One of the best books I read this past year was Volf’s Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. It’s an incredibly stirring and convicting work on the power and prominence of forgiveness within the Christian community. Dr. Volf argues that we’re at our human best when we give and forgive. But we live in a world in which it makes little sense to do either one. In our increasingly graceless culture, where can we find the motivation to give? And how do we learn to forgive when forgiving seems counterintuitive or even futile? We must look to the God who gives abundantly and who forgives unconditionally.
Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School , Miroslav Volf is one of the most respected living theologians. He is author of dozens of scholarly articles and ten books including his most recent, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. As a native of war-ravaged Croatia and son of a father who endured unspeakable torture at the hands of concentration camp guards, Dr. Volf understands more than many about the horrors of indiscriminate brutality. He also understands the unforgiving heart that can often result from living through such trauma. Despite his experiences, Dr. Volf has spent decades building a theological legacy of forgiveness, generosity, reconciliation, and nonviolence.
Here’s a terrific lecture given by Volf at Calvin Seminary in January ‘07 – Free of Charge (right click, save as). If God is fundamentally a gift giver (which he most definitely is), why, of all people, are Christians typically such lousy forgivers? Prepare to be challenged as you listen to Dr. Volf’s lecture.
Also, here’s an interview with Volf in Calvin Seminary’s Inner Compass interview series: It’s not always easy to trace the motives for the gifts we give. Where in our hearts do they come from? Might we look there too for one of the greatest gifts--that of forgiveness for a harm done? (listen now [.mp3 12.6 Mb])