Apology and Forgiveness as an Expression of Love in a Charismatic Congregation


  • Michael Wilkinson Trinity Western University
  • Peter Althouse Southeastern University




Toronto Blessing, soaking prayer, forgiveness, racial reconciliation, altruism, Godly love


Catch the Fire Montreal is a French-speaking Charismatic congregation that has recently become one of several church plants associated with the Toronto Blessing. The congregation is committed to spreading the values of Catch the Fire, especially its vision of knowing the Father’s love and sharing it with the world. During two separate site visits we heard about the congregation’s mission work in Africa, where the pastor shared the message of the Father’s love and ultimately felt led to apologize publicly to the Africans for racism and colonial practices perpetuated against them. He also apologized to the African and Haitian members in his own congregation, asking for their forgiveness. Drawing upon the sociology and theology of love, this article explores the relationship between experiences of love and forgiveness, and benevolent acts as expressions of love. We employ the “Godly love” model as a lens through which to understand Charismatic experiences of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation where love is potentially a transformative social and religious act.


Johnson, Rolf M. 2001. Three Faces of Love. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press.

Lee, Matthew and Margaret M. Poloma. 2009. A Sociological Study of the Great Commandment in Pentecostalism: The Practice of Godly Love as Benevolent Service. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

Macchia, Frank. 2006. Baptized in the Spirit: A Global Pentecostal Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Nygren, Anders. 1953. Agape and Eros. New York, NY: Macmillan.

Oliner, Samuel P. 2008. Altruism, Intergroup Apology, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation. St Paul, MN: Paragon House.

Oord, Thomas. 2010. Defining Love: A Philosophical, Scientific, and Theological Engagement. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

Poloma, Margaret M., and John Green. 2010. The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism. New York: New York University Press.

Poloma, Margaret M., and Ralph Hood, Jr. 2008. Blood and Fire: Godly Love in a Pentecostal Emerging Church. New York: New York University Press.

Post, Stephen G. 2003. Unlimited Love: Altruism, Compassion, and Service. Philadelphia, PA: Templeton Foundation.

Singer, Irving. 1984. The Nature of Love: Plato to Luther. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Sorokin, Pitirim. 2002 [1954]. The Ways and Power of Love: Types, Factors, and Techniques of Moral Transformation. Reprint with introduction by Stephen Post. Philadelphia, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.

Weber, Max. 1958. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Captitalism. Translation by Talcott Parson, with introduction by Anthony Giddens. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Wilkinson, Michael. 2010. “Public Acts of Forgiveness: What Happens when Churches and Governments Seek Forgiveness for Social Sins of the Past?” In Martin M. Mittelstadt and Geoffrey W. Sutton (eds), Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Forgiveness. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock: 177–98.

Wuthnow, Robert. 1991. Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

— 1993. “Altruism and Social Theory.” Social Service Review 67(3): 344–57. http://dx.doi. org/10.1086/603994

— 2000. “How Religious Groups Promote Forgiving: A National Study.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39(2): 125–39. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0021-8294.00011






How to Cite

Wilkinson, M., & Althouse, P. (2012). Apology and Forgiveness as an Expression of Love in a Charismatic Congregation. PentecoStudies, 11(1), 87-102. https://doi.org/10.1558/ptcs.v11i1.87