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5 Stars Out Of 5
Radical Forgiveness-a Christian's calling
July 30, 2013
When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus called him to radical forgiveness. Jesus ushered in a new kind of forgiveness when he put aside the "eye for an eye" theology of the Old Testament. As Christians, we are called to forgive even when it's difficult and sometimes seems impossible.
Brian Zahnd is blunt about our need to forgive in his book, "Radical Forgiveness". He uses examples from the lives of Corrie Ten Boom and, more recent, the Amish community who forgave the man who killed little girls in an Amish school. They even offered compassion and sympathy to the family of the killer.
Forgiveness is not a popular concept in today's society. Reading the headlines, you will see our world is all about justice and retribution. However, if we, being sinners, were offered total and unconditional forgiveness at the foot of the cross, how can we not offer forgiveness to our fellow men?
Zahnd's book is hard to read, but it is necessary. He pokes you where it hurts and brings to light what we need to deal with as Christians.
Brian Zahnd is the pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging for Books, as part of Charisma's Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Zahnd is concerned that Christianity is in danger of fading into a kind of cherished relic. If Christianity is to be relevant in the twenty-first century, it needs a fresh message. Not something new or novel, he argues, but a return to Christianity's roots.
"If Christianity is about anything," he writes, "it is about forgiveness." (xix)
As Zahnd explores forgiveness, he notes how difficult it can be, how much and how often we are to do it, that it is living in imitation of Christ, its relationship to forgetting, how it affects our happiness in the future, how it goes against many cultures (of revenge), it requires leaving justice in the hands of God, it is the way of the cross, and it means replacing condemnation with mercy.
He writes about the importance of forgiveness to our own welfare as we overcome evil with good. Our story takes a turn when we choose to forgive. Evil is no longer the final word.
His section on justice is thought provoking, arguing that "God interprets justice in terms of relationship and reconciliation, not necessarily in terms of what we might consider fair." (121) Zahnd reminds us, "The cross is where we do not get what we deserve." (126)
Zahnd has included many inspiring stories of people who were obedient and forgave. Many of the experiences were so painful, yet the people forgave.
Zahnd writes that perhaps his main motive in writing this book is "to help recover the true beauty of Christianity as found in forgiveness." (xxi) He has done that well. This is an inspiring book, reminding us to live out the essence of Christianity.
This book is primarily for Christians. But non-Christians will find here the essential core of Christianity, the reality of God's forgiveness as the basis for Christians forgiving one another.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.