Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds: A Book Review

unpackingcoverUnpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns

“I write with the firm conviction that only God’s Word can unpack forgiveness.”

As I work through my Biblical Counseling Certification I have found many areas where I have been taught wrongly when it comes to Biblical exegesis. Forgiveness is one of those areas. In my quest to understand, for which I am still wrestling towards, Pastor Brauns’ book has been a valuable resource.

Throughout Pastor Brauns’ book he asked readers questions…a lot of questions. Being someone who believes asking questions is one of the most efficient ways of learning as well as teaching, I appreciated his style of writing.

While reading Unpacking Forgiveness, I posited one of Pastor Brauns’ questions on social media. I would quickly learn that most Christians have strong convictions when it comes to the area of forgiveness.

The responses were swift and definitive. Mine weren’t. It became apparent this is an area than can be controversial, especially if questioned, making a gentle spirit a necessity to a productive discourse.

An immediate quality to Unpacking Forgiveness is that its title couldn’t be more fitting. Much in the same way we have cheapened grace we have cheapened forgiveness. We have forgotten that repentance is commanded just as forgiveness is commanded.

“Forgiveness – a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.”

This is important for people who have been deeply wounded through abuse, exploitation, assault, betrayal or carrying other heavy burdens where we spit out cliches placing the unbiblical yoke upon them having to forgive an unrepentant individual for soul crushing sins.

Unpacking Forgiveness wades through the unbiblical applications propagated through modern Christendom. One of the more prolific aspects addressed is ‘therapeutic forgiveness vs. Biblical forgiveness’. Easily my favorite chapter.

Pastor Brauns delves directly into relevant issues surrounding forgiveness such as bitterness, vengeance, refusing to forgive the repentant or just getting over it.

Unpacking Forgiveness is replete with insight and application and perhaps, even essential provocation. Is it comprehensive and all inclusive? No, but it’s certainly a profitable primer. And I don’t think Pastor Brauns would disagree simply because of the amount of questions he asks the reader to consider with the hopeful exhortation that they will dig deeper to find the Biblical answers.

I will add a personal caveat for conscience sake. Pastor Brauns uses a plethora of resources through quotes and other citations within Unpacking Forgiveness. There are some resources used in support of his material that I would not recommend; while others, I would heartily recommend. So my caveat, as with any work, is to use discernment and be like the Bereans, just as Pastor Brauns encourages.

“Be like the Bereans. Resolve that you are going to work out an understanding of forgiveness based on the Word of God. You don’t need my opinion or anyone else’s. You need to hear from God. When you work through your personal beliefs about forgiveness, be thoroughly biblical.”

Purchase Unpacking Forgiveness.

Visit Pastor Brauns website for further information and resources.

Other resources for your consideration:

David Murray

Reformation 21


Tim Challies

Alexandra T. Armstrong

Reformed Reader

Julie Ganshow


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