Friday, December 29, 2006

Christianity Today: The Scandal of Forgiveness

Christianity Today: The Scandal of Forgiveness
"The grisly, premeditated shooting of 10 Amish girls—five of them fatally—by Charles Carl Roberts at a one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, on October 2 was shocking.

The Amish response, however, was even more so.

The bloody incident ended with Roberts—who apparently intended to sexually assault the girls first—taking his own life when police stormed the building. Within hours, the Amish community publicly forgave this outsider and expressed loving concern for his widow and three children. Many of the mourners at Roberts' funeral were Amish.

"Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need," the killer's widow, Marie Roberts, wrote the Amish later. "Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world."

In awe, most media observers, at least for a moment, dropped their prevailing storyline that religion is, at best, irrelevant to truly important matters and, at worst, dangerous. ..."

There are lists being assembled of the top religion news stories of 2006, and this appears on at least two that I have seen: and Religion News Writers.

Stan Guthrie's article reminds us all the the horror of the events of early October 2006. My earlier posting on the Amish response to the massacre has some pertinent background information linked.

Guthrie provides a frank discussion of the difficulties in forgiving, and that it is not the world's way -- but it is the way of Jesus Christ. Corrie Ten Boom found this out in a personal way when a former guard at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp came up to her after one of her talks in the late 1940s. It was not until soul-searching and prayer that she was finally able to forgive the man who had humiliated her in many ways during her incarceration.

I concur with the choice of this story as being in the top 10, and we can all take lessons from the way the Amish put their faith into practice. It is a terrible price to pay for such a lesson, but the Grace of God can divert evil to good.

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