Friday, December 13, 2019

Forgiveness of sins

It is very plausible that God can forgive wrongs we do to him. But a very difficult question which is rarely discussed by philosophers of religion is how God can forgive wrongs done to beings other than God.

This puzle seems to me to be related to the mystery of the line: “Against you [God], you alone, have I sinned” in Psalm 51:4, a line that seems on its face to contradict the obvious fact that the sins in question (David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah) seem to be primarily against human beings. Perhaps also related is Jesus’s puzzling statement: “No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18).

I think the answer to all of these questions may lie in a metaphysics and axiology of participation on which all the value of creatures is value had by participation in God, so that only God is good in the primary sense and only God is sinned against in the primary sense, which in turn gives God the normative power to forgive all wrongs, including wrongs directly against God as such as well as wrongs against God’s goodness as participated in by creatures.


Millan George said...

Rather late but still, how would one attempt to reconcile Psalm 51:4 with the words of Jesus in the Lord's Prayer ("forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us")?

Michael Gonzalez said...

Well, some translations say "you, above all", since that is the contextual sense. But, even if translated "only you" or "you alone", the point is clearly that the sin against God has highest importance. A similar expression was made by Joseph when resisting the same sin with Potiphar's wife. Obviously, it would be a sin against Potiphar as well (whom Joseph had just mentioned), but Joseph still only said "How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?".