What does it take to forgive someone like Dylann Roof? (COMMENTARY)

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Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21, into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, on June 18, 2015.   Roof, a 21-year-old with a criminal record, is accused of killing nine people at a Bible-study meeting in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in an attack U.S. officials are investigating as a hate crime.  REUTERS/Jason Miczek
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WAX-COMMENTARY, originally transmitted on June 19, 2015.

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21, into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, on June 18, 2015. Roof, a 21-year-old with a criminal record, is accused of killing nine people at a Bible-study meeting in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in an attack U.S. officials are investigating as a hate crime. REUTERS/Jason Miczek *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WAX-COMMENTARY, originally transmitted on June 19, 2015.

(RNS) Nadine Collier, daughter of one of Dylann Roof’s nine alleged victims, has one message for the suspected killer: “I forgive you.” The 21-year-old Roof is charged with the violent slaying that occurred at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

At Roof’s bond hearing, Chief Magistrate James Gosnell allowed Collier to deliver a statement to the suspect who joined via videoconference: “I just want everybody to know, to you, I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again, I will never be able to hold her again. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you, and I forgive you.” Roof watches and offers only a chilling blank stare.

What does it take to forgive someone like Dylann Roof? How does one muster the courage, the conviction, the moral fiber to grant such a gift to someone who has already taken so much? To serve a feast of forgiveness to a person who hasn’t even ordered a single serving?

The story of Collier’s astounding forgiveness reminds me of another ancient one. Baking in the sun, an innocent Nazarene named Jesus hangs from a Roman cross. He’s losing blood at a rapid rate. His weeping mother is crumpled at his feet, adding emotional agony to his unbearable physical torment. Jesus opens his mouth to speak, but what will he say? Will he curse his executioners or cry out against those complicit in the broken trial that landed him there in the first place?

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” Jesus says.

This single statement spawns a list of questions. For one, who is Jesus referring to? The Roman soldiers who were gambling for his tunic, trying to block out the horror of what was unfolding over their heads? Pilate, who gave the execution order even though he seemed to know better? The religious authorities that did what religious authorities do best — crush any dissenter who threatens the status quo? These all seem possible, but Jesus could have also been referring to his closest friends who tucked tail and deserted him the moment the trouble started. I like to think he was asking God to forgive them too.

Another question: What does Jesus mean when he says that “they know not” what they are doing? It seems that most of the possible recipients of this forgiveness have at least an inkling that something was off about this whole ordeal. The Romans had to know that innocents often died at their hands or at least that guilty people often received a punishment that far exceeded their crimes. The religious leaders certainly knew better. And what of Jesus’ friends? He had offered them so many warnings that this moment would come that they were beginning to grow annoyed with the redundancy.

And why does Jesus ask his father to forgive them? Why doesn’t he just say, “I forgive”? Is he resigning himself passive participation in the process, or is he expressing that their sins were ultimately against God? As with the other questions, it is difficult to say based on the limited information we have about the event.

Even if we could resolve such questions, we’d still be left with a giant, “So what?” How does this story apply to us today, if at all? I’m not Son of God, and neither are you. If you’re like me, you find it far easier to cry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” than “Father, forgive them.” I can own my sense of rejection. I can pray it without crossing my fingers or toes. But forgiving is another matter. Owning victimhood is easier than offering forgiveness. And there is no foolproof 12-step program to move one from “why have you forsaken” to “forgive them” after a tragedy like Charleston.

I can speculate about the answers to these questions. I like to think that Jesus was bundling all the guilty parties together and offering a “Father, forgive” on all their behalf. I like to think that when Jesus says “they know not,” he is ignoring the evidence and giving them the benefit of the doubt instead. That Jesus is saying even if they know exactly what they are doing, he’ll grant them forgiveness as if they don’t. I like to think that Jesus asked God to forgive them because in that moment, it wasn’t something he could say himself. Maybe Jesus is saying that when we can’t seem to muster the strength to forgive on our own, we can let God forgive people through us.

These are my ruminations, but the gospel writers don’t seem all that concerned with answering these questions. And maybe that’s the point. Perhaps the story teaches that forgiveness is possible in the midst of pressing questions and in the absence of answers. Maybe the point is that forgiveness transcends logic and reason, that it doesn’t always make sense.

Forgiving someone who has done something unforgivable is difficult, and I’m not sure exactly how it works. But I know it is possible. Because Jesus has done it: “Father, forgive them.” And because Nadine Collier has too: “You hurt me… but I forgive you.”

DG/LM END MERRITT

  • Greg

    It’s not actually possible to “understand” the scriptures, simply because they don’t make any sense to begin with, and the content of them contradicts itself. The on-again off-again omnipotence and omni-benevolence is fun to tweak Christian noses about though, as is the claimed sacrifice by a “god”.

  • Greg

    Bob, it’s not actually possible to “understand” the scriptures, simply because they don’t make any sense to begin with, and the content of them contradicts itself. The on-again off-again omnipotence and omni-benevolence is fun to tweak Christian noses about though, as is the claimed sacrifice by a “god”. Christianity is actually all fiction and fantasy.

  • The Great God Pan

    “Forgiveness” is a pretty nebulous concept, really. What does it even mean for the daughter of a victim to “forgive” Roof? I assume that she isn’t asking for the charges to be dropped, so what is this “forgiveness” actually worth? What makes it a “gift?” What is the tangible difference between a “forgiven” Roof and an “unforgiven” Roof?

  • Larry

    Its easy to claim forgiveness to someone while still expecting them to be punished for their acts.

    Its a nice gesture for the public, but he is still being tried and will probably be: executed, committed to an asylum for life or life in prison without parole. The victims’ families are not asking to change that outcome whether they allegedly forgive him or not.

  • Forgiveness!?
    Why cherry pick the wrong answer??

    GOD OFFERS NO MORALITY. HE SIMPLY APPROVES ALL THE OPTIONS!

    “God told me to ________________ .” (pick any of the below!)

    “Kill them” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
    “Avoid them” – (Romans 16:17)
    “Shun them” – (1 Cor. 5:11)
    “Forgive them” – Jesus (Luke 24:34)
    “Hate THEM” – Jesus (Luke 14:26)
    “Let ME kill them” – Jesus (Rev. 2:23)
    “Remove him” – (1 Cor. 1:13)
    “Curse HIM” – (1 Cor. 16:22)
    “LOVE THEM if they are Jewish” – JESUS (Matt. 10:5-6)
    “IGNORE THEM IF they are NOT JEWISH” – JESUS (Matthew 10:5-6)
    “CONDEMN HIM” – Jesus (Mark 16:16)

    Atheists cut out the do-nothing middle man.
    We take personal responsibility for our choices.

    But religious people pretend God instructed them.
    It is easier to pretend an imaginary god is deciding for you
    than to think clearly and to act responsibly.

  • Be Brave

    Larry,

    “Allegedly forgive?”

    Why can’t you refrain from denigrating Christians? You darkened soul must be able to find so other place to breathe out the hatred and vitriol that makes you feel so validated.

    Why not cruise so new mother sites and bash away at their babies? Go to some puppy and kitten sites and denigrate cuteness?

    Dude, your hate is pitiful to watch displayed as if it was some sort of sadistic act you need to play out.

    I forgive you.

    Now go away.

  • Be Brave

    Oh the darkened mind chimes in.

    Max, Are any Christians over at your sicko atheist websites trying to hurt you?

    This is not the subject to be playing out your atheistic hatred (redundancy alert!). Take a time out from your need to despise Christians and just go get a burger. Pretend it was once a bull that gored some poor praying Christian in a coliseum your dredged up in your twisted dreams.

    Understand that what you spew only makes you look like the morally unhealthy person that you truly are.

  • Susan

    So where does this leave non-Christians? What if you don’t believe in Jesus? Is Jesus the only way to forgiveness. I don’t think so.

  • Greg1

    In this article, Jonathan Merritt doesn’t seem to understand the Sacred Scriptures very well. The rhetorical questions he asks about Jesus, miss the point completely. Jesus, who is God the Son, suppressed his divinity and took upon himself, human flesh. The only reason His Sacrifice is limitless in its worth, is because it was God who was slaughtered on the cross. No human or angel could atone for that measure of sin. But in order for it to be a perfect sacrifice, is if our Lord emptied himself completely–being abandoned by the Father–and succumbed as a human to the destructive forces that crucified him. Jesus was offering his own sacrifice to the Father, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world. His enemies did not know what they were doing as they were being tempted and driven by the Evil One, who is truly responsible, as was likely the case with Dylann Roof. And in like fashion, those beautiful family members forgave, as Christ forgave.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    How sad! Some people can’t— even temporarily— stifle their hatred of religion or Christianity even in the face of a love and nobility that puts haters to shame.

  • BB,

    Jesus says:

    “Kill them” (Luke 19:27)
    “Forgive them” (Luke 24:34)
    “Hate THEM” (Luke 14:26)
    “Let ME kill them” (Rev. 2:23)
    “LOVE THEM if they are Jewish” (Matt. 10:5-6)
    “IGNORE THEM IF they are NOT JEWISH” (Matthew 10:5-6)

    How do you decide which Jesus to follow?
    Do you toss a coin?
    Do you consult a Ouija board?
    Do you ask your priest?

    And when you make your decision, why do you lie afterwards?
    Why do you lie ? You say “God told you” but it was YOU all along.
    Why do you lie and insist God was needed for you to decide right and wrong?

    Moral choices have nothing to do with god.

  • Gregory Nyssa

    Good catch. By that line of reasoning one can also ask why did Jesus give the great commission to his follower — asking them to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He could have instead instructed them to baptize in his name only. This is exactly why understanding the Trinity is very important for professing Christians and not ask such fundamental questions.

  • Gregory Nyssa

    /followers

  • Boris

    The whole idea of sacrifice by a god is ludicrous and silly. Get over your fables already.

  • Boris

    Given its sorry history Christianity deserves the criticism its getting and then some.

  • Boris

    Asking questions is great and should be encouraged. It’s one of the best ways to get people over their religious delusions.

    It’s terrible that you are trying to discourage questions.

  • Deacon,

    “Stifle their hatred of religion..”

    White Supremacy in America is a Christian Religion.
    Deacon, are you suddenly a lover of Al Queda? Or ISIS? or Hezbollah, or the KKK?

    “Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk”
    (Lamentations 4:7)

    King David had “beautiful eyes” and a “fair countenance.”
    (1 Samuel 16:12)

    The time to address the problem of religion – its racist divisiveness and its depravity – is EXACTLY THE TIME when it is happening in our midst.

    Turning to Jesus Christ
    is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Now is the time to denounce this explosive, divisive Christian nonsense as we humanists do.

    Why give a pass to the KKK in times like this? Just because you are Christian you feel like apologizing for these racists?

  • Be Brave

    Susan,

    Wake up. This is NOT about non-believers. It is immutably about Christians and Christian life.

    You don’t need forgiveness, or morality, justice or judgment, if you believe as Max does that everything is just dust with an electric current animating it.

    Just live like a gerbil and die like one. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Christians have the right to believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To act towards Christians the way that Max and his gang of thugs do here on these boards or in real life, is more in line of hyena behavior than anything they pretend is human-like.

    If you don’t believe in Jesus . . . just move on.

  • Greg1

    Boris, if Christianity has a “sorry history,” tell us in comparison, which institution has reveled in great triumph over the past 2000 years?

  • Greg1

    Boris, Fables are doubtlessly part of your world, believing that there is no God. Since you have lost your love for the Truth, you should take on the cry of Jesus on the cross:
    “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
    Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
    O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;…
    I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
    my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast;
    my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
    thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
    Yea, dogs are round about me;
    a company of evildoers encircle me;
    they have pierced my hands and feet—
    I can count all my bones—
    they stare and gloat over me;
    they divide my garments among them,
    and for my raiment they cast lots….
    men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,
    and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
    that he has wrought it.
    (Psalm 22)

  • Be Brave

    Greg,

    Live your delusions and spare us the canned skeptic speech. Watching the idiocy that atheism grows in the minds of its worshippers is so laughable as to be painful to the stomach muscles.

    Mud Pies (materialists) that somehow assert that they can think and reason and have some semblance of morality, need to accept that their opinions are laughable and move on to interacting exclusively with other Mud Pies.

  • Be Brave

    Boris,

    Comparing what it is an atheist claims to be, an animated electric Mud Pie, to that of what a Christian represents, and it is effortless to reject the lunacy of materialism. The idea of a nothing person (an atheist) claiming that there is right and wrong is seriously laughable.

    Talking dirt that has an opinion?

    What lunacy atheism represents.

  • Be Brave

    Hey Boris,

    If you are a Mud Pie, that is to say an atheist, why is your opinion of Christianity worth anything?

    Now like a rock that falls from a high place and strikes a deer and kills it, you have accidently said something correct. Even Mud Pies can grow a flower.

    Christianity’s sorry history is based on Europeans doing with it what they have been doing for millennia to people before they discovered its influence on the populace. But unlike the idiocy of atheism, Christians admit to the wrongdoing and don’t ignore it.

    Christians are also intelligent enough to recognize that man’s inherent nature is not based on nothing creating them but rather recognizing the evil that people do in spite of wanting to excuse it away by some idiocy that materialism and atheism is not lunacy.

    The sorry history of applied atheism, in stark contrast to the reality of Christian life, makes the future nothing more than more worthlessness.

  • Be Brave

    Here is once again, an electric animated Mud Pie barking at things it cannot comprehend. And then demanding that we see its words tapped on a keyboard as anything more than the ravings of dirt and water that wants to be heard.

  • Susan

    You miss the point. I don’t believe as Max does, nor I am I a Christian. They are not the only two choices. Yes, Christians have the right to believe whatever they want, but they don’t have the right to foist it on me or to insist that they have the one and only answer, because they don’t.

  • BB,

    Which of these gods are you trying to prove?

    Aphrodite, Venus – goddesses of love and beauty
    Apollo – god of the sun, arts, and medicine; ideal of male beauty
    Ares, Mars – gods of war
    Artemis, Diana – gods of hunting and protectors of wild animals
    Athena, Minerva – goddesses of wisdom, warfare, and crafts
    Demeter, Ceres – goddess of grain, farming, and soil
    Hephaestus, Vulcan – god of fire, volcanoes, and industry
    Hera, Juno – queen of the gods, protector of marriage and childbirth
    Hermes, Mercury- messenger of the gods, patron of travelers, merchants, and thieves
    Hestia/Vesta – goddess of the hearth
    Poseidon/Neptune – gods of the sea
    Zeus and Jupiter, Allah, Yahweh – Kings of all Gods
    Dionysus/Bacchus- gods of wine and revelry
    Hades, Pluto, Satan, Beelzebub – Gods of the underworld
    Persephone, Proserpina – queens of the underworld
    Prometheus, Mercury – giver of fire and crafts to humans

    Which one is the true god?

  • Shelley

    Greg1, get thine goat sacrificed. There’s no more truth to your Christian stories than there is to those about the Norse gods.

    Boris is right. The entire idea of an omnipotent entity making a sacrifice is inane and intrinsically false, so that knocks Christianity out of the truth column from the get go.

  • BB,

    This is a partial list of the 6,800 known WATER GODS.
    Just wondering if you’d care to tell me which one is the real god of water?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_water_deities

  • BB,

    Here is a list of some of the 88,000 known EARTH GODS who rule over the soil.

    Since you think water and soil are rather un-magical by themselves, you might want to read up on all the Gods who were designated to infuse the soil with amazing properties.

    Perhaps you will find a God you could recommend to me. I’d like to know which of these Gods are the true god of the earth:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nature_deities

  • Dionysius

    Democracy is one, surviving and growing despite all the Christian attempts to squelch it.

  • Be Brave

    Max,

    Don’t pretend that you don’t know the lunacy of materialism. You can play your skeptics game all day long and you are still left with the fact that your claims come from animated dirt that somehow asserts it has opinions that can mean anything.

    The idea of “gods” making things happen is far more sensible than actually really trying to sell the lunacy that there is not intense and incredible order to even the tiniest particles we can observe.

    Your pathetic attempts at throwing gods at me is so humorous as to have me call some of my friends to view your worthless offerings.
    0 x 0 = 0 You can’t escape reality. You can’t pretend that reason supports anything about atheism. Atheism is either simpleton idiocy or a complicated ruse to escape accountability for being a pride filled scumbag. Actions speak louder than words. The bad guys deny their conscience. You atheists claim to have one, but as true lunatics, you claim to be nothing but dirt that can somehow claim…

  • Susan

    Max,

    1 Samuel, 16:12, in the Jewish Publication Society translation says, “he was ruddy-cheeked, bright-eyed and handsome.”

    Yes, Lamentations does say, “the elect were purer than snow, whiter than milk, but you stopped there, it goes on to say, “Their limbs were ruddier than Coral, Their bodies were like sapphires, Lamentations is poetry.

  • Be Brave

    Susan,

    It’s admirable that you attempt to evoke congeniality from an atheist, but it is like expecting a thrown rock to feel what it hits.

    To point out how an atheist like Max pulls their “evidence” out of the Bible is appreciated, but most of us know that his biblical prowess is laughable at best. It’s nothing more than cut and paste from the common “freethinker” trash sites. It is designed to hurt and harm. Nothing more than that. Best to prayer for his soul and hope for the best. His pain is so intense that he is not going to react in a reasonable way to the obvious exposing of his dishonest tactics.

  • BB,

    You have no evidence at all.
    Where is the god who you say is the most powerful, most amazing, most perfect, most timeless, most astounding thing in the universe?

    Shouldn’t there be some evidence for your claim?

    Besides, if you claim God did something why can’t you prove it? The only evidence which actually exists regarding world religions shows that humans invented all of the gods.

    claiming “it can’t have happened without a god” is like saying “snow can’t exist without a God” – you have no proof
    and I have no reason to believe a word you say.

  • David F Mayer

    Mass murderers need disposal like the garbage that they are, not forgiveness.

    This bozo needs to be given a death sentence, after due process, of course.

  • Susan,

    I’m sure the entirety of the White Supremacist Christian Society will be thrilled to learn that Lamentations is only poetry.

    Literal readings would not happen if people were taught the truth: There is NO REAL GOD.

    IF a god exists, prove it. Otherwise stop pretending you have some magical information which has been somehow denied to me!

  • BB,

    Where is your magical information?
    How did you gain access to information about God’s existence which cannot be ascertained by anyone else?

    And how dare you claim to have this information without feeling the least bit of obligation to provide it!!!

    Where is your evidence for your magic god?

  • Be Brave

    Mr. Mayer,

    Ever notice Jesus didn’t pardon the criminals beside Him?

    Forgiveness – Christian forgiveness – does not eliminate consequences for evil actions. It only addresses what is forgivable.

    Roof needs to be treated like the mass murderer that he is. He obviously believes in the death penalty. Let him stay the course.

  • BB,

    HATE?

    Your God answers no prayers. Why does he hate people who pray?

    Your god does not intercede for people dying from diseases. Why does your God hate people with diseases?

    Your God does not stop murders. Why does he hate victims of crime so much that he won’t help?

    Your God does not re-grow lost limbs.

    Amputees have never even ONCE been cured by any God in history.

    Why does god help some evil sinners feel good about raping children by (supposedly) forgiving them after prayers?
    But HE WON’T GROW BACK A LEG OR AN ARM?
    OR EVEN ONE FINGER ON A RIGHT HAND!
    It never happened even once!

    How much hatred is in your God for amputees?
    And why does your God hate children with bone cancer?
    They always die in brutal pain – 100% of them.

    Explain the hatred at the heart of your all-powerful, do nothing God.

  • “Roof….believes in the death penalty”

    He also believes Jesus made him superior to black people. He follows the Supremacist Religion – a branch of Christianity.

    Jesus is gasoline on a fire.
    “Kill them all” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

  • larry

    Troll says what? You can avoid addressing me directly. I don’t bother with your posts.

  • Where is your god? Show it.

  • David F Mayer

    An ordinary criminal who steals is one thing. A person who murders in a fit of passion is another. But both are clearly different from a homicidal psychopath who murders people just because he can. Such a person (if you can call him that), deserves only ignominious death.

  • @ BB,

    I don’t know how Twizzlers are made.
    That doesn’t mean they could ONLY HAVE BEEN CREATED by red leprechauns.

    How do you know the universe wasn’t created by Red Leprechauns?
    Why must it be a God?

    Just because You don’t know – doesn’t mean that YOU KNOW it must be a God!

  • @BB,

    “Roof is as Christian as you Max..”

    Excuse me?
    Roof is a militant Christian. He killed people at the direction of Jesus to advance his religious dogma.

    I am neither militant nor willing to kill for a dogma.

    Dylan Roof is a typical Christian.
    “Kill them” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

  • Greg1

    Dio, your Democracy is just over 200 years old, and fading fast. The Catholic Church is 2000 years old, and still teaching the same thing, performing the same rites, and proclaiming the same Gospel it has since the beginning. It is the only institution that is still here since our Lord has died. Your “democracy” has led to millions of babies being snuffed out in the womb without a soul lifting a finger to stop it. There are protests, murders, executions, wrongly accused victims going to jail, personal growth and businesses being squelched by a government that loves to control its people. There are dirty politicians of every brand who use tax payer money for their own gain. The list goes on; no this Republic has seen its glory days. We will become a third world nation within 150 years due to its lack of love and fidelity to the Truth.

  • Greg1

    Susan, anyone who truly and earnestly seeks God with an open mind, will find him. He calls each of us personally to himself, and provides the graces necessary for us to understand that He is there calling, calling. The problem these days is we are surrounded by much noise; the distractions are endless. Each of our souls were created for one reason only: to spend eternity in heaven with God Almighty.

  • Greg1

    Oh if you only knew the Infinite God…

  • JR

    In horrible cases like this I don’t know how it’s possible for family members to forgive the killer almost immediately after it happened. The headlines were refreshing compared to what they could have been ( Baltimore, Ferguson), and the citizens of all colors have acted together against this tragedy. But forgiveness? For me it would take a long time, if ever, to feel true forgiveness if someone murdered a family member. The best I could do would be to ignore their existence, let the law do its work, and avoid obsessing over the revenge I want. Truthfully, I would pray for myself…..maybe forgiveness would evolve from that.

  • larry

    So Greg1, you oppose Democracy because it does not cater to your every whim and religious dogma. You magically think the Catholic Church has been free of corruption, intrigue and autocratic actions.

    Are you out of your mind?

  • Ted

    No, the Bible is a set of allegorical teaching stories, which likely contain some particles of factual history, though we’ll never fully know precisely which or where. Which does nothing to reduce its centrality and value as Word of God.

    It’s remarkable how so many of the supposedly so “intelligent” atheists out there commit the exact same mistake as the fundamentalists, and treat (or, in their case, dismiss) the Bible as a supposedly factual record.

    You might try some mature Biblical scholarship and interpretation, for a change.

  • Ted

    No, the Bible is a set of allegorical teaching stories, which likely contain some particles of factual history, though we’ll never fully know precisely which or where. Which does nothing to reduce its centrality and value as Word of God.

    It’s remarkable how so many of the supposedly so “intelligent” atheists out there commit the exact same mistake as the fundamentalists, and treat (or, in their case, dismiss) the Bible as a supposedly factual record.

    You might try some mature Biblical scholarship and interpretation, for a change.

  • Ted

    LOL. Atheists and fundamentalists are all the same. You proof-text in salute to your own egoistic goals.

  • Ted

    Yes, it is, as the Orthodox have known for 2,000 years.

    If you’re going to try dismissing the entire field of soteriology, you might try familiarizing yourself with it all first. Of course it’s pretty much all “fable”. That has nothing to do with whether the Bible is Word of God.

    Silly atheists. You’re as bad as the fundamentalists.

  • Ted

    Silly atheist. Doesn’t understand monotheism, but that won’t keep him from ranting.

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  • BB

    Max, max, max, max, max.

    It’s not my burden to try to get you to believe that the silliness you declare is somehow not nonsense to me. You seem happy in your hatred and Mud Pie existence. But I’ll offer you Peter Kreeft’s work, which I’m betting you won’t take the time to peruse anyway. You would have to actually implement free thinking. And that is just about impossible for a freethinker. Y’all seem to love be led around by the nose.

    Mr. Kreeft: http://www.peterkreeft.com/featured-writing.htm

    I’m sorry I can’t relate to the darkness you portray and seem to live in. I’m fairly sure I was somewhat like that when I was an atheist. But thank Entropy that mindset has faded away for the most part.

  • Garson Abuita

    Nothing, because the shooter isn’t asking to be forgiven, which is why this is so crazy. It’s one thing when someone does something wrong, realizes it, and truly asks for forgiveness as part of a path of repentance- like a child hurting a parent or vice versa. Here, we’re praising the forgivers- are we also condemning the victims’ families who aren’t so forgiving? They have a right not to forgive.

  • BB

    With every stroke of the keyboard Max, you prove the worthlessness of atheism.

  • Which god is the actual one?
    And why did he let the other gods deceive so many billions of people?

    No matter which gods are true
    the majority of people on earth
    have been misinformed for centuries.

    Why did God allow that?

  • Where is your god?

  • Greg1

    Larry, the Catholic Church has a human element, so there will always be sin in the Church; however, Jesus promised that his Church would never be destroyed (Matthew 16:18), and so, it never will be. The difference with the Church is she goes through growing pains like any person. Once our Lord reveals a problem, the Church repents, corrects, and becomes even more holy than before drifted from its mission. This latest male pedophilia scandal, for example, was a disease hiding beneath the skin of the Church–an infection. So Our Lord revealed it, shamed it, and caused the Church to see its shameful filth. And now it is on its way to becoming even more beautiful once fully rooted out. Governments, on the other hand, are full of politicians, who lie, cheat, and steal. These people will never admit to any fault, and will go to their grave proclaiming innocence. Institutions like that will descend to the depths of hell, and our Republic is well on its way.

  • Fran

    Forgiveness would be possible if Dylann Roof showed sincere repentance for his actions and turned his life around, showing true love and concern for his fellowman, no matter the race or culture.

    Whether or not he even attempts to do so, or is successful at all, remains to be seen. But God can read his heart and know what kind of person he truly is now, as well as what he becomes in the future.

  • @Ted,

    So you claim – with your absolute knowledge and arrogance – that Jesus didn’t mean the things he said?

    I am living in a world where Christians deny women their rights to their own bodies SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE Jesus meant the things he said.

    If Jesus didn’t mean it, why do you give it so much weight!!!!???

    And how does that make me “egoistic” and you not?

  • @Ted,

    “the Bible is a set of allegorical teaching stories….”

    Oh. So when it demands death to real people (as opposed to allegorical people) the right decision is to ignore the bible.

    So ‘sins’ are really only relevant to allegorical people – not real people?

    When did you become allegorical? And why should real people be forced to bother with your ridiculous allegories through torture!!!~???

  • Susan

    I am not pretending that I have magical information that has somehow been denied to you. You don’t even need to believe in God to have access to it. The rabbi of my synagogue says that if you are reading the Bible by yourself, you should be arguing with yourself.

    You have the same access that I do to Jewish commentaries on the Bible that I do, because more and more of the commentaries are available in English translation. I listen to other people who have ideas that I never would have thought of or are much more knowledgeable than me. The rabbis believed that the Bible had levels of meaning. The first level of meaning was the on its face reading, but their interpretations are available to anyone.

    The average person should be able to see in the literal meaning of those verses from Lamentations without any magical knowledge. A person with a milk-white face, red limbs and a sapphire body is not a real human being. I would suggest that you go to Michael Curasik’s web site for a…

  • Susan

    I just wanted to add that it doesn’t take any secret or magical knowledge to read and understand poetry.

    Michael Carasik is a University of Pennsylvania Hebrew professor. He is in the process of translating the rabbinical Torah commentators into English. There is also Back to the Sources edited by Barry Holtz which was very helpful

  • Ted, you might want to direct that towards the vocal idiot believers who consider it inerrant and literally. They seem to have an awful lot of political power as of late. Moreso than what atheists muster.

    If the anti-theist crowd assumes fundamentalism and literalism as a default, it is because believers like yourself are silent in the face of them.

  • Greg1, unless you have the word of God coming down directly to tell you what to do in a clear unambiguous manner, all leadership is “human elements”.

    Clergy and churches are no more moral or responsible than any other organizations of people. Claiming they are better than governments for ruling people is a fiction. There is no contrast to make here. You are engaging in a fantasy for people too lazy to look at their own authority figures.

    There is no freedom in theocracy. Its tyranny. Tyranny is suffering and misery and waste. Please don’t ever discuss ideas like religious freedom or your need to exercise it. You have no idea what the concept will ever mean or what its purpose is.

  • Greg1

    Larry I am not engaging in fantasy. The Catholic Church has been here for 2000 years ONLY because our Lord promised it would be. But that fact, is simply fact, not fantasy. If you want a lasting institution, then model it after the CC.

  • Tcj

    Plato clarified the relevance of gods in questions of morality (none) quite a while back.

  • Susan,

    You claim these religious stories are just metaphors, allegories and poems. You reject claims which say these stories and laws of God must be taken LITERALLY.

    “Truly I say to you…” – JESUS

    “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
    (2 Timothy 2:15)

    Susan – how did you manage to figure out that you are the only one who understands this to be only A METAPHOR?

    “The daughter must be burned alive in the fire.” – Yahweh (Leviticus 21:9)

    I’m sure all the burned daughters through history
    will be glad to know their violent horrific deaths were based on a misunderstanding of God’s true intention to recite poetry !!

  • Susan

    “Susan – how did you manage to figure out that you are the only one who understands this to be only A METAPHOR?”

    Max, you missed my point. I didn’t, at least not by myself. First of all, I am not the only one. The rabbis believed that the Torah was the word of God, but they believed the literal meaning of the Torah was just the first level of interpreting the Torah. They saw deeper meanings in each word of the Torah. They thought and argued over it. I am part of a very long tradition that goes back over a thousand years. Jews just don’t read the Bible by itself, They read it surrounded by centuries of commentaries by rabbis through the ages.

    To give you just one example, because it it the one I know the most about, “an eye for an eye” was almost immediately reinterpreted to mean “monetary compensation for an eye.” The Torah says “a life for a life”, but the rabbis added so many restrictions that it became virtually impossible to ever execute anyone for murder.