Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis
A topic unjustly neglected in contemporary theology, forgiveness is often taken to be either too easy or too difficult. On the one hand is the conception of forgiveness that views it mainly as a move made for the well-being of the forgiver. On the other hand, forgiveness is sometimes made too difficult by suggestions that violence is the only effective force for responding to injustice.
In this exciting and innovative book, L. Gregory Jones argues that neither of these extreme views is appropriate and shows how practices of Christian forgiveness are richer and more comprehensive than often thought. Forgiveness, says Jones, is a way of life that carries with it distinctive concepts of love, community, confession, power, repentance, justice, punishment, remembrance, and forgetfulness.
In Part 1 of Embodying Forgiveness Jones first recounts Dietrich Bonhoeffer's own struggle against the temptation to make forgiveness either too easy or too difficult in his thought and, even more, in his life and death at the hands of the Nazis. Jones then considers each of these temptations, focusing on the problem of -therapeutic- forgiveness and then forgiveness's -eclipse- by violence. Part 2 shows why a trinitarian identification of God is crucial for an adequate account of forgiveness. In Part 3 Jones describes forgiveness as a craft and analyzes the difficulty of loving enemies. He deals particularly with problems of disparities in power, impenitent offenders, and the relations between forgiveness, accountability, and punishment. The book concludes with a discussion of the possibility of certain -unforgiveable- situations.
Developing a strong theological perspective on forgiveness throughout, Jones draws on films and a wide variety of literature as well as on Scripture and theological texts. In so doing, he develops a rich and comprehensive exploration of what it truly means to embody Christian forgiveness.
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About the Author
L. Gregory Jones (Ph.D., Duke University) is vice president and vice provost for global strategy and programs at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He previously served as dean of Duke Divinity School. He also serves as president of leadership education at Duke Divinity, and as professor of theology. His books include Embodying Forgiveness, Transformed Judgment and Resurrecting Excellence.
Lucidly written, catholic in its sensibilities, capacious in its sources, it offers a considerable advance for theological-ethical reflection. . . It is difficult to know where to begin to praise this book. Calvin Theological Journal
This volume is both a thought-provoking challenge to the church's current cultural captivity to what Bonhoeffer called 'cheap grace, ' and a rich source of biblically sensitive material for preaching. Heartily recommended for pastors and other interested cultural theologians. Christianity Today
Thoughtful and wide-ranging book. . . Altogether, this is a highly intelligent, theologically instructive, and deeply reflective piece of work. Church
This book offers theology that is reflective as well as practical and writing that is clear, sometimes even stirring, despite the complexity of the author's thought. Commonweal
This is an imaginative and provocative essay. Jones's argument moves between theological claims which are relatively abstract and narratives of particular incidents which are compellingly concrete. First Things
A bracing polemic against and constructive alternative to 'the therapeutic society.' . . . In this analysis, there is nothing weak or sentimental about forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard work -- Jones calls it a craft -- to which all Christians are called and from which our society has much to learn. Interpretation
This book is more theologically sophisticated and pastorally sensitive than any other book on forgiveness of which I am aware. It is must reading for any pastor, preacher, or spiritual director. Librarians World
Libraries in churches that have thoughtful, intellectual members may want to consider this excellent work. Modern Theology
In this pioneering and creative book, Gregory Jones explores a central Christian doctrine as a public truth, as something to be practised by Christians and embodied in the Church. . . This is doctrinal theology at its relevant best. Jones develops his argument imaginatively with much effective use of narrative, which also serves to earth the discussion in real situations. . . immensely readable and often profound, this book suggests a fresh and challenging way of doing Christian theology. It should be widely read. New Theology Review
Any doubts that L. Gregory Jones is a significant voice in Christian theology today are dispelled by his most recent book, Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis. The core thesis of this remarkable work is that for Christians forgiveness involves much more than a single gesture or even a repentant spirit. . . Jones has written a masterpiece that is compelling and challenging, but also full of hope because his aim is to remind us that with a God who 'makes all things new, ' no situation, however destructive, and no past, however painful, need ever control us. There is no better book than this on a subject that strikes at the heart of life. Beautifully written, carefully argued, and refreshingly substantive, Embodying Forgiveness is destined to be a classic. Pro Ecclesia
A bold but careful analysis of forgiveness and its centrality within the contexts of Christian theology and practice. . . Jones offers a powerful challenge as much to the practices as to the understandings of today's church. . . A must read for every Christian theologian and pastor, though many others will find it richly rewarding as well. Religious Studies Review
This important book seeks to restore forgiveness as a central category for Christian theology and ethics. . . Though primarily a scholarly work, the numerous allusions to scripture and contemporar