Early in chp 5 of The Faces of Forgiveness, LeRon Shults states this: “believers are called to face one another in a way that manifests grace as they are faced by the gracious face of God” (169). And he sees forgiveness manifested in the three major relations: faith, love, and hope. For each section, he deals with similar themes: anxiety, the centrality of Jesus Christ, and the importance of the sacramental community. Here is the question to ask: Since forgiveness is pressed to the front by Jesus and the NT, how does forgiveness interact with faith, with love, and with hope?
Faith involves facing epistemic anxiety; love involves facing ethical anxiety; hope involves facing ontological anxiety.
“Christian forgiveness is not ignorant — it knows, but still offers grace” (175). This is crucial; forgiveness does not pretend something wrong is not wrong; it knows something wrong is wrong; and it chooses another way. It believes in an alternative reality of grace that can redemptively re-create communities and relations.
Faith involves finding our personal identity in Christ; love means dying to sin with Jesus Christ; hope involves being conformed to the image of Christ.
Personal identity is framed in relation with others (Sandage dealt with this theme, too). Here’s a great observation by Shults: “If personal identity is found as one is known by a truly infinite Other, the self has space and time to become itself without losing its finite historical particularity” (179).
Faith involves knowing in sacramental community; love involves acting in baptized community; and hope involves “being” in eucharistic community.
“… the sacramental community is a dynamic nexus of concrete relations; the church is constituted by the relational presence of the Spirit of Christ in which it coheres and to which it adheres” (183).
Notice this comment: “Perhaps the Lord’s Supper is not about substance-iation at all, but about the substantive transformation of broken relations into new beautiful patters of living that share in community-healing reality of divine grace” (217).
Much to be said all around, but this is a fine book that explores “face” and the theme of forgiveness in light both of social-science research and Bible/theology.