Answering a question of Forgiveness by a Muslim

Hey everyone,

I tried to find answers online but it’s a bit difficult. The question comes from a Muslim that I’m discussing my faith with at the moment.
The proposition is as follows: Christians believe that in Jesus our sins are forgiven. But what if someone, a Christian, murdered a child. Isn’t it unfair of God to forgive him? Can’t the murderer just say to the family: “but God forgave me, so you have to do that too. I don’t need to go to prison”. And isn’t it unfair of God to forgive someone without giving the offended person/family “extra points” or some other benefit, as it’s them who is harmed. They should be included in the forgiving process.

Basically: How can God forgive person A if also person B is harmed and not just God. Doesn’t this take away the right of justice from B? And if God’s forgiveness isn’t real forgiveness for A, then what’s the point?

The idea is: Forgiving in christianity is worthless, as either it’s meaningless if God forgives you but you still go to prison, or it’s injust as God lets bad actions go unpunished on this earth just based on the fact if you believe in Jesus. So Christians are always innocent no matter what they do whereas non-Christians aren’t forgiven. Doesn’t it create a society where everyone just do what they want?
And if the family would forgive him, as good Christians should: what’s the point, God had forgiven him anyway, they just loose double (in islam they would get extra points for forgiving people I think, whereas when they don’t forgive, part of the offender’s good deeds will be transfered to the family’s account to make up for their own bad deeds. Basically a transaction of + and - points.)

That’s the idea basically.
I know that this absolutely isn’t what Christians believe. And I tried to answer with what becoming Christian does to the heart and that it changes the heart (but of course there are still Christians who murder, it doesn’t make you immune). And I said that you would still go to prison. But also that God does forgive you.
However, I wonder how it works with God forgiving you if another person is involved and they don’t want to forgive you. I’ve never really thought about that.
Can anyone please help me out? :slightly_smiling_face:

4 Likes

Hello @Nou Thank you for your post. This answer will not cover all of your questions, but hopefully some insight will be given. This reply is not meant to diminish the seriousness of your comments or concerns in regards to penal laws or punitive measures. This is just an observation from a different angle.

Is it unfair of God to forgive the guilty? Yes, it is unfair. The mercy, grace and kindness of God are not justice, but this in no way implies that God is unjust or that He doesn’t hate sin. The following reminds us that all these converged at the cross.

“I am bringing [Jesus] out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” (John 19.4)

"But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23.21)

Is it unfair for the innocent One to die for the guilty ones? Yes. It is, but that is exactly what happened through His righteousness and His blood. In this unfair economy no one got what they deserved. But because of this economy, the wrath of God was satisfied, the crowning work of the Son is forever complete, and those who profess Him as Lord are eternal recipients of this great salvation.

4 Likes

Hi Anna,
This is a long question with multiple questions within. I will try and answer them one by one as briefly as possible.

Also keep in mind that many of these questions posed by your friend are hypothetical and based on lack of understanding of God, his forgiveness and salvation. If you have an opportunity to answer this person, do it with prayer and a sound knowledge of what the gospel actually teaches us.

Yes, absolutely right.
Eph 1:7 - In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Yes, it would be completely unjust of God if the person who committed sin/crime did not get the punishment it deserved. But God is a God of justice - the punishment for the sin, every sin, is death. The punishment was given, but God so loved the world that He sent his son Jesus, who took the punishment on himself so that we might live through faith in him (John 3:16). So at the cross the justice of God met with the love and grace of God - justice was done and forgiveness and mercy were shown.

Rom 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Absolutely not! If a person has truly experienced the forgiveness of God (not just knowing about it), he (or she) will know that he is most underserving of that forgiveness and would be the last person to make such a statement. The fact is that we are totally undeserving of the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ and have no justification in making such a statement.

Also, the forgiveness of God through Jesus is to save us from the consequences of our sin according to the law of God - to save us from eternal death and separation from God (also called hell). The forgiveness should not be confused with salvation from the laws of the world. The law (of the world) will take its due course and if the ‘Christian’ is truly sorry, he will abide by the laws of the world and go to prison if necessary.

John 5:24 - I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

2 Likes

God is a God of justice. He will ensure that he gives justice to those who are offended. How they will get justice and how they will be included in the forgiving process is something between God and that person; we may or may not be aware of how He does this. In a broader sense, He has already demonstrated his justice through Christ and his death on the cross. It is up to each person to accept this justice through faith in Him.

Rom 3:25, 26 - God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus .

God forgives everyone who comes to Him in faith - whether it is A or B. He is impartial, fair and loving to all, whether Christian or not. He causes rain to fall on both the just and the unjust.
Mathew 5:45 - He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

The forgiveness of God is real, very real. I have experienced the burden of sin being taken away, and so have millions of those who have but their trust in Christ. However, the reality of this forgiveness will be consummated, reach its completion only after the great judgement of Christ at the end of the age, when every man and every sin will be judged fairly and justice is given to all. On earth, right now, we only see a part of this process, the personal part that concerns only you.

Acts 17:31 - because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
Rom 2:6 - God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”

2 Likes

The forgiveness of God (as I said earlier) does not determine whether you will face or not face the consequences of breaking human laws. Right now, God has given man authority to rule the earth and we will have to face the consequences of these laws, whether just or unjust, whether we do what is right or wrong. The final fair judgement however, will come from God on the judgement day.
Prov 11:31 - If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Absolutely not. Christians are not innocent, neither are non-Christians. Everyone is guilty of sin. We are made righteous only IN Christ, THROUGH his work on the cross. Every person, irrespective of religion or background is forgiven if they put their trust in Christ.

No, it doesn’t create a society where everyone does what they want - on the other hand, Christians who have truly experienced the forgiveness of Christ have been instrumental in ensuring justice and righteousness in society. Whether it was abolition of slavery, establishing hospitals to look after the sick, taking care of the untouchables… the list goes on; in all these Christians have been in the forefront.

2 Likes

Interesting questions, @Nou.

When a person sins, he actually violates multiple parties who all make multiple claims for justice – and these multiple claims do not necessarily overlap.

God has been violated, and the justice that He demands would exact an infinite penalty in the eternal lake of fire.

The person sinned against has been violated, as well as his various friends and family members, and the justice they demand would usually be some form of restitution.

The society they live in has been violated, because every crime disturbs the general peace and sense of well-being and contributes to a rise of communal fear. The civil authorities will usually exact justice in some combination of either fines, imprisonment or execution.

To satisfy the justice of any one offended party will not necessarily satisfy the demands of any other. The forgiveness of God has nothing whatsoever to do with the forgiveness of the victim or his family or of the state – and vice versa.

Of the demands that the guilty party must satisfy, the demands of God are the most urgent because His justice is by far the most severe.

How can God pardon a guilty party and still be just? The only way would be for an innocent party to take the guilty one’s place. God can let the sinner escape the infinite justice of hell only by letting His Son suffer it in the sinner’s place.

As far as “points” are concerned – that whole concept is completely alien to anything the Bible describes. God’s justice is all or nothing for every soul who has ever lived. Anyone depending on “points” will find themselves on the “nothing” end of the salvation equation. They need to quit playing games with points and accept the same infinite forgiveness for their sins that the criminal needs for his.

I hope these thoughts will help you.

3 Likes

Thank you all so much for your answers :slight_smile: They have helped me in getting clarification on the issue. I think sometimes it’s difficult to explain complex concepts as the worldview someone else is coming from is quite different to our own one, and neither is it the one most literature on the topic is about, namely skeptics and atheism.
Again, thank you all so much :slight_smile: