Forgiveness and Confession: Some Readings

By Johnny Lin
October 2002

This annotated bibliography was created for the 2002 CLEAR Retreat Forgiveness Workshop, held at YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado, October 11-13, 2002, and sponsored by the Chinese Churches of Colorado.

Foster, Richard J., 1998 [1978]: "The Discipline of Confession," Celebration of Discipline (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 228 pp.) 143-157.

In this chapter, Foster describes the role a community of believers can play in helping each other seek and receive the forgiveness of God.

Lewis, C. S., 1970: "Miserable Offenders," God In the Dock (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 346 pp.) 120-125.

Lewis provides counsel to those who do not "feel" that their sin is "intolerable." His approach is to use our understanding of the sins of others, the "fatal flaws" we see in our friends and family (e.g. jealousy, pride, anger, etc.) to illuminate our own "fatal flaws," that we may be empowered to repent and confess them to God.

Lewis, C. S., 1980 [1949]: "On Forgiveness," The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Collier Books, 132 pp.) 121-125.

A short but brilliant essay that highlights the difference between forgiving and excusing. Lewis points out that often times, for any given offense committed against us, there are some portions of the offense that are excusable and others that are not. It is the inexcusable parts that can only be forgiven.

Smedes, Lewis B., 1996: The Art of Forgiving (New York: Ballantine Books, 178 pp.).

This book concretely, lovingly, and doggedly addresses some of the most common and damaging misconceptions regarding forgiveness and provides practical and accessible advice about how to forgive when it seems impossible to do. Smedes emphasizes that forgiveness and reconciliation are entirely different things and that the first person who is helped by forgiving is the victim. He also outlines three stages in forgiveness: rediscovering our enemy's humanity, giving up our right to revenge, and wishing them well. I have two very minor quibbles with Smedes (regarding whether duty plays any role in forgiveness and whether God can "change" the past), but these points do not detract from the value, wisdom, and encouragement found in this book. I highly recommend it.

Ten Boom, Corrie, and Jamie Buckingham, 1974: Tramp For the Lord (New York: Jove Books). In: Briscoe, Stuart, and Jill Briscoe, 1995: The Family Book of Christian Values (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Christian Parenting Books, 508 pp.) 380-383.

During World War II, Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid Jews from the Nazi authorities in occupied Holland. For this they were sent to a concentration camp where her sister died. This story recounts Ten Boom's struggle to forgive one of the guards from that camp, when he asks for her forgiveness after the war.

© 2002 by Johnny Lin <email address>. This article may not be altered or edited in any way. This article may be reproduced for any legal purpose, as long as it is reproduced in its entirety, and this notice is included.