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Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis [Paperback]

By L. Gregory Jones (Author)
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Item description for Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis by L. Gregory Jones...

Forgiveness today is usually construed as too easy or too difficult. Evaluating cheap grace, repentance and judgment, loving enemies, therapeutic misunderstanding, Jones believes forgiveness is not so much absolution from guilt as restoration to communion.

Publishers Description
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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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   332
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.93"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 1995
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Edition  New  
ISBN  0802808611  
ISBN13  9780802808615  

Availability  0 units.

More About L. Gregory Jones

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Sarah Beckwith is Associate Professor, Department of English at Duke University.

L.Gregory Jones is Dean of the Divinity School and Professor of Theology at Duke University.

James J. Buckley is Professor and Chair, Department of Theology, Loyola College in Maryland.

L. Gregory Jones currently resides in the state of North Carolina. L. Gregory Jones has an academic affiliation as follows - Loyola College in Maryland Duke University Loyola College in Maryland.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Soteriology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis?

The Christian Call and Struggle!  Jul 14, 2006
L. Gregory Jones gives us a serious, meaningful, and deep study and dialogue with the Christian call and struggle to forgive. This is no simple forgive and forget just because you know you should type of writing. Instead, Jones wrestles with the idea that pain and evil are realities that cannot be simply glossed over with a cliche' of Christian words and piety. Anyone who is interested in the battle against evil and the answers that the cross of Jesus offers over against this struggle against evil, need to read this book.
Jones engages many dialogue partners in his writings and in so doing tells the stories, biographically, of people who have had profound stuggles with forgiveness in the face of extreme brutallity, violence and pain. For example Jones shares with us the life and struggles of Bonhoeffer against the evil's of Hitler and the Nazi's. This and many other stories are taken up and examined.
Jones maintains that forgiveness is not easy, but what we as Christians are called to embody in practice. One story which he quotes that illustrates this is the story of the Turks who oppressed the Armenian's. This powerful story illustrates the position that Jones essentially takes.
"A Turkish officer raided and looted the Armenian home. He
killed the aged parents and gave the daughters to the
soldiers, keeping the eldest daughter for himself. Some
time later she escaped and trained as a nurse. As time
passed, she found herself nursing in a ward of Turkish
officers. One night, by the light of a lantern, she saw
the face of this officer. He was so gravely ill that
without exceptional nursing he would die. The days passed,
and he recovered. One day, the doctor stood by the bed
with her and said to him, 'But for her devotion to you, you
would be dead.' He looked at her and said, 'We have met
before haven't we?' 'Yes,' she said, 'we have met before.'
'Why didn't you kill me?' he asked. She replied, 'I am a
follower of him who said "Love you enemies." (265-66).

Jones wrestles through various stories, but the one above depicts his own position and that is that Christins are following the one that said for us to love our enemies. We are called to this and Jones suggestion is that we embody forgiveness in life and in practice. This is not a light read, but worth every bit of the struggle. In a day when the so-called Church in America has voices that are crying for war and preemptive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, we need to not only hear the words of Jesus, but build our houses once and for all on the rock, and put his words into practice.
Living in response to forgiven-ness  Oct 23, 2004
Jones' book is a wonderful example of Christian thinking about forgiveness. The book opens with a criticism of two views of forgiveness Jones' wants to counter. The first is "therapeutic forgiveness" which is almost purely psychological, making it a version of cheap grace. The other problematic view is the "eclipse of forgiveness" which supposes that our world is so violent that forgiveness is largely futile and meaninless. In the second part of the book, Jones presents his own views of forgiveness. It begins with the Triune God who reveals himself in the costly forgivenss brought about in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit makes this costly gift known to humans through the church. People can then respond to God's forgiveness. For Jones, forgiveness comes first and repentance is a response to forgiveness. Christians are then to live in response to their own forgiven-ness. In the final section of the book, Jones discusses where the church meets the world and forgiveness is required. He says that Christians must respond to God's forgiveness by hoping that all will one day be forgiven. This forgiveness requires great patience, especially when it comes to enemies. This is a wonderful book. It is highly recommended to Christians who want to understand what it means to live as the forgiven people of God.
Forgive and forget?  Jun 16, 2003
This book explores the idea of and difficulty surrounding forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard. Jones uses illustrations from works such as Simon Wiesenthal's 'The Sunflower', Flannery O'Connor's short stories, Toni Morrison's 'Beloved', and others as integral elements of the theological arguments behind the significance, embodiment and practice of forgiveness.

The cost of forgiveness is high, often too high for most to manage. A lip-service to forgiveness can be stated; a conciliatory tone can be managed in one's mind and practice, but then, often, the deeper emotion of anger, betrayal, hurt, etc., whatever is at the root of the need for forgiveness, can unexpectedly become present once more.

Starting with a discussion of Bonhoeffer, who decried the ideas of cheap grace and cookie-cutter forgiveness models of the church of his time, Jones explores the thorny theological issues which surround what happens in forgiveness.

'For Bonhoeffer, there is no real grace without judgment. Sin cannot be overlooked or forgotten; it must be confronted and judged in the context of forgiveness.'

True forgiveness must confront the hurt and evil face on; it cannot mask it, it cannot overlook it, and of course it cannot truly forget it. Forgiveness as an active process must work through the hurt, and will have a cost, primarily, the cost of letting go of the pain, which often is a sustaining force that helps carry the injured or abused through life.

While forgiveness can work in community, in many cases, such as Wiesenthal's experience with the SS officer or Bonhoeffer's work against the Nazis, forgiveness has to be a personal act, and cannot truly become the act of community. Forgiveness in such cases takes place in relative isolation from the community ('the Body of Christ', in Jones' theology). Bonhoeffer's death shows the cost of discipleship, which embodies both penance and forgiveness, that this is not merely a feeling felt or a decision made, but rather must become a way of life to be lived even in the face of evil and death.

Forgiveness means different things to different people. It is so easy to talk ambiguously about 'sin' and to ask (and grant in others) forgiveness of this 'sin'. But when focussing upon a particular wrong, it becomes enormously difficult. How does one forgive the abusive parent when the parent won't acknowledge the abuse? How does one forgive the church who ignores or abuses you, and carries on with or without you as if nothing had ever happened? Is it meaningful for the church to apologise for 'sins' from inquisitions to suppressions to complicity in genocide in the past, while no one who actually enacted these crimes is still alive, and no real thought is given to modifying current practice to ensure the same is not happening today?

How does one love one's enemies? Who has a right to forgive?

Whether or not one believes in 'sin' (some do not), there is a brokenness in our relationships with each other, and this causes hurtful dynamics, but modern therapeutic practices have tended to relativise and downplay this brokenness (by downplaying the element of judgement, which is required in forgiveness) to the point of making the ideas of restoration in a theological and philosophical sense irrelevant.

Forgiveness is costly, but ultimately, the cost repays dividends. Forgiveness is not easy, and sometimes practically impossible. Some hurts cannot be healed; some pains cannot be eased; no events in the past can be redone. So, it is important to separate the wheat from the chaff, which can require a lifetime--forgiveness in human terms is always a process, a way of life, which requires constant tending to stay the course.

an excellent study into the theology of forgivness  Jan 30, 1999
This is an important work into the theology of forgiveness that presents serious pastoral and ethical concerns for the discerning reader. The method employed by the author, L. Gregory Jones, a United Methodist and associate professor of theology at Loyola Maryland, Baltimore, takes under consideration the grounding theology of Karl Barth and the thomistic emphasis on the learned craft of a living practice of forgiveness.

As a Catholic (trained in a United Methodist seminary at St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri), the subjects treatment raises issues for me of the sacramental rite of penance and its mediation of reconciliation. Although not specifically addressed in this context, Jones questions the efficacy of forgiveness by others without the approbation of victims. Again, the discerning reader may want to consider the pastoral implication this raises.

A well researched and stylized presentation, "Embodying Forgiveness" offers its readers an excellent resource for preaching in a culture which avoids the costly reality of authentic forgiveness. For those who appreciate the model discipleship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jones develops a compatible theological approach of reconciliation by virtue of the costliness and hard word required of a life which `embodies forgiveness.'

And lastly, forgiveness is presented in the framework of the triune God whose self giving love is established in communion with us who have been created for that unique purpose. Truly, we have here a worthy pursuit of the reader's time for those willing to grapple with its unsettling message.


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