Forgive by Timothy Keller–Book Review

Timothy Keller’s latest book, like many others he has written, is thorough, spot-on, and completely biblical. In this one he dissects the thorny problem of forgiveness.

Beginning with the history of forgiveness, we learn that this concept was virtually unknown in the ancient world. Most cultures were based on honor and shame. To maintain honor, it was necessary to punish or extract retribution from enemies — to forgive would be to admit weakness. As our society loses the foundation provided by Christian morality, we seem to be reverting to this model, with a twist — now the focus is on victimization. Victims must be avenged at all costs, and everybody seems to be a victim or someone.

Keller does not shy away from the issue of justice — he explains how forgiveness does not mean allowing serious transgressions to go unpunished. He does point out that such punishment should be exacted to protect others and to lead the perpetrators to repentance. Forgiveness and justice can exist together.

He also describes the transactional aspect of forgiveness. When someone sins against us, it creates a debt, and when we forgive we pay that debt ourselves. It may not be a financial debt, but it costs us something. Isn’t that what Christ did for all of us? He provided justice, by paying the debt that we owed to God for our many failures. This should encourage us to extend the same forgiveness and mercy to others.

Finally, there are detailed and biblical instructions about how we are to forgive and if possible, reconcile with others. Different circumstances may require different approaches. At the end of the book, there are a number of very helpful appendices outlining practices to promote forgiveness and reconciliation, and listing biblical texts relating to forgiveness.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I would love to study this book with a small group.

For more books by Tim Keller see these posts:

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller–Book Review

Ministries of Mercy by Timothy Keller — Book Review

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This entry was posted in Christian books and tagged , , , by jculler1972. Bookmark the permalink.

About jculler1972

My husband is the retired pastor of St. Paul's Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, Maryland. I have two grown daughters, three grandchildren and am retired after a career in Purchasing. I have published articles in The Lutheran Ambassador, Lutheran Witness, and Lutheran Digest. My Bible study on the Book of Acts was published in 2016 by the Women's Missionary Federation of the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches).

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