Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Forgiving and Forgiven

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Forgiving and Forgiven

Article excerpt

Forgiving and Forgiven. By L. William Countryman. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1998. 134 pp. $10.95 (paper).

The subject of "forgiveness" is rather in vogue these days, with a number of new books appearing from a variety of Christian sources, including the theological (David Blumenthal, Facing the Abusing God), the pastoral (David Augsburger, Helping People Forgive, and Marie Fortune, Sexual Ethics for the Rest of Us), and the biblical (Pamela Cooper-White, The Cry of Tamar). To this growing literature must now be added the fine new contribution of Bill Countryman, professor of New Testament at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley.

Countryman manages to blend the three approaches mentioned above into a highly readable book which addresses forgiveness as both a spiritual and practical issue. The author offers four ways to cultivate forgiveness, each of which is designed to avoid the denial, re-victimization, simplistic platitudes, and guilt so typical of much of the older literature on Christian forgiveness. Forgiveness is defined as a responsive process rather than an act, deed, or obligation. Forgiveness begins with self-healing, including naming and expressing the anger which so often accompanies shame. As those seeking to forgive grow in their understanding of the graceful generosity of God's love, their conversion of heart will with time lead them to join the extraordinary flow of love which characterizes God's caring, a forgiveness offered to all even before they know it is needed. In this manner, Countryman presents a book which is both theologically and psychologically sound, the true meaning of pastoral theology. …

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