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Among psychologists, forgiveness and reconciliation are typically viewed as separate constructs. This distinction is often adaptive, making it possible for a person to forgive a deceased offender or to forgive without entering back into a dangerous relationship. But to what extent does this privatized and secularized view of forgiveness conflict with the religious construct of forgiveness that many clients and their religious leaders may hold? Two survey studies are reported here. The first assessed the opinions of academic psychologists and Christian theologians regarding the distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. The second survey assessed the opinions of expert psychologists and Christian theologians who have published books on the topic of forgiveness. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed that psychologists are more inclined to distinguish between forgiveness and reconciliation than Christian theologians. Implications are discussed.


Originally published in the Journal of Psychology and Theology, 38, 83-90.

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