Three to be precise.
The first has to do with what I have called "psychological atonement" which is a misnomer as there is no atonement involved at all. What there is is people urging us to forgive because it's good for us to do so. And the thing that makes this so compelling is that it is unquestionably true in some way. What exactly that way is is the question.
First, though, what is wrong with this? Well, I think it is that it focuses on the feelings and not the facts. It is not good for me to go through my life feeling aggrieved and so forgiving will help me get over that. But our feelings have to have, to borrow from Eliot, an "objective correlative".
If you've ever had someone tell you that they "forgive" you for something you believed to be entirely justified on your part you will know what I mean. It matters that there is actual evidence of a wrong beyond my feelings.
The second thing I think we need to be clear about is what forgiveness actually means. One thing that Rick Warren got right (yes, that Rick Warren) is that forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to trust them again. If you lend money and I can't repay it and come and ask you to forgive me, you should forgive me. You do not have to ever lend me money again.
To put it another way, forgiving me does not oblige anyone to enter into a relationship with me. Mike may forgive his girlfriend Alex for her cheating on him but he is not obliged to continue his relationship with her. There is nothing contradictory about him saying, "Yes, I forgive you and by the way, I'm leaving you."
Finally, while we can and should forgive people who do not ask for forgiveness our forgiving is only part of the equation. The obvious example here is, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." But that forgiveness depends on our recognizing what we did, understanding it and asking forgiveness. Jesus died for our sins but that only makes a difference if we accept that he did.
Other hanging threads tomorrow.