Does God only forgive the repentant?

Originally Posted by OneSheep forums.catholic.com/images/buttons_khaki/viewpost.gif
There is no support in the CCC or elsewhere that Jesus was asking The Father to only forgive the repentant, Granny.

Surely, you are mistaken, whether inadvertently or deliberately? There is support all throughout Catholicism, scripture, and the CCC. I often find such debates to be fruitless, but I am concerned that false teachings here may totally destroy another’s faith.

If it were true that all are forgiven unilaterally, then why do we have Jesus’s direction to the apostles, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain, are retained.”

The CCC speaks about imperfect and perfect contrition, the latter being salvific without the sacrament of penance, should one die in that state… It would appear that you do not believe either type of contrition is necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

And throughout scripture, we find examples of damnation in parables such as the sheep and the goats. If all of the goats are automatically forgiven, how can God damn them?

In Luke 17:3, Jesus tells us very clearly that we are to forgive someone who sins against us IF he repents.

I have never seen such nonsense and distortion of the teachings of our faith. May God correct your misinformation.

Hello, Sirach. Actually, I have seen no support for saying my statement is in error, which was much more specific in context. Jesus said from the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” and there is nothing in the CCC that I have ever found asserting that Jesus was only speaking to the repentant.

To me, the repentant (if there were any) among those who hung Jesus would have realized their error, so they indeed knew what they were doing. Why would Jesus’ words refer to them? Do you believe that St. Stephen also only forgave the repentant at the time they were stoning him to death? My Bible refers to the stoning of St. Stephen from Luke 23:34, the forgiveness-from-the-cross quote.

I often find such debates to be fruitless,

Me too, Sirach! Exactly. The debate is fruitless because it all depends upon one’s relationship with God, our perception of Who He is. If you look carefully at my words, I am not asking Granny to change to my point of view, and I am not asking you either. If you think that Jesus was only referring to the repentant, go right ahead! It makes sense to you that way. I am requesting that Granny make room in her idea of “Catholic” for differences of opinion on the issue. I request the same of you, Sirach. If you do not do so, I will not hold it against you. People who see the Gospel the way you see it will still fall well within what I see as Catholic, indeed, faith-filled members.

but I am concerned that false teachings here may totally destroy another’s faith

You are worried that a person thinking that they do not need to repent is going to be a problem for a person’s faith. I agree with you. The need to repent is vital in terms of cause-and-effect. For example, if an alcoholic does not repent from drink, his existence is at a very desperate level, he is enslaved by his appetites. This is certainly self-destructive. I agree.

If it were true that all are forgiven unilaterally, then why do we have Jesus’s direction to the apostles, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain, are retained.”

Very good question. I brought up this question on another thread. The gospel has some conflicting statements, and I will show one below. On this question, however, the best I have been able to figure out is that in context, the verse is talking about conflicts between individuals and settled by the Church, meaning the hierarchy or elders. In this case, forgiveness is used in terms of acquittal vs conviction, not “forgiveness from the heart” which Jesus calls us to do. Jesus calls us to forgive everyone we hold something against, whether we convict or acquit, but someone has to determine such, and this was the way it was done back then. Generally speaking, Church members now support the govt courts(with some very important exceptions:))

The CCC speaks about imperfect and perfect contrition, the latter being salvific without the sacrament of penance, should one die in that state… It would appear that you do not believe either type of contrition is necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

And throughout scripture, we find examples of damnation in parables such as the sheep and the goats. If all of the goats are automatically forgiven, how can God damn them?

All of these apparent conflicts make sense in terms of seeing God-as-conscience vs God-underlying-conscience. If a person equates God with their conscience, damnation of people, purposeful pushing away by God, makes perfect sense. On the other hand, if a person sees that God underlies the conscience with unconditional forgiveness, then the scripture makes sense in a different way. Can you make room in your idea of “Catholic” for a different way of looking at things, or is the spirituality you learned the only one acceptable to you? Either answer will be okay to me. You are in my idea of Church, even if I am not in your idea of Church. Stay with me as Roman Catholic, we can grow together. I am quite certain I have more to learn. You?

In Luke 17:3, Jesus tells us very clearly that we are to forgive someone who sins against us IF he repents.

Yes, it does say that there! He also “very clearly” says this:

Mark 11:25

New International Version (NIV)

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”.

Do you see what I’m saying here? Sometimes Jesus gives us a bit of a mixed message. To me, it is genius. If a person sees God-as-conscience, which has its place in all of our spiritual development, he can stay with Luke 17:3 for now. If a person comes to a point in relationship where they have forgiven everyone, including himself, and is reconciled with Abba, then the unconditional forgiveness of the verse in Mark makes more sense.

Jesus calls us to forgive everyone we hold something against. It is much, much more difficult to forgive a person who is unrepentant. If you have not done so, though, give it a try, it is worth it! It is a very freeing act. Nothing in our faith prohibits you from doing so.

(cont’d)

Where did I say Jesus was forgiving *only the repentant? *

Do you believe that St. Stephen also only forgave the repentant at the time they were stoning him to death?

Again, where did I say that St. Stephen* forgave only the repentant? *

I am not asking Granny to change to my point of view, and I am not asking you either. If you think that Jesus was only referring to the repentant, go right ahead!

Third time. I see. If you say it often enough, maybe I will believe your words. Again, that is not what I said anywhere. If you want to discuss this, it is critical to stay with what I wrote, not what you are trying to paint.

Read my words again, please.

Jesus gave us living example of letting go of injuries done to us by our persecutors, in the same manner as St. Stephen did (our first martyr). What we cannot do is apply Jesus’ words to the idea that God will justify and forgive all men, no matter whether they are repentant or not. Romans 12:19, “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay.”

We release them to God’s judgment and free our hearts from bitterness and anger, none of which were in the pure heart of Christ.

His request asking that the Father forgive them, does not mean that there was no ultimate punishment or judgment by God towards those who knew what they were doing … with malice

Will you clearly state what you believe?
Does **God **forgive the unrepentant? Is this what you believe the Church teaches?

Is this the connect you are striving to make, using Jesus’ words on the cross, that God also forgives anybody and everybody, whether or not they repent?

OneSheep,
If you truly hold to the teachings of our Catholic faith, you would profess and believe these tenets of the Catechism:

**1989 **The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

Um, conflicting statements? Are you truly familiar with Catholic teaching on the sacrament of Penance? This directive Jesus bestowed on the Apostles was not simply to solve conflicting statements among the elders or hierarchy. Read, please, from the Catechism.

[size=4]Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?[/size]
Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ providing a means for those who fall into sin after Baptism to be restored into God’s grace. It involves the admission of one’s sins made to a duly approved Priest in order to obtain absolution.
Confession is called the “sacrament of Penance” as:
the recipient must be truly repentant of his sins,
…be determined to try to avoid this sin in the future, and
…be willing to make reparations as appropriate with any/all injured parties.

**Only God can forgive sin. **The sacrament of Penance is the way which God has chosen to administer that forgiveness. Jesus exercised the power to forgive sins “that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mt 8:6). And Jesus to the Apostles in Jn 20:21-23 reads: “… As the Father has sent Me, so I send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins ****you retain are retained.” Note that this power bestowed upon the Apostles is different than the power previously given Peter of binding and loosing, which is the broad power in matters of faith and morals; this power is specific to sin. Knowing that the Apostles, mere men, were incapable of handling such a responsibility on their own power, Jesus Christ gave them a special communication with the Holy Spirit (pneuma) for this special work. In all of the Bible, there are only two instances where God breathed on man, the other was when He gave man a living soul in Gen 2:7 - thus emphasizing the importance of the sacrament of Penance.

**The Apostles certainly understood what Jesus Christ had commissioned them to do. **[FONT=Arial]Paul, in the name of Jesus, exercised the power of binding and loosing from sin and the effects of sin in the case of the incestuous Corinthian. In 1 Cor 3, Paul says: “I have already judged him that hath done so”; and in 2 Cor 2:10, Paul justifies his forgiveness of the repentant man by saying “If I have pardoned anything, I have done it in the person of Christ”. Further, in 2 Cor 5:18, Paul writes: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”. And in 2 Cor 5:20, Paul confirms “So we are ambassadors for Christ.”
[/FONT][/FONT][FONT=Cambria]http://www.scborromeo.org/papers/confess.pdf#search=forgiveness

I read your words again, now I ask that you read mine. You cut into a discussion I was having with Granny, where I was saying Jesus forgave the unrepentant, and you contested my position. Now it sounds like you are agreeing with my position, so I am confused:confused:. Please look at post 123.

Will you clearly state what you believe?
Does **God **forgive the unrepentant? Is this what you believe the Church teaches?

God as I know Him, the prodigal son’s father, waits with open arms. The forgiveness-from-the-heart has already happened. God allows us to choose rejection, though.

Is this the connect you are striving to make, using Jesus’ words on the cross, that God also forgives anybody and everybody, whether or not they repent?

I am saying that it makes sense in terms of my own spirituality. I forgive everyone I hold something against whether or not they repent. I cannot fathom a God who would withhold forgiveness where I would not.

You see, from your perspective my position is nonsense, but my perspective makes sense to me.

The Church taught me to love and forgive unconditionally. Did the Church teach this to you also?

Thanks for the reply, but I believe that you misunderstood my post.

We are all empowered to forgive those who trespass against us, and to forgive those we hold anything against. The CCC does not contest this, and I don’t believe you do either.

  • Thanks for the reply, but I believe that you misunderstood my post.

We are all empowered to forgive those who trespass against us, and to forgive those we hold anything against. The CCC does not contest this, and I don’t believe you do either.
[/quote]

No, I did not misunderstand, and you are deflecting and evading the issue again.
You argued that when Jesus commissioned the apostles with power to “bind and loose”, it simply meant that the power was only to solve conflicting statements among the elders or hierarchy. That is NOT church teaching.

So I ask again, do you believe the apostles and their successors have the power to bind and loose sins in the Sacrament of Penance, and that this power was not limited to merely solving difficulties among the hierarchy?

If you concur that this power extends to the Sacrament, then it is permissible to withhold absolution from the unrepentant, and it was given to them by God through Jesus.

It appears time for me to withdraw from this thread.
God bless!

I would think that God would forgive those who ‘sinned,’ but not repentant, if the ‘sin’ was committed without free will, such as being under the strong spell of Satan. I believe this kind of forgiveness is common in today’s world.

LOVE! :heart:

I think that God would forgive someone even if they didn’t repent. There is many people who are ignornant of our teachings, or in some sort of situation in their life which is difficult for them to see what they do is a sin.
God being the one and only deity that can do anything could be seen in this light, I think it can be us humans who fail on the forgiveness.

Christ asking his father to forgive the people in the crowd that mocked him, and cried out for his murder, was because he knew they didn’t know what they were doing. They thought they were right to kill a person who claimed to be God. Christ knew this.

Were they forgiven by the father? Some would say yes, others no.

May I request that when one posts the word sin, that there will be some way of identifying the sin as either venial sin or mortal sin. Also, all three conditions for a sin to be Mortal must be present.

Mortal Sin destroys the divine life in the soul of the sinner, that is, the person’s State of Sanctifying Grace is replaced by the State of Mortal Sin.

We need to remember that God’s forgiveness of Mortal Sin is not the same as our forgiveness when someone commits a Mortal Sin against us. We need to remember that we humans do not have the power to remove the State of Mortal Sin from a person and then restore the State of Sanctifying Grace to that person. Even when we forgive someone 7 times 70 for their Mortal Sins, we cannot give the repentant or the unrepentant the State of Sanctifying Grace.

When one looks honestly at Mortal Sin, one realizes that God’s forgiveness is the removal of one’s State of Mortal Sin, bringing that person into union with Himself aka the State of Sanctifying Grace.

Information Sources: CCC, Glossary, Mortal Sin, page 889; CCC, 1854-1863; CCC, Glossary, Sanctifying Grace, page 898; CCC, 1997-2000.

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PAB.HTM

2840 Now - and this is daunting - this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see.136 In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love;…

2845 There is no limit or measure to this essentially divine forgiveness,…

Pardon me. It sounds like you are comparing God to yourself … and you come out on top because you forgive people’s mortal sins whether or not they repent. I am curious about how one feels when one forgives mortal sins better than God. :confused:

:thumbsup:

Yes, that would be confusing without a bit more explanation. God is infinitely more loving and forgiving than I am, and that is an item of my faith. Since God is infinitely more loving and forgiving than I am, and I forgive the unrepentant I held something against, then it is only logical that God does more and faster.

Once I forgave, I knew that God forgave long before I did. It was very humbling, the whole experience. It is humbling to forgive the unrepentant or anyone else, for that matter, and very humbling to get an inkling, a tiny smidgen, of knowing God’s love.

It is something like touching God’s little toe, if I may anthropomorphize a bit.

Did you not tell me, Granny, that you also forgive the unrepentant? And did you not also say that God does not? Therefore, Granny is more forgiving than God. I know you do not think this, though. Please, clarify for me Granny.

And while we are at it, it sounds like Sirach agrees that from the cross Jesus forgave the unrepentant . So, would you say, now, that there is room for these differing opinions in our Great Church? If you, Granny, were the only person in the Church who thought that Jesus only forgave the repentant from the cross, I would still say that there is room for your viewpoint in our Great Church.

Here is what I wrote:

“the verse is talking about conflicts between individuals and settled by the Church, meaning the hierarchy or elders.”

I see what you mean. There is a good possibility of a misread. Oops. The “meaning the hierarchy or others” was the “Church”, not the individual with the conflict. It is possible, though, that the hierarchy might have a conflict to be settled by others of the hierarchy.

Here is the verse in context:

Matt 18:15-19
Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister** sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.**

In this context, it sounds like Jesus is referring to people dealing with fellow sinners. On the other hand, this is probably one of those very controversial passages, because Jesus is referring to a “Church” that has yet to exist. Jesus came to save Jewish people, even though His ministry went much further. He went to a synagogue, not a Church, and there was not a Church in existence yet. Did Jesus say something that everyone present simply did not understand? This is a job for scripture scholars, and I am not one.

Here is the quandary for the Church. Jesus asks us to forgive anyone we hold something against. If the Church forgives anyone they hold something against, including the unrepentant, then why would they (we) withhold absolution? The hierarchy has been given such permission, but under what circumstances would they withhold it? When people sin, they do not know what they are doing, period. I have yet to find a counterexample, Sirach. That is the dilemma I see. I do see some merit in the Church withholding absolution as a motivator for people to repent, and the price of the misrepresentation of unconditional love is worth it when people are drowning in sin.

Shoot. Am I evading again? My answer: It is a very complex issue. I tend to lean away from the idea of the Church condemning anyone. I do not condemn anyone, and if I was Pope, I still wouldn’t, at least not on purpose.

May I ask how did the Apostles give the power of the holy spirit for the forgiveness of sins to other men?
If Jesus breathed onto the Apostles giving them the power only to be able to forgive as Jesus would forgive, I don’t know how they could pass that over to the next?

*Note that this power bestowed upon the Apostles is different than the power previously given Peter of binding and loosing, which is the broad power in matters of faith and morals; this power is specific to sin. Knowing that the Apostles, mere men, were incapable of handling such a responsibility on their own power, Jesus Christ gave them a special communication with the Holy Spirit (pneuma) for this special work. In all of the Bible, there are only two instances where God breathed on man, the other was when He gave man a living soul in Gen 2:7 - thus emphasizing the importance of the sacrament of Penance. *

The Catholic Church has the full Seven Sacraments including the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

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