Home  >  Embodying Forgiveness
Share |
Embodying Forgiveness
A Theological Analysis
POD; Published: 8/31/1995
ISBN: 978-0-8028-0861-5
Price: $ 32.50
333 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
Add To Cart
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.

Academy of Parish Clergy, Top Ten Books of the Year (1996)
Christianity Today, Number 15 on the Top 25 Books of the Year list (1996)
Anglican Theological Reivew
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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 contemporary biography and literature enrich the argument and enhance its accessibility to non-specialists, including upper level college students."
Reviews in Religion & Theology (U.K.)
"Extremely readable and tightly argued. . . One of the greatest successes of the book is its use of the resources of core Christian themes in arguing about the everyday practice of Christian life. . . Extremely readable and suggestive . . . an extremely important contribution to current theological writing."
Studies in Christian Ethics
"A profound theological analysis. . . This book should be widely used. It could serve as an introduction to theology and culture or as a textbook for social ethics for an undergraduate audience. It could also be used for seminarians in either an ethics, theology, or pastoral care course."
The Expository Times
"Every so often a book appears which establishes itself at once as a contemporary theological classic. Embodying Forgiveness is one of these. . . This book will enrich and nourish the life of Christian communities in ways that very few do."
The Living Church
"This book is enriched by helpful illustrations from literature, ranging from Flannery O'Connor to Fyodor Dostoyevsky. . . A well-crafted book. I recommend it."
The Mennonite
"Gregory Jones explores the theme of forgiveness in a number of different and engaging ways. . . The appeal of this book lies in the author's willingness to sink his teeth into hard stories. . . Thought-provoking . . . This book is a thorough theological examination of forgiveness, and I highly recommend it."
The Thomist
"This book possesses virtues I have hardly touched on, among them its ecumenical character, its thoughtful approach to Jewish-Christian concerns, and its engaging and often eloquent style. Professor Jones is to be commended for offering a powerful synoptic vision of Christian forgiveness. His book should be read and discussed widely."
Theological Studies
"Refusing to divorce questions of theology and ethics from ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the saints, Jones offers a compelling argument for how Christians ought to think about the moral life. Moreover, he overcomes the tired distinctions of private/public, sacred/secular, by awakening the moral imagination to eschatological, transcendent possibilities. . . A much needed theological proposal for negotiating the recent discussion of forgiveness."
"Ground-breaking book . . . This book is marked by its respectful engagement with various dimensions of theology, culture, philosophy, psychology, and an understanding of human frailty."