According to Atonement Wars and Forgiveness « A Brick in the Valley:
In the Bible, forgiveness is defined as,
Forgiveness – a commitment by the offended to graciously pardon the repentant from moral obligation or liability.
Let us consider the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14).
9 "This, then, is how you should pray:
" ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Jesus does not say anything here about only forgiving the repentant. Or consider Luke 6:37
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
We forgive in order to be forgiven. It has to be an act of will not a response to repentance.
Paul, also taught that we forgive without requiring repentance, not only taught it but did it. See 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has
grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there
was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your
sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Not even waiting to be sure there was something to forgive.
I suspect that the role of repentance in forgiveness is getting confused here. My forgiving someone (if you like the offer of forgiveness) does not depend on their repentance. After all Jesus died so that I could be forgiven before I even offended, not just before I repented. However, the reception of that forgiveness by the offender does depend on their repentance. There is a timing mismatch. The offer of forgiveness (ie the act of will by the offended) is not connected in time to the repentance of the offender.
In relation to God, thanks to Jesus, the offer of forgiveness is always there before repentance. Repentance is what allows the offer to be accepted. In human relationships the two things are far less connected. I should offer forgiveness, even though there may never be repentance, so that I can be right with God. I should repent of my offences, even though the person whom I offended may never offer me forgiveness, so that I can receive God’s forgiveness.
Now I entirely agree that the act of forgiveness is not centred on feelings. However, I do experience that making the act of will to forgive someone does result in feelings. Quite simply when I forgive someone else it is good for me. Should this be a surprise? That when I actually do what Jesus has commanded me to do that I feel better. Whoa dangerous stuff this feelings. Come on wake up, smell the roses.
I suggest going and reading some stories from Corrie ten Boom or other Christians from the past who have learnt the hard way that forgiveness as an act of will (an act only possible through Christ at work in us) does not depend on repentance and does change us (why should that be a surprise as Jesus makes clear our own forgiveness depends on forgiving others).
Now to get back to the article in question by Chris which he starts with:
The current atonement debate has implications far beyond the
doctrine of salvation. We are beginning to see how a departure from
the Reformation understanding of the atonement will trickle down into
areas of practical theology such as forgiveness.
What we actually see is an association. When you take a view of atonement that stridently makes exclusive claims for a single theory (Penal Substitution), that calls down curses on Christians who reject this exclusivity, that focuses on the wrath of God in a way that Jesus never did, that ignores much of the teaching of Jesus (on love, on not condemning others …) THEN it may be associated with other problems such as re-defining forgiveness so that it no longer relates to the teaching of Christ.
As has been said before a danger facing these strong supporters of PSA is that they are teaching salvation by correct belief, a form of salvation by works, when they should be teaching salvation by faith. Get that wrong and so much else will go wrong. You may even find yourself using Scripture to curse those who disagree with you (and huge swathes of the Christians through the centuries at the same time).