There has been a brisk debate about my post on What it means to forgive, and about Dave Warnock’s related post, including helpful responses by Chris Brauns whose post got both of us writing.
Thanks to PamBG for pointing me on her own blog to an article on forgiveness by Rev. Dr. Myron S. Augsburger. I agree with Pam that this article helps to clarify some of the issues we have been discussing. Here are some extracts, with my comments:
Forgiveness is not easy; it is hard … The cost of this resolution is to the innocent one, to the one doing the forgiving. In forgiving you resolve the problem within yourself, and you don’t even make the other feel it. That is never easy for us, nor is it easy for God.
So, forgiveness is mostly an issue for the one who forgives, and does not depend on any response from the one forgiven.
Peter writes that Christ bore our sins in his own body on the tree. (1 Pet 2:24) That is to say, Jesus literally absorbed into himself all of our sin, all of our hostility, all of our negativism toward God. … He literally experienced the intensity of our sin, and in doing so he could resolve his own wrath on sin and let us go free. There is justice in forgiveness because he did not dodge the issue. Nor can we, for we must actually enter into the problem; we must look sin squarely in the face and recognize it for what it is.
Note that Peter does not say that Christ bore the guilt of our sins. This is not the same thing, as Andrew has clarified.
When Paul says in Romans that God set forth Jesus as the expression of mercy (of propitiation, the mercy seat), on behalf of our sins, that he might be just in being the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus (3:23–26), he does not say that God justifies the one who apologizes for his mistakes. Rather, he justifies the one who believes in Jesus!
So justification does not depend on repentance in the sense of accepting forgiveness with an apology, but on faith.
I will leave it for you my readers to read the last part of the article, in which Augsburger puts forward his own model of the atonement. It is not precisely PSA. Nor is it incompatible with PSA. By recommending Augsburger’s model to you I am not rejecting PSA, but simply suggesting that in this particular context of forgiveness this model is a more helpful one.