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UNconditional? The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness

BRIAN ZAHND (Charisma House, 229 pp., hardcover)

UNconditional is a clear expression of a pastor who believes that being a follower of Jesus requires some serious reprioritization for the average Christian. From the biblical themes Zahnd chooses to his historical examples, the author reminds the reader that Christianity in America is contributing significantly to its own increased impotence.

The foreword by Miroslav Volf provides a glimpse into why this eminent theologian, with Pentecostal roots, found Zahnd’s book so appealing. Volf describes the book as an urgent summons to give up on consumerism and hostility toward those who differ from us and begin to practice generous and forgiving grace.

This book may cause discomfort to the reader (as it did for me) because it reveals the subtleties of assumptions that American Christians have which they have not critiqued. But far from being some trendy effort at reconciliation and peace that has little biblical substance, Zahnd weaves together biblical theology and its contextual application in a clear and concise manner. Zahnd is thoroughly engaged with such elements as philosophy, film, and literature that become a rich contextual backdrop for his biblically rooted conceptual framework. Zahnd develops the central event of the Cross as foundation for the daunting challenges he delivers to the reader. The juxtapositioning of the power of the Cross and the resulting forgiveness is one of the strengths of this volume.

UNconditional is not an easy read. It will leave you uncomfortable because we all have areas in our lives we need to yield to the spiritual discipline of forgiveness. But if you are ready for a daunting spiritual challenge, UNconditional may be just the book to move you toward new spiritual horizons.

Reviewed by Byron D. Klaus, D.Min., president, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri.

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