When people ask for the title of one book they can read on the subject of interpersonal Christian forgiving, this is the book I recommend. The author writes from a Christian perspective and is sensitive to modern therapeutic insights. He conveys many valuable insights on forgiving, and seems very much in touch with people's everyday concerns.
The author maintains that there are three stages of forgiving: Rediscovering the Humanity of the Person Who Hurt Us, Surrendering our Right to Get Even, and Revising Our Feelings. I find this book practical, frank, and easy to read. Of the books I have read thus far, this one comes closest to my own personal views on interpersonal Christian forgiving. Lewis Smedes is the author of many books and Senior Professor at the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. .
This very popular publication, commonly found on newsstands, is Smedes' earlier work on forgiving. The author sees four stages of forgiving: We Hurt, We Hate, We Heal Ourselves, and We Come Together.
Though I consider his later book [listed above] more seasoned, this book explores a variety of interesting issues related to forgiving. The author's writing is upbeat and he makes considerable use of imagery and metaphors which will stimulate any preacher who reads this book. This book does not propose that one should always forgive and forget. A former student of Dr. Smedes, relayed to me Smedes' comment in class, that the title for this book was chosen not by himself, but by his publisher.
This book has been highly recommended by a number of people on our Forgiveness Forum Message Board who are dealing with infidelity. The book is divided into three sections:
(1) Reacting to the Affair: "Is What I'm Feeling Normal?"
(2) Reviewing Your Options: "Should I Stay or Leave?"
(3) Recovering from the Affair: "How Do We Rebuild Our Life Together?".
This book has a lot to offer. However, I would caution people about its section on forgiveness, which I do NOT agree with. The author writes: "Forgiving is a two-person process; you can't forgive those who refuse to acknowledge and redress the harm they've caused you..." I strongly disagree with this view, for reasons I have noted elsewhere on this web site. I think the problem is that the author does not differentiate between forgiveness, reconciliation, and reunion, as I do. She lumps them all together. The author often uses the word "forgiveness," where I would use the word "reconciliation" or "reunion." And yes, the latter two do require a two-person process. This book is also available in cassette tapes.
The author takes a close look at the process of interpersonal forgiving, based on interviews with
seventy respondents, all of whom forgave something they first considered unforgivable. The
author views forgiving as a rational, non-mystical process which involves six phases: Naming the
Injury, Claiming the Injury, Blaming the Injurer, Balancing the Scales, Choosing to Forgive, The
Emergence of a New Self.
Religion is given only minimal consideration. Nonetheless, I found this to be a fascinating, well-ordered analysis. It offers many stimulating insights and exercises about the process of interpersonal forgiving. The author also looks at forgiving and non-forgiving in a larger social context. Beverly Flanigan is a clinical professor at the School of Social Work University of Wisconsin, and a therapist in private practice specializing in forgiveness.
She has also authored another book on self-forgiveness.
The author's view of interpersonal forgiving is deeply influenced by A Course in Miracles, published by The Foundation for Inner Peace. Human self-worth, seeing beyond the limits of another's personality, and the extension of love to others are emphasized, as well as the value of setting boundaries. The author sees six stages in the healing process of forgiving: Denial, Self-Blame, Victim, Indignation, Survivor, and Integration.
In addition to a number of helpful insights and exercises on forgiving, this book has a gentle, reassuring quality to it which adds to its overall appeal. One chapter is entitled "Forgiveness, God, and Grace." Robin Casarjian is a Boston-based therapist. She founded and directs the Lionheart Foundation which teaches self-development and forgiveness in public schools and prisons.
This book maintains that there are six stages in the healing process of interpersonal forgiveness: Denial, Self-Blame, Victim, Indignation, Survivor, and Integration. Intended to be a self-help guide, this book contains a number of exercises. The authors explicitly reject the view, held by some Christians, that forgiving is a moral obligation. Otherwise, religion is little mentioned. Nonetheless, I found this to be a helpful book with many worthwhile insights.
Sidney Simon has authored many books, including Values Clarification. He is a professor of psychological education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Suzanne Simon coordinates the Incest Survivors Support Group at the University of Massachusetts' Every Woman's Center. The authors have conducted many forgiveness workshops.
This book contains inspiring stories of forgiveness which come from the author's own experience. Each story is followed by the author's comments for reflection. Many of the stories could well be told in sermons. Robert Libby is an Episcopal rector and former Director of Episcopal Radio and Television for the National Council of the Episcopal Church.
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