Flashcards in Forgiveness and Reconciliation Deck (15):
What is forgiveness?
Moving on after someone has apologised/explained their behaviour that has caused you or someone you care about harm.
What is reconciliation?
The restoring of relationships between former enemies and the creation of trust and understanding between them.
What is justice?
- The fair and equal treatment of all people within a society
- Plato has 3 definitions of justice:
1) Give everybody what belongs to them - this suggests property is important, in line with the Ten Commandments ("Do not covet your neighbour's possessions). The problem: would you give a madman his knife back?
2) Justice is a metaphysical concept - there are certain things that are right. We need to try and find them but we never can - God is the source of all goodness.
3) God is what authorities can enforce - what is law is what is right or wrong. This suggests justice is not universal - it changes over time and depending on where you are.
Why is forgiveness important for Christians?
- Jesus teaches forgiveness
- The Lord's Prayer teaches that Christians must forgive others in order to be forgiven by God: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us"
- In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, a servant who owes his master money is forgiven and his debt is cancelled. However, when this servant meets another servant who owes him money, he does not show him mercy. This causes the master to punish the servant. Jesus says God will punish people who do not forgive others.
- Jesus tells Christians not to avenge themselves, but to leave it to God
Why is reconciliation important for Christians?
- Reconciliation is a sacrament for Catholics: they confess their sins to a priest and they are given absolution. This frees them from their guilt and restores their relationship with God.
- Many Christians believe that reconciliation between humans and God allows them to treat others with more compassion
- Reconciliation between enemies allows Christians to follow one of the two great commandments: "love your neighbour"
- Working for reconciliation increases the chances of peace, e.g. in Northern Ireland, better relations between Catholics and Protestants reduces the chance of armed conflict
Why is justice important for Christians?
- Justice is central to the nature of God (Psalm 97:2)
- Christians believe God to be the perfect example of justice so by doing justice they are being like God. Matthew, Mark, and Luke's gospels show an idea of being judged by God.
- Teachings on God's justice affect Christian views on crime, punishment, violence, war, and acts of social injustice
- Justice is very important to God - e.g. in the book of Amos God is disgusted by religious behaviour in the absence of justice (Amos 5:21)
When might forgiveness be impossible?
- If the wrongdoer is unrepentant
- If the wrongdoer died before repenting
- Some believe only the victim can give forgiveness: if the victim is dead, they cannot forgive. Ultimately God is the one with the power to forgive, and no-one can speak for God. However, Catholics might disagree with this as they believe priests can speak for God.
What is the relationship between peace and a just society?
- A just society gives fewer reasons for conflict
- A just society that does not discriminate gives minority groups less cause for terrorism
- In a just society, crime is punished appropriately, meaning people trust the law and do not feel the need to take the law into their own hands
- For this reason, many Christians work for social justice
What is social justice?
Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within society
What is social injustice?
Discrimination resulting in unequal wealth, opportunities, and privileges.
Why might different Christians have different attitudes to equality?
There are two interpretations of equality in society:
- Protestants believe in equality by outcome: setting up a system where everybody could reach the top if they wanted to (Calvinism and capitalism)
- Catholics and Evangelicals believe in interfering to create equality: positive discrimination; quotas to get equality outcomes (anti-Calvinist).
How do Christians view social injustice?
- Christians believe in the equality of all humans, so do not accept that any human should have fewer rights than another
- For this reason they aim to achieve social justice for all people
How do Christians work for social justice?
- Protesting, e.g. Martin Luther King Jr protested peacefully against discrimination of people based on their skin colour
- Volunteering, e.g. Mother Teresa served the poor in the slums of India. Many Christians volunteer to help the poor or oppressed, and many charities are or started out as Christian: The Salvation Army, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Amnesty International.
- Politics/violence, e.g. Liberation Theologians
What is Liberation Theology?
- The idea that if Jesus were alive today, he would be a revolutionary
- There is black liberation (part of the civil rights movement), women's liberation (part of the feminist movement), and Latin liberation - Latin liberation theologians sometimes get involved in violence.
- This is because their main belief is the emancipation of the oppressed. Their goal is social justice, even if they have to use violence to achieve it.
- E.g. the Latin Liberation Theologians were actively involved in the war against the right-wing government in Nicaragua. The rebels won, and 3 liberationist priests became members of the cabinet. John Paul II, who was Pope at the time, disapproved of them.
- Archbishop Oscar Romero was head of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador, where most of the population was oppressed by a rich minority. He spoke out against this injustice and was assassinated.