Now the theological traditions, both Christian and Jewish, have tended to behave like bankers when it comes to forgiveness. That is, they spell out the conditions under which forgiveness is possible, sible, typically four in number. Forgiveness requires an expression of sorrow, the intention to make amends, a promise not to repeat the offense, and a willingness to do penance. If someone meets all four conditions then they have earned forgiveness. We owe it to them the way the bank owes us the deed once the mortgage is paid off. A deal is a deal. But a deal is not a gift, and a gift is not a deal. Then what would it mean to forgive someone? It would have to mean something uneconomic-like a gift-something unconditional, something unaccountable, something mad. But the New Testament turns on just such unaccountables-like loving your enemies. If you love those who love you, what good is that? It makes perfect sense. Even the mafia does that. The unaccountable excess of love is felt when you love your enemies, when you love the unlovable-those whom it is unreasonable to love-which is the madness of the kingdom, which follows the nonprinciple of nonsufficient reason! Just so, the unaccountable excess of forgiveness ness is felt when we forgive precisely those who do not meet some or all of the four conditions, who are not sorry, do not repent, and do not intend to mend their ways. That is, genuine forgiveness is offered unconditionally, not subject to meeting any or all of these four conditions, exactly the way Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of the Roman soldiers. Just so, we often speak of things that are unforgivable-the Holocaust, say, or the atrocities of American slavery or of apartheid, or the several attempts at genocide we have witnessed in the past century. But would not such unforgivable things be the very subject matter of genuine forgiveness?

John D. Caputo. What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church (Kindle Locations 856-866). Kindle Edition.

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