Forgiving those who have hurt us is one of the biggest hurdles for anyone – including Christians. Chris Brauns book will touch some tender buttons, especially for those who have been seriously hurt or abused by others, whether through words, or physically.
Brauns takes us through a scriptural journey of forgiveness, its biblical definition, how we are to forgive and how we are to cope with those who hurt us and are yet unrepentant.
Braun’s key definition of forgiveness is a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.
We are to forgive as God forgave us. One of the points that Brauns makes early on is that forgiveness is dependant upon repentance – you cannot forgive until the one who has done something against has repent. God’s forgiveness is dependant on those who repent.
I understand Braun’s point and agree with it. However, I would have liked him to have unpacked more the connection between forgiveness and loving your enemy. By definition, an enemy has not repented – but Jesus calls us to love our enemy – to pray for them and to do good to them. Can we do such things WITHOUT having forgiven our enemy first, even in our own heart?
One thing Braun’s does make clear – Christians should respond in two ways to unrepentant offenders – #1 – resolve not to take revenge; #2 – proactively love.
Also, Braun makes an interesting claim on pg 145. He argues that forgiveness is dependent upon repentance. But what about Jesus on the cross – Father forgive them says Jesus. He writes:
Jesus did not forgive them. If you think carefully about this passage, you will see this is the case. Jesus prayed that those who crucified him would be forgiven in the future – he did not thank God that they were already forgiven. If they had already been forgiven, such a prayer would have been superfluous.
Mmmmm. Not sure about that. I need to give that some thought.
However, overall this is a very useful book.