Chapter 6 - Forgiveness
This chapter looks at a subject closely related to last month's "Commerce and Banking" installment: Forgiveness. While Christianity's general philosophy lies on this bedrock principle, to see forgiveness in an economic context is intriguing. Modern bankruptcy law institutionalizes forgiveness of loans for instance, as does the practice of forgiving the loans of nations, forgiveness of credit card loans, etc.
Trump himself has benefited greatly from such practices going way back, including the forgiveness of his $500,000,000 to the bondholders of his Atlantic City casino in the 1980's. He has even bragged about his numerous bankruptcies and their qualifying nature for his presidency. That's what this series tries to do; to see Trump in light of the economic lessons of the Gospels.
On a more personal level, Trump has famously stated that he doesn't think he has asked God for forgiveness though he is a Presbyterian and practices holy communion.
Whether Trump is the "forgiving kind" would seem a complicated topic. He certainly appears pragmatic on the practice.
Forgiveness seems like a rather quaint concept that has little reality in a business or economic context. But forgiveness of debts is commonplace, as well as the pragmatic practice of companies and individuals “wiping the slate clean” after lawsuits and civil proceedings are settled. Lawsuit today – partnership tomorrow.
Turn the Other Cheek
While turning the other cheek is difficult on its face, companies and individuals in business do it all the time. Few economic entities take things personally. It is also normal for countries and large economic enterprises to turn the other cheek, so long as there are economic payoffs in doing so.
Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 5:39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.
Give Him Your Coat Also
This passage takes things a bit further as modern practice goes. Few, if any, will pay more than negotiated for. Trump certainly thinks America is getting a bad deal in most of its dealings with its world economic partners. And New Yorkers in general never like to pay retail - especially perhaps, coats.
Matthew 5:40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also.
And Forgive Us Our Debts
This passage from the Lord’s Prayer is also translated differently into sins and trespasses. Perhaps it’s not so much that we ask to be forgiven as the statement that we have forgiven others.
6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.
If You Do Not Forgive Others
Here the Gospels put some meat on the bones regarding the requirement to forgive others. Forgive or else.
Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave
Matthew 18:23 “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 18:24 As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him. 18:25 Because he was not able to repay it, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. 18:26 Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.’ 18:27 The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt. 18:28 After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins. So he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ 18:29 Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ 18:30 But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt. 18:31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had taken place. 18:32 Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! 18:33 Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ 18:34 And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed. 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.”