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Key Themes of Forgiveness (Debra Fuller)


Theme 1 

         According to a study performed by Frise and McMinn (2010), psychologists and theologians differ on their overall definition of forgiveness. Theologians generally agree that forgiveness and reconciliation go hand-in-hand, however psychologists do not believe that with forgiveness comes reconciliation, or the recovery of a relationship after apologies have been made for example (Glaeser, 2008, p.84)


Theme 2

Rapske, Boon, Alibhai and Kheong (2010) delved into a fairly new approach to forgiveness by asking the question of whether it’s okay to not forgive. Are there benefits? Responses within their study reported both: there are benefits and there are none. Their discussion pointed out that our own ides about forgiveness are exactly what gets in our way. One reason given by participants in the study was that forgiving would be condoning the offense (p. 1123-1124). Overall, the majority seemed to point to more benefit from forgiveness. (Rapske, et. al, 2010)


Theme 3 and Conclusion

This brings us to the key point of what do professionals and experts generally agree about forgiving? Glaeser (2008) states that “letting go of resentments is crucial for personal growth and healing to take place” (p. 338, last paragraph) Many people want the benefits of forgiveness so much that they forgive to soon (premature/pseudo-/fake forgiveness) (p. 341) in hopes for relief and restoration of good feelings. Forgiveness takes conscious effort and is affected by all aspects of an individual’s life, from their own beliefs and experience in life to their environment and what influences them. It is a “process of social transformation” (p. 340, summary of the findings) that is left unfinished when forgiveness is rushed. Only through the true process of forgiveness and of acknowledging the parts that make up the whole of the offence can true “letting go” and no longer desiring pay-back be taken hold of. (Glaeser, 2008)




Frise, N. R. and McMinn, M. R. (2010). Forgiveness and reconciliation: The differing perspectives of psychologists and Christian theologians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 38(2), 83-90. 


Glaeser, M. (2008, December). What does it take to let go? An investigation into the facilitating and obstructing factors of forgiveness - the therapist's perspective: Research report. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 21(4), 337-348.  


Rapske, D. L, Boon, S. D., Alibhai, A. M., and Kheong, M. J. (2010). Not forgiven, not forgotten: An investigation of unforgiven interpersonal offenses. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29(10), 1100-1130.

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