Mailvox: on forgiveness

Raker Tooth asks for my opinion:

Among Christians, there is a debate about who is to be forgiven. Some say that according to the NT, only those who ask for forgiveness are owed it. Do you have a position on this?

Yes. Now, bearing in mind that I am no theologian, my opinion is that since the Bible indicates God requires repentance in order to receive the gift of grace, forgiveness can only genuinely be granted to those who ask for it. This position is supported by the verses which indicate that forgiveness requested is not to be denied; there is a inherent presumption there that without any request having yet been made, no forgiveness could have been previously granted.

Personally, I tend to view gestures of “forgiveness” granted prior to any request for it or even indication of repentance to be a form of moral grandstanding that is contrary to the divine example presented in the Bible. Of course, this does not justify bitterness in clinging to past injuries or preclude a predisposition to readily grant forgiveness once it is requested.