Identificational Repentance

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Identificational Repentance


Identificational Repentance differs from repentance in general in that it has nothing to do with salvation. Rather, it deals with the effects that past sins (usually from past generations) still have today. It is based on the Biblical examples of Nehemiah 9 and Daniel 9 where we find long confessions of the sins of the fathers, with the assertion "We and our fathers have sinned."

Identificational Repentance is usually part of reconciliation initiatives, such as the North America examples between blacks and whites, and between native Americans and whites. Similar processes have also occurred in Europe - where Christians confessed the sinfulness of atrocities committed in the context of the Crusades and the Reformation/Counter Reformation - and in the twentieth century, the evils committed by Germans and Austrians during the Nazi regime.

Some Christians believe that there are negative spiritual influences which linger in places where great evil has been committed and that Satan has some special hold on such places. Confessing these great evils as sinful breaks this hold and permits God to act in a greater way.

Even Christians who do not hold with "territorial" spiritual influences, however, recognize that the collective memory of great injustices done to our forebears, as well as the collective memory of the heroic acts of our forebears, are at the foundation of many of today's conflicts between nations and peoples, as well as between churches and denominations. By recognizing that our forebears "heroism" was perhaps not as innocent as our patriotic historians present it, we open the way to forgiveness and healing.



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