Deb has asked a good question over at her blog, This Fleeting Moment:
Can there be forgiveness without repentance?
Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will remember I reviewed one of my favourite Christian books, Unpacking Forgiveness last year. It deals with this very issue.
Then, lo and behold, I was reading a devotional book called By God's Word: Volume 1 on the weekend and this leaped out at me. How timely:
Reconciliation is a wonderful thing. Reconciliation is peacemaking - bringing an end to conflict, and renewing friendship between alienated parties. There is nothing to be said against reconciliation.
Yet reconciliation is a difficult thing. It involves the execution of justice, the presence of real repentance and the genuine offering of forgiveness. Often in our desire for reconciliation we seek to take the shortcut of forgiveness without justice or repentance.
On minor issues, the omission of justice and repentance do not matter. It is important not to turn the proverbial molehill into a mountain: if somebody steps on your toe in a crowded bus, it does not require justice, repentance, or even an apology for you to ignore the offence. When people take offence over slight and unimportant issues, they are in the wrong. They have lost perspective and forgotten their own sinfulness. They have forgotten the kindness of God in forgiving them......
....However, on major issues, the omission of justice and repentance matters. We cannot just step over the offence and ignore its consequences. To ignore injustice is to be unjust. The damage that has been done has to be paid for by somebody. There is no reason why the victim should be the person who pays; the guilty should pay....
....God is the great reconciler. Christ is the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). But God's peacemaking was not wrought through cheap and easy apologies that ignored the reality of sin, the requirements of justice or the need for changed hearts. His reconciliation came by the death of His own Son - the Word who "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).
- Phillip D. Jensen in his book, By God's Word: Volume 1, pages 146-48