One way to embrace the evildoers would be simply "to act as if their sin was not there", as John Milbank has suggested in Theology and Social Theory. Jesus on the cross would then be our model. Like him we would say of the perpetrators, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing". In an act of sheer grace, justice and truth would be suspended, and reconciling embrace take place. We seriously misconstrue forgiveness, however, if we understand it as acting "as if sin was not there". More significantly , whereas the suspension of truth in an act of forgiveness is meant to help create a new world, a world without deception and injustice. Suspend justice and truth, and you cannot redeem the world; you must leave it as it is. Acting "as if not" in the face of sin might indeed anticipate heaven in which there will be no sin, as Milbank argues. However, the price of such anticipation is abandonment of the world to the darkness of hell; the world will remain forever awry, and the blood of the innocent will eternally cry out to heaven. There can be no redemption unless the truth about the world is told and justice is done. To treat sin as if it were not there, when in fact it is there, amounts to living as if the world was redeemed when in fact it is not. The claim to redemption has degenerated into an empty ideology, and a dangerous one at that.I haven't read all of the Milbank book yet (and reading the first hundred pages makes me wonder how many who applaud it actually has), but this criticism of Volf's seem to me to be very apt. I wonder if this is in fact the major division line within modern theology, oh sorry, that is post-modern: between those who feel the gospel should work towards to redemption of the world and those that don't.
Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, p. 294.
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