Cuestiones innegociables

Hubo un tiempo en mi vida en el que prácticamente cualquier cuestión era innegociable. Estaba dispuesta a sacrificar incluso las relaciones más estrechas sobre el altar de mis convicciones. Una convicción bíblica – ni qué decir tiene – eclipsaba cualquier vínculo. Continue reading “Cuestiones innegociables”

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Hills Worth Dying On

I used to think practically ANY hill was one to die on, and when I say die, I’m barely hyperbolizing. Relationships died on those hills. As long as I thought a conviction was biblical, it trumped any tie. After all, who came first – people or God? Didn’t the Lord say that anyone who loved father, mother, son or daughter more than Him wasn’t worthy of Him? Continue reading “Hills Worth Dying On”

A High and Lonely Destiny

“Men like me” [said Uncle Andrew] “who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

As he said this he sighed and looked so grave and noble and mysterious that for a second Digory really thought he was saying something rather fine. But then he remembered the ugly look he had seen on his Uncle’s face the moment before Polly had vanished: and all at once he saw through Uncle Andrew’s grand words. “All it means,” he said to himself, “is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants.”

The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis

This is what comes to mind every time I hear people like Bill Gothard pontificating on “standing alone”. The High and Lonely Destiny Syndrome.magicians nephew

People often like to think they are standing alone to “glorify God” or “uphold righteousness”, when the truth is they’re standing alone because of their overbearing attitudes and ungraciousness, their commitment to mistaken standards, and their misguided refusal to associate with those who will be with them in eternity.

It’s a high and lonely destiny…

Cuando la misericordia y la verdad se reunen

Verdad y justicia, perdón y reconciliación.

Son valores centrales de la fe cristiana, pero confieso que a veces me cuesta entender cómo es posible que encajen sin anularse mutuamente. Son las situaciones de la vida real las que me desafían: el hombre que abandonó a su mujer para irse con su nuevo “verdadero amor”, pero que al complicarse las cosas, quiere volver con ella. El predicador que maltrató a su hijo durante toda su infancia pero que sigue en el ministerio. Los líderes que subyugaron y utilizaron a una joven, para luego excomulgarla. ¿Cómo es posible hacer honor a la verdad y la justicia, el perdón y la reconciliación en casos como éstos? Continue reading “Cuando la misericordia y la verdad se reunen”

When Truth and Mercy Meet

Truth and justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. These are core values of the Christian faith, but I have often struggled to understand how they can fit together without cancelling each other out. It’s the real-life situations that pose the riddles: the guy who deserted his wife for his new “true love” and, after falling on hard times, wants to get back together. The preacher who abused his son throughout childhood and remains in the ministry. The church leaders that bullied and exploited a young woman and then excommunicated her. How can truth, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation all be honored in cases like these?

We are supposed to forgive, no exceptions apparently. And we are supposed to be agents of reconciliation because our God is a God of reconciliation. But we are also supposed to be a truth-loving and truth-telling people. We are supposed to hunger and thirst for justice, fight for it even, weep for it before the Holy One. How is all this compatible?

mercy and truth2

I’d be lying if I said I had it all worked out. But recently I found a few things, two articles especially (linked below), that have helped me towards a better understanding.

I suppose I thought forgiveness was more or less releasing the offender from responsibility and not allowing myself any more negative feelings towards them. This, however, left truth and justice completely out of the equation and was deeply unsatisfying.

The first thing to understand about forgiveness, I learned, is that it does not erase the offender’s responsibility nor the consequences of his actions. It is an attitude of the heart. It can exist even if the offender is unrepentant, and even if closure has not yet been reached.

Forgiveness is a process of releasing anger and vengeance to avoid the deadly onset of bitterness and darkness. And, it is the positive desire for good and not evil to befall the offender, that they might get the help they need and not be abandoned to darkness themselves.[1]

Or, in Desmond Tutu’s words, “In the act of forgiveness, we are declaring our faith in the future of a relationship and in the capacity of the wrongdoer to change. We are welcoming a chance to make a new beginning.”

Reconciliation – on the other hand – can only happen when the offender commits to facing the truth and taking responsibility for his actions. It cannot happen on the basis of the victim’s forgiveness alone; it requires specific steps to be taken by the offender.

True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the pain, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking, but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.[2]

Truth and justice cannot be brushed aside in the pursuit of reconciliation because they are an integral part of it. “In the justly famous phrase of Miroslav Volf, there must be ‘exclusion’ before there can be ’embrace’: evil must be identified, named, and dealt with before there can be reconciliation. And – this is of course the crunch – where those who have acted wickedly refuse to see the point, there can be no reconciliation, no embrace.”[3]

Very recently someone met this challenge in a powerful way. At great personal cost, Rachael Denhollander illustrated what it looks like when mercy and truth meet, and righteousness and peace embrace. She could do this, of course, because she herself had previously faced truth and received mercy, righteousness and peace at the Cross.

May God bring us to love mercy and truth enough to be – as N. T. Wright put it – “justified justice-bringers, reconciled reconcilers” in all our dealings.

[1] Zach Hoag,http://www.christianweek.org/3-characteristics-authentic-forgiveness/
[2] Desmond Tutu, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/truth_and_reconciliation#gsc.tab=0
[3] N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, p. 179