Thursday, June 27, 2013

Radical Forgiveness by Brian Zahnd

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.

(Note: this book was originally published as Unconditional? By Charisma House in 2010.)

Brian Zahnd is the author of two previous books. He and his wife live in St. Joseph, Missouri, where they pastor Word of Life Church.

Passio, 226 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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