26 October 2009

miroslav volf on forgiveness

Hillcrest Medical Center holds an annual clergy seminar, and this year they brought in a big gun: Miroslav Volf, a theology professor at Yale. The topic was "Forgiveness." A few of my notes from the day:

+ Our culture has three modes of existence: Taking, Trading and Giving. These correlate to Revenge, Retributive Justice and Forgiveness.

+ Our culture has been stripped of grace--we don't know how to give or forgive well -- forgiving is an art. Forgiveness is a power that one has over another, and it is necessary to set that power aside in true forgiveness. When we forgive, are we actually using it as a tool to blame and condemn the offender, to hold the offense over him or her?

+ Two essential elements of forgiveness: 1) name the wrongdoing and condemn it; and 2) don't count the wrongdoing against the offender -- separate the person from the act.

+ At two different points during the seminar he said, "A consistent feature of sin is that it doesn't want to be sin." True on many levels--I take it primarily in the sense that sin wants to be accepted as it is, as holy. But I think there is almost a wistfulness to sin: while on one level it wants to be accepted as it is, on another level it wishes to be undone, cleansed and remade into holiness.

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