Can Christians “Forgive Themselves”?

Last fall, just as I was putting my finishing touches on my book about regret, a friend sent me a link to this blog post. The author, Chad Bird, suggests that we are deluding ourselves when we talk about forgiving ourselves:

“For a time I believed such advice.  No more.  I know now that to ‘forgive yourself’ is not only impossible; it is foolish, dangerous, and futile.  It is the vain attempt of a soul plagued by guilt to seek relief in the very last place he should be looking: in himself.  Telling a friend, ‘forgive yourself,’ is the equivalent of telling a dying person, ‘heal yourself.’  Absolution, like medicine, comes from outside of you, from the hand of a healer.

“My problem was not that I knew that God had forgiven me, but that I hadn’t forgiven myself.  No, my problem was that I had never truly believed that God had forgiven me.  That was the issue.”

I admire Bird’s writing, and as I read his words, I wholeheartedly agreed with him. And I disagreed with him. [Read more]

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