EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an extract from Unpacking Forgivness by Chris Brauns. (Crossway)


Introduction: The Forgiveness Quiz

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. – Psalm 119:18

The Forgiveness Quiz 

Let’s start with a quiz. I know the idea of a pop quiz may trigger unpleasant memories. But quizzes can serve noble purposes. I hope to accomplish two things with this one. First, it is a discussion starter. You probably will not agree with all my answers. That is okay. General Patton said, “If everybody is thinking alike, somebody isn’t thinking.” Let this pop quiz start some thinking.

The second purpose of this quiz is to anticipate where this book is headed. Think of this forgiveness quiz as an aerial preview. If you are like me and you skip around when you read a nonfiction book, this quiz will help you skip directly to the section of the book that interests you.

See how you do. You should be able to complete this in the time it takes to hum the theme from Jeopardy! You are on the honor system. No looking ahead. For the sake of those around you, hum the Jeopardy! theme softly.

The Forgiveness Quiz—Questions

1. True or False

Where deep wounds between people are concerned, forgiveness can be unpacked in a moment.

2. True or False

Personal happiness and joy can legitimately motivate people to live out what the Bible teaches about forgiveness.

3. True or False

Most Christian pastors and counselors agree about what forgiveness is and how it should take place.

4. True or False

Forgiveness occurs properly only when certain conditions are met.

5. True or False

Jesus said little about how people should resolve interpersonal conflict.

6. True or False

A willingness to forgive is a test of whether or not a person will go to heaven when he or she dies.

7. True or False

Good people get to the bottom of all their disagreements.

8. True or False

There are times when it is wrong to forgive.

Where I Come from as an Author

Before we grade your answers to the Forgiveness Quiz, let me share two things about where I come from in writing this book. First, I write as a pastor involved in people’s lives. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent working through complex forgiveness questions with people in my churches. On the day I am writing this, I have listened to two different women with broken hearts. I sat across the table and hurt with them and prayed and watched small piles of mascara-and tear-soaked tissues build.

Looking back across the years I can recall images of so many tired, wounded people. I think, for instance, of my friend Deb (not her real name). When I first met Deb, she was grieving the loss of her only son who had died at the age of seven after a long illness. She was devastated.

In the midst of losing her son, Deb discovered that her husband was involved with pornography. His addiction eventually destroyed their marriage, and they were divorced. Soon after, Deb’s former husband was tragically killed in an accident.

Can you imagine? Her son died. Her marriage fell apart. Her former husband died. Consider the emotionally charged, complex forgiveness questions that Deb faced.

  • Should Deb have forgiven her husband even though he was not repentant?
  • How could she know whether he really was repentant?
  • If Deb was able to forgive her husband, would that mean she should not have divorced him?
  • How about after her husband died? Would it be appropriate or easier then for Deb to forgive him?
  • What about her anger and grief over losing her son? No doubt, at points Deb even struggled with anger towards toward God. How should she have handled her anger? Should Deb have forgiven God?

I believe the answer to the last question, “Should Deb have forgiven God?” is an emphatic no! That God should be forgiven implies that God may have done something wrong. Many disagree and would not hold to my negative view of the idea of forgiving God. Arguably, the most influential Christian book written on forgiveness in the last fifty years contends that it is acceptable and even healthy for people to “forgive God.”1 I will have more to say about this in Chapter 5.