Forgiving Oneself & Forgiving God

Solomon Schimmel

in Wounds Not Healed By Time

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195128413
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834648 | DOI:
Forgiving Oneself & Forgiving God

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This chapter analyzes two special cases of forgiveness, forgiving oneself and forgiving God, from logical, moral, and psychological perspectives. The author presents arguments that have been put forward in favor of and in opposition to encouraging people who have wronged others, and who experience guilt for having done so, to forgive themselves. The author finds the arguments against self‐forgiveness to be more compelling than those in favor of it, except where the wrongdoer's sense of guilt is out of proportion to the injuries he caused, or when he has sincerely repented and done what is within his capacity to make reparation for or rectify the harm he caused, and is hence entitled to be forgiven.

With respect to forgiving God, when an individual is angry at God for what appears to be unjustified suffering he or she has experienced, the author distinguishes between abstract conceptions of God, as transcendent, just, benevolent, omnipotent, and often inscrutable, which would make anger at God and forgiving him conceptually meaningless, and the phenomenology of experiencing God as immanent, and as a personality with emotions and with whom one can have a personal relationship, in which case anger at God and forgiving him are psychologically understandable and meaningful emotional reactions, even though they are not necessarily logically tenable.

Keywords: anger; emotional; God; guilt; immanent; psychological; repentance; self‐forgiveness; theodicy; transcendent

Chapter.  8731 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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