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Q & R: Forgiveness

Here's the Q:

On Palm Sunday and Easter evening, PBS aired a series titled Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate. There were several compelling stories of forgiveness offered and forgiveness withheld.

Then I looked ahead. On September 11, 2011, the Revised Common Lectionary reading is from Matthew 18:21-35! What an alignment! Peter wants to know how often to forgive, 7 times? Jesus responds with not 7, but 77 times! Then Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. How do we deal with this text on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks?

Then there was the Osama bin Laden "kill." Many celebrated his death. Others, such as yourself, invited us to think more deeply about his death.

I come into contact with so many people who struggle to forgive at a personal level. Then I wonder the role of forgiveness at a global level.

The book Amish Grace described how a community forms people for forgiveness, although with some weaknesses in their practice, too. Yet I think my faith community has a "log in their eye" when it comes to forgiveness so I'm hesitant to be overly critical of the "speck" in Amish eyes.

So... do you have any good book recommendations or resources dealing with forgiveness from a solid Christ, psychological, and sociological grounding? What about "spiritual formation" in forgiveness?


Here's the R:


Thanks for this question. I'll be preaching in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 11, so this gives me something to think about in preparation.

The first books that come to my mind are by Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace, and Free of Charge. I linked to Miroslav's comments on the bin Laden death in yesterday's "monster" post. I also recall a book that helped me many years ago by Myron Augsberger, A Time to Confront/A Time to Forgive was the title, I think.

On the spiritual formation dimensions of forgiveness, I would hope that parts of my book Naked Spirituality would be important. I talk about our need for a "confession of hurt" to correspond with our "confession of sin."

Maybe on my facebook page folks will offer other suggestions?

Thanks for raising this important topic.