Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Freedom to forgive

I am continuing to slowly work through Miroslav Wolf's Exclusion and Embrace: A theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation with a discussion group. This past week we discussed the first half of the chapter on Embrace. Here are a few quotes:
The central thesis of the chapter is that God’s reception of hostile humanity into divine communion is a model for how human beings should relate to the other. 
He considers this in terms of repentance, forgiveness, "making space in oneself for the other", and "healing of memory."

He critiques the modern notion that "Freedom is the most sacred good." The schema of "oppression" and "liberation", "victims" and "perpetrators" can be a problem because both often claim the higher moral ground and the relative roles are sometimes just determined by who is in fire. Furthermore, conflicts
"are very messy. It is simply not the case that one can construe narratives of the encournter between parties in conflict as stories of manifest evil on the one side and indisputable good on the other."          (p. 103)
He insists that love not freedom is ultimate.
Furthermore, there is no "final reconciliation", contrary to the offers of communism and the American constitution (my insertion).
I will advocate here the struggle for a nonfinal reconciliation based on a vision of reconciliation that cannot be undone....   reconciliation with the other will succeed only if the self, guided by the narrative of the triune God, is ready to receive the other into itself and undertake a re-adjustment of its identity in light of the other's alterity.  (p. 110) 
But who can we forgive? Under what conditions? I remembered once reading this story about Corrie Ten Boom being confronted with a Nazi prison guard asking for forgiveness.

1 comment:

  1. I loved Exclusion and Embrace. I think he articulates something really important here. And yet I think you are asking the right questions at the end there. Forgiveness is always in some way a miracle of God.

    (I wrote an essay comparing Volf's theology of forgiveness with Barth's here, if you're interested: )