Nature and Importance of Forgiveness

Mark Amstutz

A Professor at Wheaton College

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: I think the reality of it is that when really egregious offenses occur, there is no way of bringing back the past, that's the reality. So we have to accept the second-, third-, fourth-best option.

Q: As a fundamental principle, it's never going to be enough.

A: It will never be enough. In other words, forgiveness always is, if somebody wrongs me and I forgive them and let them off the hook, it's a recognition that in my mind that that person has a shared humanity with me and that for my own health and wellbeing I'd better lift the burden of hatred, lest that hatred itself complicate the very injury that I'm carrying. If you don't let go, you don't heal, you don't forgive, you don't become reconciled, the original injury actually is exacerbated. You see this in the Middle East and wherever there are these intractable conflicts.