Reclaiming Forgiveness

Reclaiming Forgiveness

the theology and practice of biblical forgiveness

In my writing, speaking and travelling, there is probably no topic that has generated more discussion, concern, and ‘aha’ moments than forgiveness.

Forgiveness is at, or near, the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And yet, there is probably no Christian practice that is so misunderstood and misapplied.

This series is about reclaiming the theology and practice of biblical forgiveness. The hope is that you will receive a deeper, richer, and more enduring understanding of what it means to forgive others as God forgives.

You can click here for the first post in this series, "Reclaiming Forgiveness." You can click "NEXT" at the end of each post to go to the next one in order.

As an alternative, here are the episodes in the order in which they were presented – simply click on the title to go to the post:

1.  Reclaiming Forgiveness

2.  Confusing Love and Forgiveness

3.  Forgiveness Illustrated  

4.  Forgiveness Distorted

5.  The Therapy of Love

6.  Love is Active

7.  Destination of Forgiveness

8.  The Map of Forgiveness

9.  But what about ...?

10. 6 Relational Breaking Points

11. 4 Practices When Loving Hurts

12. Bold Love

13. R is for Change

14. 4 Dynamics of Repentance

15. Why Homologeo Matters

16. Why confess to God?

17. 7 Qualities of Genuine Confession

18. 4 Qualities of True Forgiveness

19. Two Responses to a Forgiveness Dilemma

20. When Forgiveness is Withheld

21. Restitution: What is it; Why it matters

22. 2 Questions About Restitution

23. The Truth About Resitution

24. I can't forgive myself

25. Why reconciliation is important to you

26. 5 Habits of Highly Forgiving People

27. Conversations Toward Discovery

If you find these posts helpful, share them with others who will benefit.

Feel free to write to me at jmacdonald@outreach.ca or using the 'Contact' form.

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Photo credit: "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt (ca. 1669).

Conversations toward discovery

In the last decade or so, my discussions about the nature and practice of forgiveness have been lively. It’s amazing how often the subject comes up.   Probing A conversation might be around a... View

5 habits of highly forgiving people

Forgiveness is at or near the heart of God. It is difficult to name a subject more important to the life of Christians. And yet, it is troubling to see how poorly followers of Jesus understand... View

Why reconciliation is important to you

  Karl Barth (1886-1968) was perhaps the most influential theologian of the 20th Century. On reconciliation, he wrote: To fail here is to fail everywhere. To be on the right track here makes it... View

I can't forgive myself

“God may have forgiven you, but you’ve got to forgive yourself.” How many times have you heard this homespun wisdom? What does it mean? What does the Bible say about it? Is it good advice or just... View

The truth about restitution

Restitution. We’ve described it as repentance in action. We then fleshed out some aspects of it in “2 questions about restitution.” Its goals: to make the ‘victim’ as whole again as possible, and... View

2 questions about restitution

  "Restitution: what it is; why it matters" triggered lots of great questions.    For context, we explored earlier the gift of a new beginning called repentance. We then wrote about confession as... View

Restitution: what is it; why it matters

When was the last time you thought about restitution?   It's probably been a while, if not longer. So, let’s explore the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of restitution.   A tale of restitution He told... View

When forgiveness is withheld

  He knew he was wrong and he told her. But no matter what he said or did, she refused to forgive him.   I’ve heard this tale too many times. The injured person will not forgive you – even after... View

Two responses to a forgiveness dilemma  

Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005) was a Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter. In his book, The Sunflower: on the possibilities and limits of forgiveness, he recounts a dilemma about forgiveness. This... View

7 qualities of genuine confession

What is confession? Confession is a crucial stage in the process of true forgiveness. As we have read, it’s that point at which “shams are over and realities have begun.” Confession is the deep,... View

Why confess to God?

David blew it big time. Afterwards, he wrote a psalm revealing the turmoil of his heart. Psalm 51 is there for all to see. I puzzled over his words to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned... View

Why homologeō matters

What on earth is homologeō? More to the point: "Why should I care?" Two good questions.   What is homologeō?  Homologeō is, as you've probably guessed, a Greek word. It's used more than 25... View

4 dynamics of repentance

In the previous post, repentance was described in terms of a change of mind, emotion, and will toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ.  How does repentance work in our lives?   4... View

'R' is for change

Can you guess what it is?         It begins with 'R' and has either six or ten letters. It's not normally spoken in polite conversation.  At the mention of it, people usually recoil.   Still... View

Bold love

You're standing in cold water up to your waist. Your arms are wrapped tightly against your chest as you resist the plunge into the cold.  Diving in takes boldness. To me, that image evokes... View

4 practices when loving hurts

When another person breaks relationship – cutting you deeply and stepping way over the line – what are you to do?   Consulting our map for forgiveness, you orient yourself in your journey toward... View

6 relational breaking points

If forgiveness is the process of rebuilding damaged or broken relationships, what damages or breaks a relationship? You're probably already aware of these six relational breaking points. Here's a... View

But what about ... ?

Recently, I was with a wonderful group of people. The question was asked, “What about when Jesus says, ‘forgive them’? Doesn’t that mean we just have to forgive everyone without condition?” Good... View

The map of forgiveness

Recently, I was in a foreign country for the first time. I usually knew where I was and where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how to get from 'here' to 'there'. Once I consulted a map, I was... View

Destination of forgiveness

For most, a journey means travelling to a destination. The 'journey' of forgiveness has a destination. Not all reach the destination. Nevertheless there is a desired goal or result. What is that... View

Love is active

How do you experience relief, even healing, from the unpleasant emotions and burdens that flow from a damaged relationship? Many ‘therapies’ are proposed. Perhaps one of the most dangerous is... View

The Therapy of Love

Recently, someone spoke about his experience of deepening despondency and self-recrimination. He realized he was totally centered on himself and what others thought of him. The advice he was... View

Forgiveness distorted

What do you understand and practice when it comes to forgiveness? Before launching into an exploration of real or true forgiveness, it’s worthwhile asking yourself the question. Have you embraced... View

Forgiveness Illustrated

  Before relating a great story, let me reinforce our starting point.   'Therapeutic forgiveness' Our modern western culture markets a product it misrepresents as ‘forgiveness’, or ‘therapeutic... View

Confusing love and forgiveness

Love and forgiveness are often confused with each other. The confusion results in loss.  The accompanying photo illustrates this confusion. Substituting a wrench for a hammer, or vice versa, is... View

Reclaiming Forgiveness

What is your understanding and practice of forgiveness?  How you answer this crucial question impacts your relationships. It also reveals your grasp of the Gospel. Many discussions about... View