Thursday, June 23, 2005

Forgive and Remember

Adam Kotsko has contributed a typically readable and insightful post to The Weblog.

It seems that in thinking of the Christian God and forgiveness, we must imagine a forgiveness which is complete, and yet also imagine a remembering which is not simultaneously a failure to forgive. God does not forgive and forget: God forgives and remembers. This is not easy to imagine, of course, because our experience of human forgiving is usually correlated with at least a certain sort of forgetting.

Kotsko picks up this theme and runs with it, exploring it a bit through some personal references and ending with some good theological rumination. Here are a couple of excerpted paragraphs from near the end of his post:

There is no forgiving if it must be accompanied by forgetting. This is why Bonhoeffer says that even in the eschaton, there will be sin. Just as Christ's wounds, the culminating mark of the history that is Jesus Christ, remain after the resurrection -- God's act of forgiveness to the world, the foretaste of his coming forgiveness, which comes only with judgment -- so will all of our wounds, self-inflicted and otherwise. The persons who will be resurrected are the exact same persons who lived stupid, petty little lives. If they are not -- if the human race is ever replaced by an unwounded and unwoundable perfection -- then there is no redemption. The world to which, despite everything, God says yes, is this world, this world that we are continuing to create and (perhaps more often) to destroy.

If something like Christianity has anything to offer to the future of this world, it is surely forgiveness -- a forgiveness that is conditioned neither by a morbid inventory of the past nor by a forgiveness that denies the past has happened. Nothing will be destroyed, nothing will be lost -- and nevertheless, there is a future. The denial of the past is the denial of the future as such, which instead becomes an infinitessimal present, where absolute possibility becomes absolute impossibility.

Go now and read it all.


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