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Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds Paperback – September 23, 2008
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"Offenses will come. It's a given. Unpacking Forgiveness wisely prepares us for the aftermath. Grieving the loss of our six children in a van accident and then being reminded of that loss throughout thirteen years of subsequent battles forced us to search the Scriptures concerning the issue of forgiveness. Chris not only has confirmed answers that we had found but has thoroughly sorted out what it takes to be right with God and man. This is a diligent work with heart."
"Forgiveness of one another is one of the most important subjects in the Bible, and yet one so often misunderstood. Now Christopher Brauns has done a magnificent job in helping us understand the true nature of biblical forgiveness. Every Christian will profit from reading and applying this book."
—Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness
"Here is a book that lives up to its title. Forgiveness remains a distant dream for many people precisely because they don't know what it means, where to begin or what to expect. Blending contemporary stories with the teaching of the Bible, Christopher Brauns unpacks forgiveness so that we can be set free from bitterness. I especially appreciated his emphasis on coming back to the character of God and learning to delight in him as the only way forward when we have been deeply hurt. A book to be read on your knees. It could change your life."
—Ray Pritchard, President, Keep Believing Ministries; author of Credo, Discovering God's Will for Your Life, The Amazing Journey of Faith
"There is no more common or urgent pastoral need in the church today than to cultivate the gospel practice of forgiveness. Christians need to know what the Bible teaches and live it out, radically. Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds is an engaging, convicting, but emphatically encouraging treatment of this hugely important (and sometimes mind-bogglingly challenging) part of life. Dr. Brauns writes from the standpoint of a faithful, wise, experienced, and caring pastor who has seen the heartbreak of an unforgiving spirit at work in the lives of people, but also the power of grace in the hearts of Christians who have learned to forgive and be forgiven."
—J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
"There are few things more unnatural and few things more holy than forgiveness. Living as we do in a fallen world, we are given endless opportunities both to extend and to seek forgiveness. In Unpacking Forgiveness, Chris Brauns eschews the easy answers and looks to the Bible to provide God's wisdom on how and when we are to forgive. Relying on his experience as a pastor and his deep knowledge of Scripture, he provides what is a logical, well-illustrated book on the subject. With humor at times and appropriate gravitas at others, Brauns leads the reader first to understand and then to apply what the Bible teaches on forgiveness. Because it deals biblically with a subject of universal importance, any reader can benefit from reading Unpacking Forgiveness. I recommend that you do just that."
—Tim Challies, blogger, Challies.com
"Using the parameters 'forgive as God forgives,' this book describes something other than a cheapened, 'automatic' forgiveness. Dr. Brauns lays careful gridlines that are 'dripping with Scripture,' as he puts it, for working through complex and deeply painful situations. Unpacking Forgiveness offers a tender hand of guidance to those who ache to unpack what life has flung at them and awakens a longing for the happiness that only forgiveness can bring."
—Shannon Popkin, Speaker, Freelance Writer, Blogger
"In a culture that all too often embraces oversimplistic remedies for forgiveness and reconciliation, Brauns provides a truly helpful and honest discussion about biblical forgiveness. Unpacking Forgiveness will be an essential resource for small groups, students, and ministry leaders (seasoned or newcomers) because it wrestles with the intellectual, emotional, and biblical issues of living in redemptive relationships in a fallen world."
—Peter G. Osborn, Vice President for Adult Learning, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
"Unpacking Forgiveness is a must read for every believer. All my life I was told to forgive, and now Chris Brauns tells me how. This practical and powerful book paints a penetrating picture of the forgiving Christ, my model on how to forgive. I cannot escape the bold and beautiful biblical truths within these pages. As a Christ-follower, I know exactly how to respond to those who have hurt me, and each action response sets me free . . . indeed."
—Doug Fagerstrom, Executive President and CEO, Marketplace Chaplains USA
"Traveling through life cannot be done without 'unpacking forgiveness.' This is as good an explanation on what true forgiveness is and how it is accomplished as I have ever read. All interpersonal relationships and our relationship with God an be helped by reading this book. Unpacking Forgiveness is a compelling read."
—William K. Bernhard, Lead Pastor, Spring Creek Church, Pewaukee, Wisconsin; Chaplain, Milwaukee Bucks
"Biblical, accessible, thorough, and practical, Rev. Brauns builds from the Scriptures a solid model of forgiveness that is clear, engaging, and convincing. He tackles the issues, answers the questions, and provides the guidance needed to forgive even the hard cases in a Christ-honoring way. Highly recommended!"
—John N. Day, Pastor, Bellewood Presbyterian Church, Bellevue, Washington; Author, Crying for Justice
"Chris Brauns has written a twofer. Unpacking Forgiveness not only challenges popular, therapeutic notions of forgiveness, but it also supplies practical, step-by-step instructions for those who aren't sure how to begin. Grounded in Scripture and sharpened by ministry to hurting people, Brauns's godly counsel will inspire many to shake off years of guilt and bitterness and begin the long, healing journey of forgiveness."
—Mike Wittmer, Professor of Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary; Author of Heaven Is a Place on Earth and Don't Stop Believing
"With pastoral realism, biblical conviction, and thoughtful reflection on wide reading, Brauns masterfully unpacks the complexity of Christian forgiveness. His humor and liveliness, with a striking story-telling gift, disarmingly navigate beyond the popular 'therapeutic model' into a deeper understanding of biblical forgiveness. From the opening quiz you know his approach is different, and you will likely find your questions both asked and answered by this powerfully practical book. Taken seriously it will revolutionize your life."
—Michael Quicke, CW Koller Professor of Preaching, Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois
About the Author
Chris Brauns (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor at the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, Illinois.
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Pastor Chris Brauns “unpacks a wallop” with his book about forgiveness. He effectively defines the difference between “giving” forgiveness, and “offering” forgiveness. Chris lays out a great case of scripturally defined forgiveness with specificity and compassion. He emphasize that forgiveness without repentance disregards one of God’s requirements of our own salvation. But reconciliation with God is not only required between us and Him, but between humans as well (Luke 17:3). It is clear that withholding the “offer” of forgiveness to an offender removes the offender’s opportunity to reconcile not only with the offended, but with God. Reconciliation is one of God’s greatest gifts and is not necessarily easy, but essential.
Chris also teaches the reader how we should trust God’s righteousness and justice rather than seek revenge, because revenge hurts us and not the sinner in God’s eyes. But, if the offer or gift of forgiveness (in order to reconcile) is given and not accepted we must pray to God for the person who is not able to see or admit their own sin (Mark 11:25). The contrast between Luke 17:3 and Mark 11:25 illustrates the difference between how we should seek reconciliation with other humans (Luke 17:3), and how we should seek forgiveness from God, and reconciliation with God, for the sinner (Mark 11:25). Chris illuminates God’s perfect model for forgiveness when Jesus is on the cross and provides both of these examples of forgiveness. Jesus prays to the Father to forgive His unrepentant persecutors (Luke 23:34) even though Jesus himself could have forgiven them (as shown in the next example), and then forgives only one of two criminals (the repentant one) who are on crosses next to Him (Luke 23:39-43).
Chris gives many examples of why we need reconciliation, as well as how we should approach reconciliation with others. His wit, humor and insight provide a great read and, more importantly, great advice for anybody who has struggled with forgiveness. Chris offers hope to anybody who has been offended but not sought reconciliation yet, has lost the chance to reconcile (due to the death of the sinner), or who has attempted reconciliation, but the sinner has not repented. Chris’ book is not only about forgiveness, but for healing broken hearts and lives.
This is also a great book for those who simply want to clearly understand, and possibly articulate, the scriptural definition of forgiveness. But regardless of your reason for reading this book, you will learn why God used Pastor Brauns for His purpose within the pages of Unpacking Forgiveness. I, for one, am grateful and blessed that God used Pastor Chris Brauns to help me in my faith. I pray you are equally blessed.