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Forgiveness and Reconciliation Critique Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 20th, 2019

Though psychologists view forgiveness and reconciliation as being different entities, religious theologians particularly Christians view them as being synonymous. As a result, this research paper is a critique of the article ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation: the Differing Perspectives of Psychologists and Christian Theologians’ by Nathan R. Frise, Mark R. McMinn, in the journal ‘Psychology and Theology’.

The aim of this article is to bring out different views expressed by Christian theologians and psychologists concerning the issue of forgiveness and reconciliation. However, the article’s intention is not suggesting which discipline is right, or the one that is wrong. Its intention is just identifying existing differences between the two schools of thoughts, with the aim of promoting scholarly dialogue that is very integrative concerning the issues of forgiveness and reconciliation (Frise & McMinn 2010).

According to Zeno Jonahs, a catholic priest, forgiveness is considered as restoring love bondage as well as communion in case of a conflict or rapture. As a result, reconciliation is a factor purposing forgiveness. In case of forgiveness, then individuals should be ready for reconciliation.

He defines reconciliation as being an action of forgiveness. When combined, reconciliation and forgiveness, the result is a very strong relationship, which at the end results to better understanding of one another, hence leading to an intimacy bond that can be considered as being genuine (Zeno, 2011).

Those individuals, who fail to put reconciliation into practice, are pretenders, because, they fail putting forgiveness into practice. Meek and McMinn (1997) insists that, in case someone wrongs you and is still alive or dead, it means nothing. You should just forgive him/her and even pray for those who have wronged you. Individuals should look at what makes them not to forgive and reconcile, it is just fear towards the other. However, it is good to fulfill the promise of forgiveness by reconciling.

However, Govier (2002) argued that, though forgiveness and reconciliation are linked, but they are different. He defines reconciliation as a way of restoring trust in a relation that had ruptured. In this act, Govier insists that the two people have to be involved apart from contributing to a particular solution.

On the other hand, forgiveness is only given by the party which was wronged. He insists that, forgiveness and reconciliation mean two different things, as after forgiveness, it is not a must that reconciliation should follow. In addition, even in the absence of reconciliation, forgiveness alone is very important as it releases the pain of feeling bitter.

Tavuchis, (1991) states that, it does not imply that after reconciliation, forgiveness will occur, or has occurred. People involved in particular action might just assume that such a thing didn’t happen. Implying that, though the conflict happened, but it does not affect their connections.

This depends on the parties capabilities in handling matters like this. This method is very helpful particularly in avoiding other credible relations. Nevertheless, this method depends on the fact that as time goes healing occurs. However the problem is, in case of a similar act, memories and pains will just be reactivated automatically. Hence Jones, (1995) adopts the issue of forgiveness describing it as being a lifestyle which people have to consider before reconciling.

The ethical aspects of the Study

The author of this article didn’t deceive his respondents in away as they have not stated other functions of this research apart from the one stated. In safeguarding the participants, the researcher sent them research invitations through emails, to ask for their consent to participate in this research.

This ensured that participants are aware of what they intend to participate in. In addition, by sending personally addressed emails, and using the link to access the questionnaire, the researcher was trying to ensure information confidentially, as well as participants’ privacy. This in one way or the other was respecting respondents’ right, as no unauthorized person will access personal information filled in the questionnaire. In addition, the researcher ensured that, data being collected was relevant to the research topic alone.

According to Meeker William and Luis “confidentiality refers to better ways through which respondents’ data/information will be handled, managed or disseminated as part of research” (Meeker, & Luis). In doing this, the researcher ensured that, the hyperlink provided provides enough confidentiality throughout the research.

Another step was through anonymity. The names of respondents remain unknown. In the questionnaire, the researcher didn’t request respondents to indicate their names. In addition, when reporting results or even discussing them, the researcher ensured that there is no name appearing.

In handling informed consent, the researcher sent research invitation emails to intended individuals. In doing so, those who replied to mails meant that they were ready to take part in the researcher and were aware of what they were going to do. In addition the personally addressed emails described the study and requested them to participate.

In addition this is the reason as to why debriefing participants was of great significance. However, in the procedure and methodology, the researcher has not stated whether the institutional review committee or any other ethics review committee approved the research process. During participant selection, there was neither coercive nor undue influence. This is because, the researcher choose participants depending on research questions.

Strength and Limitations of the Study

Cost and time effectiveness; due to the fact that the study was based on the internet survey, there was no need of moving from place to the other in the name of distributing as well as collecting questionnaires. As a result, the cost of transport and time were saved.

Availability of literature; as stated in the literature though the area of forgiveness is new in the field of psychology, but there is enough literature to cover the study. So the topic is new, but with the availability of literature, we are assured that there are enough materials for the study.

With this assurance, then there is understanding that worthwhile work was done in this study. In addition, availability of literature helped the researcher of this study to choose the best content, methodology as well as conclusions of other researchers. With this in mind, the researcher understood the contexts of his specific objectives.

Many researchable topics; due to the fact that the forgiveness topic is new in the field of psychology, it means that there is still many specific objectives for the researcher to research on. This implies that, the area is still young; as a result, the field has not yet been exploited fully. This gives study room for further studies.

On the other hand, there are also limitations, for instance need for experts. For this study to be carried out online, hyperlinks have to be created, and this needs experts in web design or even technology, who might not be found easily, and if found, they might charge more money. In dealing with this the researcher should learn hyperlink developing.

Target groups; due to the fact that the survey was online, it means that only those who can access computers and internet were selected in the sample, while those lacking the opportunity to access such facilities were left. In dealing with this limitation, the researcher would have also distributed questionnaires to individuals having no access to computers and internet. Also lay men were ignored in the study only experts and academicians were considered.

Correlation findings; since this study entails relating factors, it is very difficult for any variable to be predicted by the use of another variable. This study ignores casual relations existing between variables. In dealing with this the research should ensure that some variables are controlled just like what happens in experimental kind of research where we have controls to determine third factors affecting the relation of variables.

In this study, the researcher ensured that interpretations are consistent with results. This is because, through interpretation, the author explained patterns as well as trends showed by results. In supporting his interpretations the researcher related his data with scientific ideas found in literature. However, it would be good if the researcher could have used graphs and charts. This would have aided much in assisting data presentation in the interpretations.

In the study, most of the generalizations made are warranted based on the sample used. This is because, the sample selected is a representative of the population under study. However due to lower response rate in the first study, there might be unwarranted generalization. The author also offered practical implications of this study. He states that, the study aims at igniting integrative debate to sharpen the two disciplines with the target of helping people who are willing to forgive interpersonal offences.

The author recognized limitations of the research. Such limitations were particularly as a result of sampling plan, where the sample was not a representative of the population. Also, there are some limitations on the questionnaires where the questionnaire did not allow democratic consensus. As a result the researcher should include focus group and in-depth interviews to ensure democratic consensus.


For this study, quantitative approach proved to be the best. This is because; the approach generated quantitative data which can be analyzed rigorously by the use of quantitative methods in rigid as well as formal ways. In addition, since the aim of the study was to find a relationship, then qualitative approach is the best in determining relations between variables. In addition, the methodology used was justifiable because it was cheap, time saving.

This study is a cross-sectional kind of study as its aim is to compare and contrast individuals’ perceptions. These studies are very important particularly in outlining factors of interest as they are in a particular population, regardless of time length (Mitchell & Jolley, 2001).

The number of points of data collection used by the researcher is not appropriate. This is because; the number of respondents is too small to generalize such results to the whole population. In addition, the researcher should have also included Christians who are neither theologians nor experts to analyze their views.

The research design was within subjects. The first study dealt with differences between psychologists and Christian theologians. However in selecting samples, psychologists from different faculties and departments were selected, but all selected participants endorsed Christian views. On the other hand, theologians from different bible study schools and departments were also selected. The second study dealt with experts having publications in the field of forgiveness. As a result, the study was determining different views within Christians.

It is very hard to validate this study externally. This is because; the sample size used in the study particularly in the first study threatens external validity of this study as it induces selection bias possibilities. However to some extent, the study holds some degree of external validity, due to this diversity of the sample. In addition, participants in the first study have the ability of trainers and progenitors in their fields hence have high influence in the society as a result, their opinions might be used in generalizing the population.


The sampling plan was adequate as it included diversified participants from different faculties, departments and schools. The sampling plan only included influential individuals in the society; hence their opinions might be used in generalizing the population under study.

However, depending on the research objective, the sample size was too small; hence it will not be of great help particularly in increasing precisions and accuracy to ensure that results are reliable. As a result the obtained data will not project the thoughts of the whole population under study. This sample size will also increase sampling error.

Though in the study the sampling plan has been enhanced by diversifying participant expertise, knowledge, age and race, but the researcher can do better by increasing the sample size to represent the population under study.

In the study, there are some sample biases. For instance, there are unrepresentative samples. This is because; the sample is not a representative of the population under study. This is because, the study contains undercover sampling, where members are not represented well as some populations are very few.

In addition, there is exclusion sample biasness. This is because; those theologians and psychologists lacking access to computers and internet were excluded from the study. In addition, lay men people were also not included in the study (Brewer, 2000).

The researcher clearly outlines dependent variables (DVs). Due to the fact that the degree of religious commitment was being varied from more religious to less religious, and theologians, then it is a dependent variable. In addition, since the field of study varied from psychologists to theologians from different schools, faculties and departments, the field of study was a dependant variable. However, the independent variable was religion, as even psychologists had to be those endorsing Christian views.

Primary methods of data collection were employed in this study; this is because the study used questionnaires. This technique was chosen because it is cheap, saves time, and data collected through questionnaires are easy to analyze. Moreover, this method collects data in a standard way hence more objective.

The method used in estimating reliability in this study is single administration method. Under this method, the technique used by the researcher is split half method by treating two studies in an alternate form. However, this is was not enough, because, the halves would have been stepped up by spearman’s-brown prediction formulae, which was not conducted in the study Meeker & Luis (1998).

The report states that the researcher chose academicians because they are involved in training as well progenitors in their fields, hence involve in the transmission of their opinions to other people. However, the report does not state whether the process of data collection was a proved by any ethics review committee, hence, its validity remains questionable. This is how the report provides validity measures.

During data collection; the researcher placed undue burdens on participants by giving questions which are not open to democratic discussions. This is as noted by one respondent in the study. This means that, the questions were closed, limiting respondent’s expression. However, physical coercion was not placed on any respondent. As a result, respondents did not state their opinions as they feel it should be, but depending on how the question asked them to.

Data analysis

In the second study the first three questions addressing negative feelings, release of revenge urge and fostering goodwill feelings towards the offender showed no significant differences between the two groups. This meant that, there were very high chances that such statistics occurred by chance.

In the first study statistical tests vary depending on the question. There are questions which statistical tests are significant while others are non-significant. This indicates that, statistical tests that are non-significant obtained such data through lack, while those having significance means that lack occurred in obtaining such results is very little.

Last but not least the authors of this study presented results which are related to research questions and research hypothesis. This is because, for every question, the author has indicated how the results were, and how significant were they (Brewer, 2000).


Psychologists view forgiveness and reconciliation as having different meanings, religious theologians particularly Christians view them as being synonymous. This research paper is a critique of one research that was conducted to identify differences in perception of psychologists and Christian theologians. As a result, though there were some limitations in the study, but generally the paper handled the research topic very well.


Brewer, M. (2000). Research Design and Issues of Validity. In Reis, H. & Judd, C. (Eds) Handbook of Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Frise R, & McMinn, R. (2010). Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The Differing Perspectives of Psychologists and Christian Theologians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 38(2): 83-88.

Govier, T. (2002). Forgiveness and Revenge. London: Routledge Press.

Jones, L. (1995). Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Meek, K. & McMinn, M. (1997). Forgiveness: More than a Therapeutic Technique. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 16(2): 51-61.

Meeker, W. & Escobar, A. (1998). Statistical Methods for Reliability Data. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

Mitchell, M. & Jolley, J. (2001). Research Design Explained. New York: Harcourt.

Tavuchis, N. (1991). Mea Culpa: A sociology of apology and reconciliation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Zeno, J. (2011). Beyond Forgiveness to Reconciliation. Retrieved from:

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