Helps readers move beyond the wounds and baggage of bitterness, disagreements, and broken relationships.
"True or false: most Christian pastors and counselors agree on what forgiveness is and how it should take place." This question is part of Chris Brauns's Forgiveness Quiz that draws readers into his book and gets them thinking about the subject of forgiveness. The truth is, pastors and counselors disagree profoundly on this subject. Unpacking Forgiveness combines sound theological thinking and honesty about the complicated questions many face to provide readers with a solid understanding of biblical forgiveness.
Only God's Word can unpack forgiveness. The wounds are too deep for us to find healing on our own, and the questions are too complex to be unraveled by anything but the wisdom of God. This book goes beyond a feel-good doctrine of automatic forgiveness, balancing the beauty of God's grace and the necessity of forgiveness with the teaching that forgiveness must take place in a way that is consistent with justice.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: The Forgiveness Quiz
1. How to Begin Unpacking
2. Motivation to Unpack
3. Defining Forgiveness: The Divine Pattern
4. Defining Forgiveness for Christians
5. More Than a Feeling
6. The Way Up Is Down
7. Unpack with Great Urgency
8. Should I Just Get Over It?
9. How Should I Go about It?
10. What if I Won’t Forgive?
11. How Should I Respond to the Unrepentant? – Two Principles
12. How Should I Respond to the Unrepentant? – A Third Principle
13. How Can I Conquer Bitterness?
14. How Can I Stop Thinking about It?
15. What If Christians Cannot Agree?
16. Final Thoughts
Appendix 1: More Forgiveness Questions
Appendix 2: What Other Authors Say about Conditional Forgiveness
Appendix 3: Biblical Words for Forgiveness
Chris Brauns is senior pastor at the Congregational Christian Church of Stillman Valley, Illinois. He earned his MBA from Northern Iowa University, MDiv from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has studied and spoken extensively on the topic of forgiveness.
"Offenses will come. It's a given. Unpacking Forgiveness wisely prepares us for the aftermath. Grieving the loss of our six children in a van accident and then being reminded of that loss throughout thirteen years of subsequent battles forced us to search the Scriptures concerning the issue of forgiveness. Chris not only has confirmed answers that we had found but has thoroughly sorted out what it takes to be right with God and man. This is a diligent work with heart." — Scott Willis
"Forgiveness of one another is one of the most important subjects in the Bible, and yet one so often misunderstood. Now Christopher Brauns has done a magnificent job in helping us understand the true nature of biblical forgiveness. Every Christian will profit from reading and applying this book." — Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness
"There is no more common or urgent pastoral need in the church today than to cultivate the gospel practice of forgiveness. Christians need to know what the Bible teaches and live it out, radically. Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds is an engaging, convicting, but emphatically encouraging treatment of this hugely important (and sometimes mind-bogglingly challenging) part of life. Dr. Brauns writes from the standpoint of a faithful, wise, experienced, and caring pastor who has seen the heartbreak of an unforgiving spirit at work in the lives of people, but also the power of grace in the hearts of Christians who have learned to forgive and be forgiven." — J. Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
"There are few things more unnatural and few things more holy than forgiveness. Living as we do in a fallen world, we are given endless opportunities both to extend and to seek forgiveness. In Unpacking Forgiveness, Chris Brauns eschews the easy answers and looks to the Bible to provide God's wisdom on how and when we are to forgive. Relying on his experience as a pastor and his deep knowledge of Scripture, he provides what is a logical, well-illustrated book on the subject. With humor at times and appropriate gravitas at others, Brauns leads the reader first to understand and then to apply what the Bible teaches on forgiveness. Because it deals biblically with a subject of universal importance, any reader can benefit from reading Unpacking Forgiveness. I recommend that you do just that." — Tim Challies, blogger, Challies.com; author, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment