Archives For Forgiveness


A Brief Review of

Unleashing A
Transformational Process
Larry Ellis.
Adoration Publishing Co., 2010.

Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Traphagen.

In Forgiveness: Unleashing a Transformational Process, author Larry Ellis offers no forgiveness for what he calls “innovative forgiveness.” The kind of forgiveness practiced by most Christians today (and taught by too many churches), Ellis charges, is innovative because it departs from the kind of forgiveness taught by the New Testament and the early church. In short, our forgiveness will never be transformational because it is not the radical, unconditional forgiveness Jesus called for and the earliest teachers in his church reinforced.

According to Ellis, the most fundamental characteristics of that kind of forgiveness are that it is to be unilaterally initiated by the offended party and unconditional. While forgiveness is related to other Christian practices such as repentance and reconciliation, it is not dependent upon them. “…reconciliation requires an active participation by the offending party…but forgiveness absolutely does not…Jesus does not require nor even suggest that the offending party plays any part in our forgiving process” (p. 27).  Christian forgiveness must be unconditional because the forgiveness granted us in Christ is unconditional. Ellis will not allow his readers any wiggle room on that point: “To excuse those actions for which there are good excuses is not Christian love, it is fairness. Christian love begins when we forgive the inexcusable part, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in us” (30).

Because we have been raised in a culture which demands that forgiveness be earned, we naturally object to such a radical approach. Ellis anticipates our objections and counters them with convincing biblical evidence. One of the most valuable chapters is one titled “Popular Fictional Myths About Forgiveness,” a kind of FAQ of the “Yeah… buts” that such teaching creates. For example, the author states that granting unconditional forgiveness does not rule out that loving confrontation or intervention may be needed in some situations. In addition, the book contains useful chapters on biblical practices closely tied to forgiveness, such as confession, repentance, and reconciliation, as well as a study guide for groups.

Forgiveness: Unleashing a Transformational Process
is a clear and convincing call to the practice of radical forgiveness. Nothing less than that deserves to be called Christian.


A Brief Review of

A Just Forgiveness:
Responsible Healing Without Excusing Injustice.

By Everett L. Worthington, Jr.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
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Reviewed by Shaun C. Brown.

Everett Worthington, Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, has spent the last two decades studying forgiveness scientifically and clinically.  Worthington has written numerous articles and books, such as Forgiving and Reconciling and The Power of Forgiving, on the subject.  Worthington’s newest work, A Just Forgiveness, continues his research.  Worthington is currently a lay Presbyterian, but says that he has attended churches of numerous denominations.  His theological perspective, as seen in the pages of A Just Forgiveness, has Reformed and Augustinian tendencies.

Worthington deals with forgiveness in concrete situations, such as in stories of patients he has counseled, victims of the Holocaust and Rwanda genocide, and his own struggle to forgive his mother’s murderer.  Throughout A Just Forgiveness, Worthington calls upon Christians to humbly submit to God with a self-sacrificial attitude in the midst of hurt.  His primary argument throughout the book is that Christians can forgive others without being doormats and that forgiveness and justice can and must be held together.  Micah 6:8 serves as the book’s theme passage.

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