Friday, May 25, 2007

Forgiveness is scandalous

I am quickly becoming a HUGE fan of Miroslav Volf. Even though I generally only make my way through about 4 pages of Exclusion and Embrace at a time, I find that to be quite enough for one sitting: each page is filled with paragraphs that I've underlined and starred. For example, yesterday I had to pause to write down why Volf refuses to write off evil as ignorance (think of how most of America contemplates racism - even today I read mention by a thoughtful Christian of black/white racism as essentially ignorance). Against this, Volf says, "Evil as ignorance presupposes too much false ignorance and generates too many vain hopes" (page 76).

But E&E isn't why I'm writing right now. The subject at hand is Volf's newest book, The End of Memory, which was recently chosen for a Christianity Today 2007 Book Award. This is an excerpt from End of Memory:

Grace-filled forgiveness and the non-remembrance of offenses is scandalous, especially when extended to vile evildoers—say, to soldiers who have slain children one by one before their mother's eyes but refused to let the mother die, preferring "her to remain alive but inhabited by death." That many people feel a strong urge to reject forgiveness and non-remembrance is understandable. Moreover, no argument independent of belief in the God of infinite love who justifies the ungodly and finally redeems and reconciles the world can be constructed to persuade those who want to keep a tight grip on strict retributive justice and insist on erecting an indestructible monument to wrongs suffered. But if God's reconciling self-giving for the ungodly stands at the center of our faith, then nothing stands in the way of opting for grace, with its pain and delight, of forgiving and ultimately releasing the memory of suffered wrongs.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole excerpt here. And CT's interview with Volf here ("Our memory is not innocent in our hands ... so quickly the shield [of memory] mutates into a sword"). They're about four pages together, so you can read them in one sitting ... but you'll go away pondering them for the rest of the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After you mentioned it, I read and reread the interview in CT with Volf. So thought-provoking!