More than a Feeling
Therapeutic Forgiveness: [According to Smedes], forgiveness becomes a means of being "healed" of your "hate," of which Smedes argues people have a right to be healed. Smedes internalizes and privatizes forgiveness by making it primarily an activity that goes on within individual persons' hearts and minds.
(Lewis Smedes, Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We don't Deserve)
Therapeutic Forgiveness vs. Biblical Forgiveness
TF: Forgiveness is a feeling. It is ceasing to feel resentment or bitterness.
BF: Forgiveness is a commitment to pardon the offender.
TF: Forgiveness is private or individual. It is "primarily an activity that goes on within individual persons' hearts and minds."
BF: Forgiveness is something that happens between two parties.
TF: Forgiveness is unconditional. Forgiveness should be granted regardless of whether or not the offender is repentant.
BF: Biblical forgiveness is conditioned upon repentance.
TF: Forgiveness is motivated primarily by self-interest. You should forgive others for your own sake. According to Smedes "Every soul has a right to be free from hate, and we claim our rightful inheritance when we forgive people who hurt us unfairly, even if their intentions were pure."
BF: Biblical forgiveness is motivated by love for neighbor and love for God. It is for God's glory and our joy.
TF: A standard of justice is not critical - it is about how a person "feels." According to this definition, you can legitimately choose to forgive someone who has not done anything wrong.
BF: Justice is the basis for forgiveness. You cannot legitimately forgive someone if he or she has not done anything wrong according to God's standards.
TF: Forgiveness can happen apart from reconciliation.
BF: Biblical forgiveness is inextricably connected to reconciliation.
Therapeutic forgiveness . . .
- distorts people's understanding of true forgiveness
- attempts to redefine how people understand God's forgiveness
- suggests that some people may even need to forgive God.
- results in "cheap grace" and a reluctance to identify and name evil
- discourages healing in Christian community.
- may make individuals feel licensed to avoid dealing with their own sin.
- does not prepare us as Christians for the persecution and evil that we may face.
(from pages 64-71)