(LA Times) Edward Baptist—400 years of racist violence by white Americans is not so easy to forgive

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The victims' families are struggling with the private business of their own grief, using the language of Christian grace. This starts with the belief that God can forgive all sins. In turn, believers should try to do the same for the sake of their own souls and their own desire to live in harmony with God.

What too many whites seem to demand from these families' statements, however, isn't really grace. As the journalist Jamelle Bouie pointed out, people like Santorum insist on what the German theologian and anti-Nazi freedom fighter Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" β€” the "preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance" from those who have sinned. The forgiveness they want is so cheap that I can only call it "Wal-Mart grace": low-priced but shoddy, destructive of real community and built on exploitation.

Whatever faith you profess β€” or don't β€” grace isn't cheap. It's one thing for a survivor of trauma to tell a handcuffed and doomed perpetrator that you forgive him. It's another thing to forgive those who can still harm you. You don't do that without a good reason to believe that the person who harmed you has changed into someone who will not do so again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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