one example being the prayer he prayed on from the cross, "Father, forgive them..." It seems to me that Jesus knew that there definitely is forgiveness. I also think that the main idea in that blog post -- that God doesn't love the sinner -- is contrary to the main theme -- the main idea of the God of the Bible. God loves me (and you) from the moment he thought of me, from the moment he breathed life into me, he has loved me. My sin does not stop him from loving me; in fact he loves me so much that he never walks away, in spite of my sin.
I tossed the idea to my co-teacher, guest blogger and commenter, Jeff the Methodist. His response:
I think God loves me. I think God has always loved us. I don’t think God ever stopped loving us. I think God knows how sin hurts us. How it hurts others, and comes back to hurt us. He wants us to experience oneness with him. He wants us to be perfect. He knows we cannot grasp forgiveness (without atonement) and grace and unmerited love. He became human so that he could experience humanity through our eyes, and so that a blood offering could be given, so that we could “get it.”So that we would "get" it. He loves us so much that he went to (and continues to go to) extraordinary lengths so that we would finally understand it -- be able to grasp the enormity of God's grace and love.
Is there forgiveness? I think to deny it is to deny the love of God.