Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is God's forgiveness conditional or unconditional?

I was thinking the other day about how a lot of people think that God's forgiveness is conditional because God only forgives people who want His forgiveness or ask for it. But I'm not sure this is entirely correct.

You could say that there are two kinds of forgiveness: conditional and unconditional.

They can be shown in this way: suppose a superior decided to make your life really difficult in your workplace and started being passive aggressive or even somewhat abusive towards you. Conditional forgiveness is that you'll forgive them if they stop bothering you, making your life hard, and so on. Unconditional forgiveness is that you'll forgive them even if they decide to be even more difficult towards you and don't care at all whether you forgive them.

What is God's forgiveness more like according to the above analogy?

If God's forgiveness is conditional, then people have to deserve or earn God's forgiveness in some way before they get forgiven. So God would be like someone who won't forgive a person if they won't stop their bad ways. Therefore, if God forgives us conditionally, then we have to 'step up' and get our act together before we get forgiven.

If God's forgiveness is unconditional, then we don't have to earn God's forgiveness in any way before we get forgiven. The forgiveness would always be extended, whether we wanted it be or not. Whether this forgiveness actually reconciles us to God would depend on whether we wanted to have a relationship with God.

Under the unconditional view, our relationship with God is more like a damaged friendship when one side wants to reconnect with the other side, but the other side doesn't want to at all. That is, I might want to talk to someone again, but nothing will happen if that person actively avoids me. And so the break, or split, continues, maybe forever. And, as you can probably guess, hell would be that broken connection lasting for an eternity, where someone doesn't interact with God in any way forever.

To continue with this view, you have to see the warnings in the New Testament not to do bad stuff as saying that people who do bad stuff don't really want to have a genuine relationship with God, rather than, 'If you do bad stuff, God will take away His forgiveness until you stop', broadly speaking.

Here are some verses on this:

Eph 2:1-5: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved."

Col 2:13: "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,"

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