If you hark back to the origins of this blog, you might discover one of the reasons for it was to keep people updated on the wonders of my project - thoughts and feelings on forgiveness, and so on. As we draw the project to a close, I feel it would only be fair to share my conclusions with you.
Forgiveness, then, is a good thing. Not only for your health, mental and physical, and for your relationships, but negates the need for retribution, and the potential cycle of violence. It allows you to move on with your life, and allows the offender to move on, as well.
What then, do we do with the Nazi officer who asks for forgiveness after being truly penitent for his sins? My conclusion is not to forgive him. I cannot forgive, and thus will not offer forgiveness to this man.
However, I shall assure him of his forgiveness. How can I say that, after denying him my forgiveness? The problem is that I cannot forgive something that is not done to me. Thus, I cannot forgive him. However, in the wrongs he committed, he offended God. And God has already forgiven him, in what Jesus did on the cross. His repentance is his acceptance that he is wrong, and needs that forgiveness. If you like, his repentance is his receiving the gift of forgiveness, proffered to him by God.
Thus, he is forgiven. Just not by me. And thus concludes a year long search in answer to that haunting question: 'What would you have done?' And yet, it's not the end. Oh, not by a long shot.