More about forgiveness: a quote from the book that I have been reading, “The Weakness of God” by John D. Caputo. Very insightful, Graeme.
Forgiven Time : Jesus and the sinners
“In the kingdom of God, we have been arguing, strange, incalculable, unaccountable, impossible things happen (which is also why we love it so). Among the most impossible of these, the most resistant to calculation, the most unaccountable, is forgiveness. Forgiveness, in many ways the most amazing grace (gift) in the kingdom, disturbs our sense of law and order, disrupts our sense of economic equilibrium, undermines our desire to “settle the score” or “get even,” blocks our instinct to see to it that the offenders are made to “pay for” what they did. Hence, it is the decentering centerpiece of a poetics of the impossible (if there is a center), the heart of the kingdom, the heart of a heartless world, and the principle un-principle of our sacred and eventful anarchy.
The sinners we meet in the kingdom are forgiven, even as Jesus forgave his Roman executioners – which is the sort of reversal we have come to expect in the kingdom. Sinners protected from stoning, even preferred, not crucified, and the preference shown them leaves the noses of the righteous out of joint.
The death of Jesus was interpreted in the early church as a prophetic death, not a sacrificial one, that is, the death of a just man who took a hit for telling the truth, for speaking the prophetic word, for contradicting the world and interdicting its hardness of heart with his parabolic stories of the kingdom. It was the ‘world’ that made Jesus pay – not God – for contradicting the world. It was the world that thinks in terms of paybacks. In this sense Jesus died because of the sinfulness of the world, not the sacrificial exchange for wiping out the debt of sin or to offer the devil a ransom. The world positively hated what it heard, hated this madness of the gift and this kingdom forgiveness. He came to the world and contradicted its ways, and the world made him pay for that. The system of payments belongs to the world; is one of the defining marks of the world, one of the defining features of the rule of the world, even as priestcraft, thinking in terms of rigorous sacrificial exchange, is sheer and utter worldliness (economics), even though it is engaged in celestial commerce in the exchange of heavenly wares. But the rule of God, of the Abba, is an event, is marked by the gift and forgiveness.
Abba, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Forgive these unrepentant Roman soldiers, who mock and torture and kill, and who are not the least bit sorry. Now that sounds like the kingdom. That has the ring of paradox of an event, of the weak force of God, of the power of powerlessness, of a sacred anarchy, of the parabolic excess of the kingdom. That is the way things work in the mad economics, the economics of a sacred anarchy, where abuse is returned by love, where offence is met with forgiveness, where Jesus completely disarms the Grand Inquisitor with a kiss, where the strict accounting system in the economy of exchange is thrown into confusion and disarray by unaccountable, impossible gifts.”