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Background Considerations

  • Quick definitions (a good Bible dictionary would be useful here)
    • sin in the Old Testament (sin [=missing mark], iniquity [bad action committed / good action omitted / guilt], transgression [=rebellion], evil)
    • sin in the New Testament (sin [=missing a mark / lawlessness / lovelessness])
    • repentance (turning about)
    • conversion (change)
    • forgiveness (lots of definitions and analogies)
  • Basic assumptions
    • the human situation and tendency in the face of offense
    • what forgiveness does in human community
    • what lack of forgiveness does in human community
  • Stories
    • The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal
    • personal stories

Relevant Biblical Passages:

  • Ephesians 1:3-4 – God has chosen us from the beginning to be blessed and a blessing – holy and blameless.
  • Romans 5:6-8 – God’s love for us shown in Christ’s death for us (and hence forgiveness) while we were still sinners.
  • 1 John 1:5-10 – THE message of importance for Christians has to do with walking in light (loving one another) and not in darkness; understanding that sin is a lack of love and that love is a prerequisite for forgiveness; that God is willing and ready for forgive and cleanse from lovelessness; that we deceive ourselves if we think ourselves without sin.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 – The pain of sin for the entire community of faith which, when pointed out by the community, leads to great sorrow on the part of the offender. It is the community’s responsibility to forgive and love.
  • Luke 5:17-26 – The story of the paralytic brought to Jesus on a pallet through the roof – issues of faith, forgiveness and healing; forgiveness as God’s prerogative.
  • Matthew 18:21-22 – Discussion between Jesus and Peter about how many times should a person forgive someone an offense – seven or seventy times seven.

Contributions to Study of Forgiveness

  • What is it that needs forgiveness? In other words, what creates an offense? How deeply affective and harmful does an offense need to be for forgiveness to play a role?

Lessons for Life

  • How, in general, does forgiveness or the lack of forgiveness affect human beings individually or in community?

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