Douglas Murray and the Need for Forgiveness in a Culture Where It Seems Impossible

I’ve been reading Douglas Murray’s excellent book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity. Before the final section of the book, he has an interlude with the title, “On Forgiveness.” Given what some call the “Cancel Culture,” which seeks to punish people interminably for real or perceived misdeeds or mistakes, his words are particularly striking and even convicting. And this from a thinker who is ostensibly not religious. Is he not right that perhaps learning to forgive is the only way out of our present cultural morass? Alas, while I appreciate his words, as a Christian it is difficult for me to see both a motivation, basis, or power for forgiveness apart from the reconciling work of the cross and the power of the good news. Yet maybe someone like Murray can at least draw our attention to the matter at hand. He’s raising some important questions here while offering interesting historical analysis. This is how he puts it:

The consensus for centuries was that only God could forgive the ultimate sins. But on a day to-day level the Christian tradition, among others, also stressed the desirability–if not the necessity–of forgiveness. Even to the point of infinite forgiveness. As one of the consequences of the death of God, Friedrich Nietzsche foresaw that people could find themselves stuck in cycles of Christian theology with no way out. Specifically that people would inherit the concepts of guilt, sin and shame but would be without the means of redemption which the Christian religion also offered. Today we do seem to live in a world where actions can have consequences we could never have imagined, where guilt and shame are more at hand than ever, and where we have no means whatsoever of redemption. We do not know who could offer it, who could accept it, and whether it is a desirable quality compared to an endless cycle of fiery certainty and denunciation.

Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity

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