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Question about Jesus' Forgiveness of Sins During His Lifetime


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Showing 1-25 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 14, 2012, 6:01:19 PM PST
eonxl says:
This is a question I was thinking about yesterday. I'm sure it's been addresses before -- I certainly have not read every book or heard all the arguments, and any in depth study of the issue will quickly disavow one of the idea that there is anything out there that has not been voiced before -- but, that being said, I haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer during my cursory search... Feel free to point me to a link or book I should take a look at...

My question is about Jesus' forgiveness of sins in his lifetime. I'm not going to list examples of him doing this, because I think it's fairly common knowledge that he did. I am speaking of those times during the gospels where he says something to the effect of "Your sins are forgiven; go and sin no more."

I am making two assumptions about this action of forgiveness:

1. Jesus is taking that person's sins onto himself, and in essense wiping that person's "slate clean".

2. In order for someone to do #1, he must take on all the responsibility of that person's sin as well. i.e. You can't take on someone's sin without also taking on the responsibility that goes along with it...

Let me quote from a Christian website that I found while researching the issue, which describes it thus:

"Forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty."

I don't believe (but I could be wrong) that in the examples of Jesus forgiving sins, the actual sins are ever specified, but my understanding has always been that ALL of that person's sins were being forgiven. And it follows that many of the sins being forgiven were committed against other people -- after all, other than "thought crimes", ALL sins we commit are against others.

Let's assume one of those sins that Jesus forgave was stealing. The person being forgiven has stolen something from someone else. (This is a hypothetical example, since -- other than adultery -- no example of what the sins that were being forgiven is given. "Stealing" could be replaced by "lying" or "physically hurting" or any other sin you can imagine committing against another person.)

Imagine for a moment that Jesus wasn't there, and we were just dealing with someone who had done something to injure another. If that person is genuinely seeking forgiveness for the wrong s/he has done, what are that sinner's responsibilities? First, obviously, s/he must be genuinely sorry and contrite. But secondly -- and more importantly to my mind -- s/he has to rectify the wrong s/he has committed. If s/he has stolen from another, s/he must pay back what was stolen, and so on depending on the sin committed.

Isn't this just common sense? What good is a desire for forgiveness if it doesn't also include an action which rectifies the wrong that has been done?

My problem with Jesus' forgiveness of sins should be obvious by now: for Jesus to truly forgive someone's sins, he must also take on all the responsibility of those sins as well -- and that must, by necessity also include rectifying the wrong committed.

So my question is, why are there no stories of Jesus forgiving someone's sins and then going over to pay that person's debt or return what that sinner has stolen or healing a physical hurt the sinner had committed -- or whatever action would be required to rectify that specific sin (which could be numerous if you are forgiving EVERY sin a person had ever committed)?

How is Jesus' forgiveness of sins of any actual worth? I know the obvious answer is that he paid everyone's debt by dying on the cross, but that is meaningless to those that were actually wronged by the people he forgave while he was alive.

To me Jesus' actions in this way are nothing more than therapy -- and potentially very harmful since the implication is that the person he forgave went away feeling better without being commissioned with any responsibility to rectify the wrongs s/he had committed.

Does this bother anyone else? I find it very troubling. Please discuss.

--eric

P.S. This same argument could be made for his vicarious payment on the cross as well, but to me it is most obvious when thinking about what he did when still alive -- assuming of course that these are REAL stories about REAL people who have hurt other REAL people. (It's easy to think of these stories as metaphorical, but everything changes when you think of them as real events that really happened -- REAL people that were affected by this... Sometimes I think that Christians profess their belief in these stories as true events, but then gloss over their inconsistencies and consequences as if they were metaphorical. I don't understand how one can hold both views simultaneously?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012, 7:27:46 PM PST
DocMMV says:
Where would your line of reasoning lead you if I simply point out one insignificant error: forgiving one's sins does not mean taking responsibility for those sins.
Now where does it go?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 12:05:21 AM PST
eonxl says:
DocMMV says: Where would your line of reasoning lead you if I simply point out one insignificant error: forgiving one's sins does not mean taking responsibility for those sins.
Now where does it go?
e: I would say: Then what's the point?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 12:12:07 AM PST
DocMMV says:
And there we have it!
If you don't understand the "point" of forgiving sins, then why would you craft your position (as you have) without fundamental knowledge?

Consider the herald declaration at the birth of Jesus. (Try reading it in several versions or Greek if possible) It will help you understand the mission and the necessity of forgiveness.

Posted on Dec 15, 2012, 5:27:24 AM PST
eonxl says:
I'm sorry, DocMMV, you haven't enlightened me at all. Recommending I read the new testament in "several versions of Greek" sounds a bit pompous to be honest. You must be a Christian. I can tell by your attitude.

My question still remains: What was the point of Jesus' forgiveness of sins if doing so didn't result in any tangible difference for the person sinned AGAINST? How was telling someone, "Hey, I know you stole from someone but don't worry about it... you're forgiven" help anyone but the person who committed the wrong in the first place?

That wrong has still been committed. Nothing was done about it. In fact, harm was actually done by the fact that the person forgiven was relieved of the responsibility to correct his wrong. No good was done here. Like I said, it's not forgiveness, it's therapy. It's a meaningless action. That's my point. Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 7:37:41 AM PST
Vicki says:
Dear eonxl,

You said: "1. Jesus is taking that person's sins onto himself, and in essense wiping that person's "slate clean".
2. In order for someone to do #1, he must take on all the responsibility of that person's sin as well. i.e. You can't take on someone's sin without also taking on the responsibility that goes along with it..."

I don't agree with your assumption #2. Jesus is not obligated to go along behind us (as we confess our sin and ask for forgiveness) and correct the consequences of our errors.

However, we have in the gospels a couple of accounts of people who experienced a change so profound in their lives after receiving attention or forgiveness from Jesus, that they took extraordinary actions, themselves.

Zaccheus, the tax collector, reimbursed people he cheated four times the amount and gave half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus said that "today salvation has come to this house". (Luke 19).

Then there was the party at a pharisee's house, when a woman known to all to be a sinner (and not on the guest list) anointed Jesus and wiped her tears that had dropped on his feet with her hair.
Jesus said "her many sins have been forgiven- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7)

You said :"To me Jesus' actions in this way are nothing more than therapy -- and potentially very harmful since the implication is that the person he forgave went away feeling better without being commissioned with any responsibility to rectify the wrongs s/he had committed."

Jesus talked about our need to be born again, spiritually. That he came to give us life. That we are to forgive others as we are forgiven. The desire to go to the people we have wronged (if possible) springs from a regenerated heart.

The desire to forgive others, because we have been forgiven is a way of passing on the mercy that we have received, which is a lot more than just personal therapy when you consider how people can find reconiliation in their difficult relationships with all kinds of people. It is a form of love, after all.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 7:45:22 AM PST
DocMMV says:
Yes, I see your point. I saw your point in the original. You do not understand the fundamentals behind forgiveness and have crafted your own scenario of ill will. Generally (and with rare exception) forgiveness is tendered only after repentance. Your thief, would have had to make restitution (or move that direction). Secondly, should the victim of your thief apprehend him, he will face the civil authorities for his crime. This occurs with or without "forgiveness".
You're making up huge fantasies involving forgiven criminals and their victims without the smallest portion of understanding forgiveness. I don't want to have to go through every scenario you can craft, so either learn the basics or continue to be frustrated. Your choice.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 8:02:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2012, 7:36:57 PM PST
eonxl, David was forgiven his sin, but still punished for his actions, (2 Samuel 12;13,14) and as lambs were used to atone for sins, (Leviticus 4:32, Exodus 12;7) and provide life for others, and Jesus, the True passover lamb, (Genesis 22:8, John 1;29, 1 Peter 1:19) was sacrificed for our sins in the ultimate atonement, (Matthew 26:28, Romans 4:25), and even though our sins have been forgiven since the foundation of the world, as He Has been slain from the foundations of the world, (Revelation 13:18), Yet, He took on the eternal punishments our sins deserve, but not the temporal punishments our sins deserve, "Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed.", (Daniel 4:27, 1 Peter 4:8, Luke 11:41). Peace always in the Most Precious Blood of Jesus our Great God and Saviour

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 8:39:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2012, 4:02:49 AM PST
Acts5v29 says:
Good afternoon eonxl,

I think your question is a good one, but the notion of undoing the damage done may not have finely been the point in the forgiveness. Jesus was forgiving the sinner, not providing a service to the one sinned against, after all. Sins and retaliations can go through generations, quite difficult to resolve "justly" later on - in the way *we* understand and insist upon "justice".

When forgiving sins, Jesus was taking a burden off of the sinner - one which they were evidently suffering under (otherwise he would not have forgiven them as part of his care of them). To have sins which one could never (or could never conceive of a way to) repay would meet terrible ostracism and disgrace, with no prospect of a normal life thereafter (Matthew 18:(21-22)23-35). But with one's sins forgiven by God's representative - by God's authority - that person could recovery their own joy of life again, their inner spirit. More importantly - contrary to Law ostracism or dismissal from the Synagogue, both of which would declare them as dirty before God for the rest of their lives - they could feel that they were not separated from God anymore, nor most importantly from pursuing God's new direction of the Messiah in front of them.

I understand this may not satisfy the caveats of your question, but those caveats are earthly ways - as they were Jewish Law ways - and the Christ came to free us from that. His granting forgiveness was a foretaste of our leaving behind an earthly way of life, and instead living by the spirit of the Law.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 10:13:42 AM PST
when you are ready for enlightenment the light will arrive to do it

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 11:12:44 AM PST
Starting with you Post Script: They are, most definitely NOT metaphorical.

Jesus' payment for sins are of infinite worth, because the payment for sin required for them is beyond human ability to do so.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 12:03:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 15, 2012, 12:30:50 PM PST
B. Banks says:
eonxl,

You said: "My question still remains: What was the point of Jesus' forgiveness of sins if doing so didn't result in any tangible difference for the person sinned AGAINST?"

When Jesus was here on earth, He told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more;" this was [after] the men standing by refused to stone her to death (as the Mosaic Law, commanded).

Jesus, however healed the sick.

I don't recall any scripture that says that Jesus (personally) forgave anyones sin; although we know that He paid our (sin) penalty (on the cross). When Jesus was on the tree He asked His Father (GOD) to forgive those who placed Him there?

Remember when He taught His disciples how to pray...("the Lord's prayer")?

In Luke 7:50...Jesus says: "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace
...verse 48, Jesus says: "Thy sins are forgiven."

Also, I just realized that some people think that the key to heaven is forgiveness. It is not. Jesus is the key (way). Look at the thief on the cross.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012, 3:31:43 PM PST
Vicki says:
Dear B. Banks,

You said :"I don't recall any scripture that says that Jesus (personally) forgave anyones sin;"

Actually, Jesus caused quite a stir when he not only healed people, but also forgave people of sin. He forgave the paralytic of his sins and then healed him (Matthew 9:2), and the woman who anointed him (Luke 7:48).

Posted on Dec 15, 2012, 9:30:03 PM PST
Yog-Sothoth says:
Jesus paid the price for our sins against God with His life. In matters of sins against another person or society, we must first seek forgiveness, OR accept punishment from that person (or society) before we should approach God for forgiveness.

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

Keep in mind also, that FORGIVING others is just as important (if not more so) than being forgiven by them.

Posted on Dec 16, 2012, 9:21:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2012, 10:12:34 PM PST
eonxl says:
DocMMV: I am beginning to think YOU don't know the basics yourself...or don't understand them, because you seem unable to explain them in your own words... And the reason I created several hypothetical examples is because the bible doesn't actually give us any. I feel like Christians tend to profess that these stories are true but then they treat them like moral abstractions. By creating concrete examples, I'm trying to make them real again.

***
TO THE REST: I understand what many of you are saying -- that Jesus was concerned with the spiritual element not the earthly one... which is fine if this is just a morality play, but I'm asking how moral it would be in real life? My point is that Jesus seemed more concerned with the sinner than the victims of those sins. How is that a moral stance?

To see it more clearly, all you have to do is remove the supernatural aspect from the equation. If Jesus wasn't God, and he was just a man, were his actions moral? I think it's pretty clear that they were not. Telling people that they no longer need to worry about the wrongs they have committed and without commisioning them to rectify those wrongs is not a moral thing to say to anyone.

So, you might say, but he WAS God and that makes all the difference. BUT, I say, how can a god perform an act that would be immoral for a man?

What SHOULD Jesus have done -- if he was really god? Well, he could have "magically" rectified those wrongs at the moment that he forgave the person that did them. If he was god, he could have done that. That would have been just.

At the very least, he should have told those he forgave that receiving forgiveness does NOT mean forgetting about the responsibility to any pain they had caused others. That might not have been the popular thing to say, but it would have been the right thing to do.

Now, it really would have impressed me if Jesus had instead said, "You, Joe Smith -- you stole a loaf of bread. Go and work for the breadmaker until you've paid back five loaves, and THEN you shall be forgiven."

That would have impressed me much more than him simply saying, "You're forgiven. Go and sin no more." Hell, I can say that, and if I have fooled people enough, they will go away feeling a hell of a lot better... but was it a good thing that I did?

Perhaps Jesus just never forgave anyone who had done anything really bad. Of course that is rediculous and counter to the whole prescept of Christianity. But I suppose it is possible....

Consider some of the likely "sins" that might have been included in those forgiven: Rape, murder, child abuse, spousal abuse (theft was just one of the lesser sins I could think of...maybe the man he forgave had just raped his daughter -- should Jesus still have forgiven him and sent him on his way?)....

Should those who have committed such sins just be able to walk away and not worry about it anymore? It's this kind of thinking that has resulted in a theology that claims that a child murderer on death row can repent at the last moment and go to heaven, but a muslim girl in Saudi Arabia, who has had genital mutilation forced on her and whose life is one of utter subjugation, would, after going through hell on earth, then be forced into an eternal hell after death.

If Jesus had known that this is the kind of theology his words would inspire, would he have said something different?

Speaking of which, why didn't Jesus ever speak out about two of the commonest, and most heinous practices of the time: the mistreatment of women and children? The mistreatment of women and children throughout most of history is one of the greatest blights on human existence -- and this is an attitude that has only really begun to change in the last century. Surely Jesus was aware of this great evil? Or was he just a man of his times?

But it sounds like Jesus wasn't concerned about any of those things. Personally, I think Jesus would have done a lot more good simply by pointing out that women and children should be treated with respect -- it would have produced a world unimaginably better than the one he actually left us with.

Sometimes I think Jesus' aim was to increase the suffereing in the world rather than reduce it... he missed some very obvious opportunities to say some things that might have made a big difference in the world.

And that's my problem: with the supernatural element removed from his actions, they weren't really moral at all -- and that's no kind of morality at all.

--e

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012, 9:45:14 PM PST
eonxl says:
Acts5v29: I think your question is a good one [...]

e: Thank you. And now I'm going to feel bad about picking on some of the things you said (sorry):

Acts5v29: [...] the notion of undoing the damage done may not have finely been the point in the forgiveness. Jesus was forgiving the sinner, not providing a service to the one sinned against, after all.

e: I'm sorry, but you seem to be supporting my point here: that Jesus was more concerned with making the sinner feel better than he was about healing the pain done by the sin. If you or I acted that way, I would accuse either of us of being immoral and certainly not "good".

Acts5v29: Sins and retaliations can go through generations, quite difficult to resolve "justly" later on - in the way *we* understand and insist upon "justice".

e: Firstly, can you give me an example of this? And secondly, this sounds like you're just trying to confuse the issue. Perhaps this is true, but it doesn't have anything to do with the OTHER sins that were being forgiven -- the ones that DID cause personal harm to another by the sinner.

Let me ask YOU, Acts5v29 -- and others of a similar mind, when YOU sin against someone else; when you meliciously hurt someone in anger or frustration (as we all do from time to time) -- do YOU just ask God for forgiveness and then go on with your life without a worry? With no concern for the person you have hurt? If you DO, then I think you've been reading your Bible correctly -- that is the inevitable conclusion based on Jesus' actions.

But, I don't think it is a very moral -- or "good" -- way to live one's life.

--e

Posted on Dec 16, 2012, 9:59:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2012, 11:23:32 PM PST
What you are missing in all of this, Is that essentially all sin is against GOD. Therefore HE and HE alone has the right to forgive or condem. Sin, no matter how big, or small in our eyes, is sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus Christ our Lord. But, God commedeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (The ultimate price for ALL sin) Sin separates us from GOD, Part of Jesus' forgiveness is to restore us to communion with GOD. On the retribution side of things, would you, if you were just forgiven, remember everyone you have wronged, or everything that you have done, and be able to restore it? If your answer is yes, then why haven't you become your own salvation, and done it? If your answer is no, then why haven't you sought salvation in the only one who can give it?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012, 10:01:40 PM PST
eonxl says:
Yog-Sothoth: Jesus paid the price for our sins against God with His life. In matters of sins against another person or society, we must first seek forgiveness, OR accept punishment from that person (or society) before we should approach God for forgiveness.

e: Yog-Sothoth, am I correct in understanding that you are saying that when Jesus forgave someone, he was ONLY forgiving them for blasphemy and thought crimes and so forth, but NOT for all the other sins he had committed? I'm not sure most christians would agree with that...of course that has it's own set of problems... perhaps I misunderstand you?

Yog-Sothoth: Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

e: This is a fine verse -- even a good verse (other than the nonsense about the altar -- you should be doing this anyway and shouldn't need to wait till you go to the temple) -- but I'm not sure I see what this has to do with Jesus' acts of forgiveness during his lifetime... sorry, maybe I'm missing something...

Yog-Sothoth: Keep in mind also, that FORGIVING others is just as important (if not more so) than being forgiven by them.

e: I agree with this philosophy, but you are doing what most christians do -- you are confusing 2,000 years of christian theology and interpretation with an honest examination of the events themselves -- as they are actually described. They are not the same.

--e

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 12:52:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2012, 12:59:08 AM PST
eonxl says:
A voice in the wilderness: What you are missing in all of this, Is that essentially all sin is against GOD. Therefore HE and HE alone has the right to forgive or condem. Sin, no matter how big, or small in our eyes, is sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus Christ our Lord.

e: I'm sorry Wilderness (a name I've often used for myself), but this kind of thinking really annoys me. To me it's a kind of mystical, magical thinking that isn't grounded in reality. Are you going to go tell the women who was raped, or the child beaten to an inch of his life, that, don't worry about it -- after all, the sin was against God, not them? That's ridiculous.

This type of thinking completely ignores the reality of the human element and is exactly what I'm arguing AGAINST in this post. These are real people; they are not some mythical metaphor for man's rebellion against God. You claim the stories are about real events, but then you treat the people in them as if they are simply characters in a moral parable. Thinking this way allows you to ignore the real, human suffering and reduce it all to a tidy religious metaphor.

A voice in the wilderness: [...] On the retribution side of things, would you, if you were just forgiven, remember everyone you have wronged, or everything that you have done, and be able to restore it? If your answer is yes, then why haven't you become your own salvation, and done it? If your answer is no, then why haven't you sought salvation in the only one who can give it?

e: Okay, first of all, I'm not god, so your expectations of my capacity to be moral should be slightly lower than the expectations you should have for god. Also, I'm not the one going around forgiving sins, am I?

Secondly, is the right question whether you WOULD -- or whether you SHOULD? Surely, the question here is what "should" be done -- not what an imperfect human being might be capable of? Because, it sounds like you are arguing that Jesus was only human, and therefore we should judge him based on human expectations? Otherwise, what is the point of comparing MY capacity for moral action to his -- unless you are suggesting Jesus was only a man like me?

If Jesus was only a man, then he shouldn't have been forgiving sins (unless he was a closet psychotherapist). And if he WAS god, then he should posses the perfect morality of a perfect being, not an imperfect human being. You can't have it both ways...

As for why I haven't "become my own salvation" (whatever that means), the fact that I haven't does not inevitably lead to the conclusion that Jesus can. It's a non-argument. It's like saying, since you haven't "become your own salvation", why haven't you found your salvation in Allah? or Mithras (who was also sacrificed) or David Koresh or any other prophet or god that promised people salvation? It's a meaningless argument and could be applied to anyone. It doesn't say anything about whether Jesus -- or anyone at all for that matter -- should be able to offer "salvation" (I assume you mean "eternal life"?).

Further, YOU can't prove that Jesus HAS provided you with salvation. Until you die, and actually go to heaven, your salvation is not proven. Have you done that yet? If not, then for now, it's only a hope that you have while you're still alive. Until someone comes down from heaven (and I don't mean in 2,000 year-old myths, but tomorrow) and tells me about how they've gotten their salvation and they're here to prove it, your assertion is meaningless. Die and come back in your new body and finish your post here on the forum. THEN you can use that argument. --e

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 4:04:16 AM PST
BV says:
Vicki - "Zaccheus, the tax collector, reimbursed people he cheated four times the amount and gave half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus said that "today salvation has come to this house". (Luke 19)."

Excellent! That's exactly what I was going to post before I saw your post. However, eonxl did not seem to pick up on it.

It is an illustration that when your sins are forgiven, you are supposed to be a changed person, or "born again." As a changed person, you would naturally want to do anything you can to make up for what you had done.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 4:06:37 AM PST
BV says:
eonxl - "Further, YOU can't prove that Jesus HAS provided you with salvation. Until you die, and actually go to heaven, your salvation is not proven."

That's right. That's what faith is all about.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 4:12:12 AM PST
BV says:
Mat 5:23 - 24: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

Jesus says it right there - if you have wronged someone, go and straighten it out before going to church and acting all "holy!"

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 4:45:47 AM PST
eonxl says:
Vicki - "Zaccheus, the tax collector, reimbursed people he cheated four times the amount and gave half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus said that "today salvation has come to this house". (Luke 19)."

e: Ah, thank you BV, I did miss the tax collector reference. I try to read all the posts carefully, but hey... i'm not perfect. ;-)

This story about Zaccheus is probably the closest that Jesus comes to addressing the problem I raised, and thank you for pointing it out because I had forgotten about it. Before I posted this question, I tried to find a listing of all the references of Jesus forgiving people in the New Testament but couldn't find a simple collection of the verses. (If anyone knows of one, please post the link.)

HOWEVER, I have to point out that this is the closest Jesus comes to commissioning people to rectify their wrongs before forgiveness would be granted (I think the altar quote is a bit of a reach) -- and also please note that Jesus did NOT tell Zaccheus to do this -- he volunteered and Jesus approved. That's not nearly the same thing.

But still, good job. That's best you can find, but thanks because I'd forgotten about it. :-) --e

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 5:49:19 AM PST
eonxl says:
e: Vicki -- I completely missed your post and it was a good one. I'm sorry. Very well-written and well thought-out. Especially your reference to Jesus with the tax collector -- that was the best example anyone gave and I completely missed it. My deepest apologies.

Now, let me respond to a few of the things you said.

Vicki: [...] I don't agree with your assumption #2. Jesus is not obligated to go along behind us (as we confess our sin and ask for forgiveness) and correct the consequences of our errors.

e: Of course, when you put it like that, it just seems silly! But you're using this sillyness to avoid my entire argument: what I said was that if Jesus' forgiveness wipes a person clean of sin -- "as if it had never been" (as I've heard it described over and over in christian theology), then the only way to do this is to move that sin -- and ALL aspects of that sin -- from one person (the sinner) to another (Jesus). That is the only way he can truly remove someone's sin "as if it had never been". Part of the aspect of that sin is the injury it did to anyone other than the sinner. Making that injury right is the only true way to make the sin "as if it had never been". To ignore that aspect is to ignore the most evil part of the sin -- the injury it did to others. For Jesus to truly -- TRULY -- take on our burden of sin, he must also take on the burden of the injury that sin might have inflicted. Otherwise, he is NOT "making us white as snow".

And my point, of course, is that he doesn't do this. He is NOT actually taking on the full burden of our sin -- he's only taking on the burden of our guilt, which is wrong doing WITHOUT rectifying action, and that's easy to do.

Vicki: However, we have in the gospels a couple of accounts of people who experienced a change so profound in their lives after receiving attention or forgiveness from Jesus, that they took extraordinary actions, themselves.

e: Please, PLEASE don't use this type of argument. Many, MANY people have changed their lives in profound ways that had nothing to do with Jesus. How does that fit into your worldview? If you are going to make a statement like this and expect it to mean anything, you need provide examples of people who have changed their lives in ways that no other religion, philosophy, or personal goal has motivated someone to do. (It's not an argument that can be made... in fact, it's an argument that works against your position, because how can you explain all the martyrs and life changers who have been motivated by reasons that had nothing to do with Jesus?)

Vicki: Zaccheus, the tax collector, reimbursed people he cheated four times the amount and gave half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus said that "today salvation has come to this house". (Luke 19).

e: This is really the best defense I've seen, but it's still not a very good one. See my response to BV about this above.

Vicki: Then there was the party at a pharisee's house, when a woman known to all to be a sinner (and not on the guest list) anointed Jesus and wiped her tears that had dropped on his feet with her hair.
Jesus said "her many sins have been forgiven- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7)

e: So if we love people a lot we'll be forgiven? I must have miss that bit of theology in sunday school class. Likely this woman was a whore, and weeping from the way society had subjugated a woman of her class. Has she "loved much" because of the number of men she had slept with? It seems a strangely apropo thing to say when you consider her likely way of earning her living.

Why didn't he say "a woman who had suffered much is forgiven much" instead? that makes a lot more sense. Imagine how crushed this woman's spirit was by the society that used her but also persecuted her. Her spirit was so crushed, that she felt compelled to perform this humiliating gesture of submission. You seem to feel very little sympathy for the woman herself. Why didn't Jesus explain that most of the guilt she was feeling was unwarranted in the first place? Instead all he did was reinforce her own feelings of unworthiness. What about the society that created the situation where a woman with no husband and no family would find prostitution the only possible means of survival?

You look with such rose-colored classes at these stories... picking only the rosiest interpretation --- which often seems very fanciful to me...

Vicki:Jesus talked about our need to be born again, spiritually. That he came to give us life. That we are to forgive others as we are forgiven. The desire to go to the people we have wronged (if possible) springs from a regenerated heart.

e: "..we are to forgive others as we are forgiven"? Meaning that we should resolve one another of guilt and any need to rectify our wrongs. This means that if someone rapes you, you should make an effort to make sure they don't feel guilty about it, but not expect any compensation for the injury. Good luck following this principle. You don't actually of course...not in "real life" anyway... Only in an idealized vision of a bible story.

Vicki: The desire to forgive others, because we have been forgiven is a way of passing on the mercy that we have received, which is a lot more than just personal therapy when you consider how people can find reconiliation in their difficult relationships with all kinds of people. It is a form of love, after all.

e: I'm sorry, all this sounds very good and nice, and I'm all about forgiving others... but you're missing my point: what you are describing isn't "absolving someone of their sin", as Jesus was claiming to do. We can't absolve someone of sin, we can only absolve them of guilt for the sin they committed against us. This is not what Jesus claims to have done, so it's pointless to bring it up in this discussion.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012, 7:29:48 AM PST
Acts5v29 says:
Good afternoon eonxl,

I find it difficult to add further to my previous post, however in answer to your second point - an example of sins and retaliations through generations - we can look at the land of Palestine and the issues surrounding it.

As for the first point, Jesus was - indeed - addressing the health of the sinner. There were - and always have been - numerous injustices requiring a solution, but Jesus could not address those: it lay in the hands (or hearts) and free will of those involved. An example of this is Luke 12:13-31; there Jesus is teaching when a man cries to Jesus to enforce justice over a family dispute. You can imagine how this could have turned nasty - and the authorities were looking for any reason to arrest Jesus - so Jesus gave counsel in a humerous manner. He spoke of the "poor little rich man" who was on the verge of having to give away some of his harvest, because his storehouses were too small to hold them. Jesus showed that you can't take riches with you when you die, and ended with encouragement to the complaining man and to the crowd that there was something better.

Rather than address personal injustices - which were Legion - he addressed those who were ostracised. An example is John 5:1-14 where a man is at a "mystical" pool seeking a cure, but he has no-one to help him. Jesus cures him, but ends with the counsel not to sin anymore. Likewise, his forgiveness of people; bear in mind that, because of the crowds which surrounded him, the one forgiven would be seen as such publicly, so his re-instatement into Jewish life would be immediate with the highest credentials. For someone who had been cast out, there was no prospect of anything, but Jesus gave them their confidence, self-esteem, their life back - and they would not feel ashamed to follow him, which was the reason he preached to them.

As for your final question to us all, that is a little personal, but I do not believe in simply accepting forgiveness and missing our Lord's intention behind it. This is not contrary to what you have alleged regarding Jesus' teaching, but reflects the spirit of what he taught.

I hope this is useful to you,

Acts5v29
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Discussion in:  Christianity forum
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Total posts:  66
Initial post:  Dec 14, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 27, 2012

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