Is Forgiveness the Way to Overcome Evil?

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“EVIL CAN ONLY BE OVERCOME BY GOOD”: IS FORGIVENSS THE WAY EVIL IS OVERCOME? Evil in the context of this essay refers to moral evil, which is evil that we as human beings originate through our thoughts and subsequent actions. ‘The greatest bulk of human suffering is due either wholly or in part to the actions or inactions of other human beings’. The problem of evil is a serious and enduring challenge for religious faith, as Romans chapter 12:21 states ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’. In this the final verse of the chapter, there is an underlying promise that good will eventually triumph over evil, as Paul encourages Christians to not allow evil to overwhelm them but instead to play their part in overcoming evil through doing good. In modern culture, for example, violence is met with counter violence, injustice with force; the pervasiveness of sin and evil is such that we are compelled to wonder whether the darkness has eclipsed the light. In essence, forgiveness is the means to overcoming or conquering evil by unlearning and breaking the habits of sin and stopping cycles of violence and vengeance. Habits and practices of forgiveness in the service of holiness, is a way of unlearning sin and evil in general and violence in particular. Embodying forgiveness is the way that offers new life and a hopeful future to those who suffer and to those who inflict suffering. This essay will examine the practice of forgiveness as a way of healing brokenness, being healed by God and by others. The question then is, what is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a process of ‘letting go’, that is not allowing the negative experiences of the past to dominate the future. ‘Let the past shape the future positively’. From a Christian’s perspective, forgiveness is not so much a spoken word, a feeling felt or an action performed; it is an embodied way of life in an ever-deepening friendship with the Triune God and with others. Due to the persuasiveness of...
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