A Discussion of Hauerwas on the Virtue of Forgiveness of the Christian Community

A Discussion of Hauerwas on the Virtue of Forgiveness of the Christian Community

Wai-hoi IP

Is forgiveness a matter of human's will, decision and character only? Stanley Hauerwas takes a different position towards the matter. For him, forgiveness is firstly a gift from God, who revealed his forgiveness through the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for humanity; those being forgiven, as a Christian community, have both the power and responsibility to forgive others. Also, this kind of forgiveness, in practice, needs truthfulness, because Christians should point out the wrongs and, sometimes, even to counter the sins of others, and only then learn to forgive each other as God has forgiven their sins. As a result, forgiveness brings reconciliation and peace in the Christian community. This is real peace, without the cost of telling lies, taking forgotten (ie choosing to forget) and using violence. So, Hauerwas believes forgiveness is the basis of the so-called, “Peaceable Kingdom”. In addition, forgiveness is trained through praying individually and as a community. This is because, on the one hand, forgiveness is a gift from God; so Christians must ask Him to offer it to them. On the other hand, forgiveness is exercised on the community. Hauerwas, as a member of the Mennonite church, pointed out that they reject taking forgiveness as just a manifesto from God. It is also a truthful reparation to others that have sinned against us; so forgiveness is a truthful devotion to both God and community. This is a process of being a community and the disciples to our Lord. Such kind of forgiveness is strange to the world and, indeed, it challenges the world.

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