Forgiving God

“I think everyone has a secret resentment against God, against our very creation, against the fact of our being what we are. Freud called this the death wish, resentment against being born into this pain-full world.”

Peter Kreeft says something surprising in Back to Virtue:  that we need to learn to forgive God. He is quite clear that this is not for any evil or debt he owes us, but for His goodness. As Kreeft says in his book, God loves us more than we would like, and we need to forgive him for interfering with our foolish will again and again”. We need to “forgive him for his blessed but painful surgery on our spirits.”

At first, I thought Kreeft was wrong. Forgive God? Why would we lowly creatures need to forgive God, who is infinite goodness? How absurd! Then, giving the great Peter Kreeft the benefit of the doubt, I thought it over and had a realization of sorts. We need to forgive God lest we hold a grudge against Him. God calls us out of ourselves. He asks us to give up ourselves and our particular desires, and this can be very difficult, even aggravating. Our broken nature rebels against God’s will. We must say with Jesus, “not my will Father, but yours be done,” but we do not want to. We often say, leave me alone to what I want! Christians say this even when they know this is foolishness. We are broken and part of our brokenness is a wrong-relationship with God: we blame him when he is not at fault. Our hearts must be at peace with God. And our hearts, misshapen as they are, cannot be at peace with God unless we forgive him. How ridiculous we are!

4 Responses to Forgiving God

  1. Tim Shipe says:

    Thanks for this- this has been my Kreeft summer as I have read 5 of his short books and been very blessed and inspired with each one. I am hoping to get some of the parents of my students into a book club sort of thing – with Jesus Shock as the first read- if you haven’t read that one yet I highly recommend it- God Bless

  2. Zach says:

    Oh you’re welcome!

    I love Peter Kreeft. I have read Jesus Shock and I think it’s probably his best work.

  3. Bill Donaghy says:

    Thank you! I love Dr. Kreeft as well; always a fresh and unique perspective on ancient things. FYI if you didn’t know, you can download nearly 2 dozen talks of his on iTunes! The podcast section. One of his talks is only 18 minutes, called Identity. Amazing insights!!

  4. Ferdie says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I guess the concept of “forgiving God” is unsettling in the sense that forgiveness is usually given to someone who has offended another. Jesus uses the word in the Our Father in reference to others debts or trespasses. So we cannot imagine God to owe us anything, or that He has trespassed against us (inasmuch as we belong to Him and He can pretty much what He pleases with us).

    But when I check the more contemporary definition of “forgive”, it now means more of giving up anger or resentment against someone. And it is definitely possible to feel resentment or anger against God.

    I guess the less unsettling word which we can use is “surrendering” to God, giving Him full reign in our lives, knowing that He has come to give us life to the full (John 10:10).

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