Conference: Is Christian Forgiveness Immoral

McDonald Center Annual Conference, 2010

The McDonald Centre’s annual spring conference in 2010 was held on 13-14 May.  Entitled ‘Is Christian Forgiveness Immoral?’, it attracted 70 participants, including six speakers, one from Denmark and two from Northern Ireland, and several members of the Centre’s Advisory Council.  The conference dealt with a cluster of questions: Is forgiveness ever appropriate at a political, rather than an interpersonal, level? Do Christians actually agree about what forgiveness is, and when it is appropriate?  And how do Christian views look to philosophers?  

Of those who made formal presentations, Thomas Brudholm is a philosopher who had written critically of certain Christian views of forgiveness and its political role; Nigel Biggar and Stephen Williams are Christian theologians who had already disagreed in print over the role of forgiveness in post-Troubles Northern Ireland; Anthony Bash and Geoffrey Scarre are the authors of, respectively, important theological and philosophical work on forgiveness; and Philip Barnes is a Christian philosopher, who has written on forgiveness and justice in Northern Ireland. The final and additional paper on this theme was authored by the Reformed theologian, Michael Beintker, whose study of redeeming the past sheds light on the problem of forgiveness in the German context.

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