Friday, February 8, 2013

Good Books and Resources that Explore Forgiveness

This list is by no means exhaustive but includes some of the best titles that I've encountered on the subject of forgiveness. Most of the books listed here address matters from a Christian perspective with primary authors on the subject listed first (but not in any particular order). Take note of the book lists that already appear here at, listed near the bottom of the page, as well as titles concerning manipulative relationships. Enjoy!

Sandra Wilson
  • Into Abba's Arms: Finding the Acceptance You've Always Wanted  (Chapter 7 discusses forgiveness in great depth, along with the importance of rebuilding one's trust with God as a kind and trustworthy Father. I'm not entirely crazy about the rest of the book, but chapter 7 is worth the purchase. If you liked Quivering Daughter's tender sweetness, you'll love this book.)

David Seamands
  • Healing for Damaged Emotions  (Doesn't specifically focus on forgiveness but is essential reading on emotional healing after great disappointment. A beautiful book and essential reading after spiritual abuse and disappointment.)
  • Healing of Memories  (Concerns how a to cope with debilitating traumatic memories from a Christian perspective)

David Stoop
  • Forgiving the Unforgivable  (Discusses forgiveness of very harmful and deep hurts when forgiveness seems complicated, harmful, if not impossible. Includes situations of sexual abuse and forgiveness of people who are no longer alive.)

David Augsburger
(Offers great insights into forgiveness but may challenge some readers who have been subjected to profound abuse when he defines forgiveness as incomplete without reconciliation. He doesn't merge the two, however, but he does an excellent job at noting the process of grief and the stages of anger that come early in the process.)

Lewis Smedes
A word of caution about Smedes: He approaches things from a Reformed Theology view, but at times, I find that he tends to oversimplify the process. Often in this tradition, in the desire to bring “all thought captive to Christ,” there is a tendency to ignore the reality of what is in favor of an ivory tower view of things. Calvin believed that we needed to just be so full of grace that we should forgive in faith, even if a person didn't repent, and that they would eventually catch up through a miracle that faith in the process brings. Here, I differ with Smedes, much like I do with Nouthetic Counseling and sometimes, with Augsburger, too. We may not ever see the ivory tower experience of the ideal, and if we blindly accept such when we are drowning in the mess of an abusive situation, this approach can do harm. Offering unqualified forgiveness can even be deadly in these cases.
  • Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve  (Explores the reasons for forgiving and the steps within the process. He describes this book as the “menu for forgiving” and notes that “forgiving is a gift God has given us for healing ourselves before we are ready to help anyone else.”)

Corrie ten Boom (see this post for a synopsis)
  • The Hiding Place (and the film)  (Corrie's testimony about how she and her family hid Jews in their home in Holland during World War II and her survival of a German death camp.)
  • Tramp for the Lord  (Her journey through after release from the concentration camp where she was incarcerated and includes stories told by others she met, offering many examples of forgiveness. A powerful book!)

Other Titles by Various Authors
  • Charles Stanley's The Gift of Forgiveness  (Discusses the impact of unforgiveness and the benefits of forgiveness. Appendix B outlines the “Steps to Forgiving Others”)
  • Dan Allender's The Wounded Heart: Help for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse  (Very helpful in addressing forgiveness in sexual abuse but also addresses the need for self-forgiveness and freedom from the self-loathing that accompanies the experience. Can be interpreted in some respects in the way Augsburger's work does, and some sensitive individuals may find this difficult.)

Concerning Manipulative Relationships (includes secular titles)
  • Patrick J. Carnes' The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (Secular book with important ideas about self care, particularly for people who struggle with shame, having grown up in dysfunctional families.  Carnes works in the area of sexual addiction and sometimes draws from that literature when explaining concepts.  The book contains a series of checklists that can help the reader identify areas in their life that make them vulnerable to manipulation through shame.) Lists of Related Recommended Resources

An egghead list:
  • Arendt, H. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.
  • Bash, A. Forgiveness and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Enright, RD. and North, J (eds.). Exploring Forgiveness. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.
  • Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.
  • Griswold, CL. Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Haber, JG. Forgiveness. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1991.
  • Hume, David, A Treatise of Human Nature. New York: Oxford University Press (1740) 1958 ed.
  • McCord A, Marilyn and Robert Merrihew Adams (eds.), The Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • Milbank. J. Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon. New York: Routledge, 2003.
  • Murphy, JG. Getting Even: Forgiveness and its Limits. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Murphy, JG., and Hampton, J. Forgiveness and Mercy. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Pettigrove, G., Hannah Arendt and Collective Forgiving. Journal of Social Philosophy, 2006, 37 (4): 483–500.
  • Rashdall, H. A Theory of Good and Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press., 1924.
  • Scarre,G. After Evil: responding to Wrongdoing. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2004.
  • Swinburne, R. Responsibility and Atonement. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Taylor, G, Pride, Shame, and Guilt: Emotions of Self Assessment. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
  • Walker, MU. Moral Repair: Moral Relations After Wrongdoing. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Zimbardo, P. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. New York: Random House, 2007.