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Renowned Christian author Timothy Keller offers readers a comprehensive, practical guide for understanding why the acceptance and practice of forgiveness is crucial to living the God-directed life. Keller asserts, “The human need for forgiveness appears to be indelible. It won’t go away by denouncing it or trying to deconstruct it. The need I’m referring to is both a profound need to grant forgiveness and to receive forgiveness.” 

But what exactly is forgiveness? Defining it is imperative, Keller asserts, since “false understandings of repentance and forgiveness … are spiritually and socially fatal.” Keller explores the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35) to help readers understand the true and full meaning of forgiveness. He points out that in the person of the king in the parable, God did four things: “He brought the man before him, but then took pity on him, forgave the debt, and released him.”  

Keller goes on to ask, “What is it that enables God to forgive us so radically even though he is holy and just? What is it that enables us to forgive others so radically by giving us the inner resources of supernatural humility, confidence, love, and joy? It is the atoning death of Christ on the cross.” 

Besides defining forgiveness and pointing to the power of Christ in us to restore us to God and to offer forgiveness to others, Keller explores themes such as the history of forgiveness, the fading of forgiveness in secular culture, what we need in order to forgive, forgiveness practices, the difference between true and false guilt, reconciliation practices, and the relationship between God’s love and justice.  

Recommended as an excellent resource for small groups, though the book doesn’t include discussion questions. (Viking)

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