Our Christian faith is big on forgiveness – particularly on our need of God’s forgiveness, and on God’s willingness to extend it. In the Church of England, most of our liturgies include a section for confession of our sin and a declaration of God’s forgiveness for those who are truly penitent. In the 1662 Book of Common Prayer these prayers of confession rather dwell on our unworthiness and wretchedness; which may be true, but I have begun to wonder what the long-term effects of reciting this language week after week have been in congregations where this has been regular practice. To me though, New Testament doesn’t seem to encourage quite this level of introspection. Rather, it encourages us to receive and rejoice in the forgiveness freely offered. Is our liturgical practice part of the root of the lack of self-confidence one finds in many congregations and congregants?
On the other hand, we have recently seen the growth of the non-apology in public life – the sort of thing where a politician regrets that others have been hurt/offended by some words or action, but makes no real apology or change in behaviour or attitude.