Throughout the years, discussions of forgiveness have occurred almost exclusively in religious circles. In the past few decades, however, forgiveness has become a popular topic in contemporary psychology. Unfortunately, there has been relatively little effort to effectively combine theological conceptions of forgiveness with contemporary psychological research.
The Faces of Forgiveness, by theologian LeRon Shults and psychologist Steven Sandage, steps in to fill this void. The image of the face is the motif that integrates the two disciplines. At a basic level the actual human face has elicited a great deal of research on emotions related to forgiveness.
At a deeper level the face can serve as a metaphor for the integration of existential and spiritual longings for forgiveness, wholeness, and salvation. And while theological studies of salvation politely acknowledge forgiveness, the authors argue that forgiveness should take a central role, not only because it is warranted by biblical tradition but also because it more adequately engages our postmodern context. Shults and Sandage offer here a model for understanding and practicing forgiveness that integrates psychology and theology, focuses on the importance of relationality, contemplates the hermeneutics of the face, and delineates the ways in which the term "forgiveness" is most commonly used.
While forgiveness has historically been regarded as a religious concern, it has also become a popular topic in contemporary psychology. Unfortunately, there has been little effort to combine a Christian understanding of forgiveness with psychology. The Faces of Forgiveness, winner of the Narramore Award from the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, steps in to fill this void.
The authors fuse Christian forgiveness and psychology with the unifying motif of the face; thereby building on the considerable psychological research linking emotions related to forgiveness with the human face. At a deeper level, the face can serve as a metaphor for integrating forgiveness, wholeness, and salvation. The authors argue that forgiveness should take a central role in our understanding of salvation because it is warranted by the Bible and engages our postmodern context.
Pastors, psychologists, family counselors, and students of psychology and theology will find The Faces of Forgiveness a helpful resource.
F. LeRon Shults (Ph.D., Princeton University; Ph.D., Walden University) is professor of theology at Agder University in Kristiansand, Norway, and the author of several books, including Reforming the Doctrine of God and Reforming Theological Anthropology.
Steven J. Sandage (Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University), a licensed psychologist, is the Albert and Jessie Danielsen Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Theology at Boston University and director of the Danielsen Research Center at the Danielsen Institute. He coauthored To Forgive Is Human.
Shults and Sandage are the coauthors of The Faces of Forgiveness, winner of the Narramore Award from the Christian Association for Psychological Studies.