While most actual theologians place a high importance on repentance, I’ve been emphasizing forgiveness.
This is because so many sinners cling to the argument that their sin was somebody else’s fault. How can you repent your sin if you’re dodging responsibility for it? Free will means you have the power to make your own decisions. Others may try to limit your options, but ultimately it’s your choice.
Jim Geraghty, remarking in today’s Jolt about the Las Vegas murder spree, observes:
We’re going to hear a lot of questions in the coming days about “why did he do it? Does it matter? Aren’t all of these shooters more or less the same?” In their minds, they’ve been wronged by the world; the world owed them something, and it refused to give it to them. The Isla Vista shooter believed he deserved pretty women; the Alexandria shooter who tried to kill GOP congressmen believed he deserved a world where his party was in charge. The Columbine killers believed they deserved a world where they would never feel ostracized.
Those are the kinds of sins that can get one’s soul consigned to hell, sins even the perpetrators know are monstrous, and can only commit after convincing themselves it’s somebody else’s fault.
This makes me worry too about people who never actually do anything monstrous, but who believe when monstrous things happen the victims had it coming. Because they were stuck up, or they voted the wrong way, or they professed the wrong faith.
God wants us all to atone, and repent, and forgive. It sounds so simple, but in the history of mankind it has always been the exception, not the rule.
When people tear down the institutions that make civil society seem normal, we discover in horrifying ways what this world’s real default looks like.