Original Research - Special Collection: UP Faculty of Theology Centenary Volume One

Die helende krag van regverdige vergifnis, sonder kondonering van onreg

Rudy Denton
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3265 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3265 | © 2016 Rudy Denton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 November 2015 | Published: 22 July 2016

About the author(s)

Rudy Denton, Unit for Reformed Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, South Africa


The healing power of just forgiveness, without excusing injustice. Justice is closely related to forgiveness and the extent of the injustice gap experienced depends on how much or how little personal justice a wounded person desires. The experience of forgiveness includes two diverse forms of forgiveness: decisional and emotional forgiveness. Decisional forgiveness is controlling humans’ behavioural intentions, while emotional forgiveness replaces negative, unforgiving emotions with positive, other-orientated emotions. A victim may make a decision to forgive, but never feels emotional peace about the decision to forgive. Both decisional and emotional forgiveness are experienced internally within a wounded person and depends on the social context of the transgression and the response to it. Justice can narrow the injustice gap, but rarely closes it, while forgiveness can heal the pain within the injustice gap. The sense of desired justice is to some degree justifiable, but by granting decisional forgiveness and experiencing emotional forgiveness a wounded person can slow down if not stop ruminating vengeful thoughts. Christians can forgive transgression and wrongdoing because they are responding in gratitude to God’s mercy, loving-kindness and forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross. God guides Christian believers through the example of Jesus’s humility to forgive wrongdoing and ultimately grow spiritually when Jesus requires decisional forgiveness and desires emotional forgiveness between victim and offender. Forgiveness is based on God’s forgiveness, while humans tend to both forgive and also pursue justice without excusing injustice. Humans are in their own power incapable of justly forgiving transgression, but God can guide people through the Holy Spirit to just forgiveness.


helende krag; geregtigheid; ongeregtigheid; beslissende vergifnis; emosionele vergifnis


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