I received a copy of Edward F. Mrkvicka’s The Sin of Forgiveness gratis from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. Here are my thoughts on the book.
What is the “sin of forgiveness”? Specifically, it is Ed Mrkvicka’s name for granting forgiveness without encouraging the fruit of repentance in the forgiven. Generally, it is the author’s way of framing the more general issue of the objectivity of God’s Word. Though he doesn’t always deal with them directly, it is clear that the author has in mind social issues like homosexuality and takes aim at them with a more unilateral defense of Biblical objectivity.
This book’s defining quality is almost certainly earnestness. Unfortunately, that earnestness usually comes at the expense of focus and organization. The author makes clear his righteous anger over the contempt many have shown for Scripture by twisting or ignoring it in order to justify sinful and unrepentant lifestyles: “There are few left willing to take the abuse they must endure if they speak God’s truth unabridged.” However his main project—comparing and contrasting righteous forgiveness with what he calls “secular” or “sinful” forgiveness—is hampered by a failure to clearly define the terms until late in the book. The early and middle stages of his argument revolve around repeated condemnations of common practices of sinful forgiveness, but remain largely unmoored without any working definitions of good and bad forgiveness to work as points of reference. In addition, the movement of the book suffers from an overly anecdotal style. Every second or third paragraph is a personal anecdote or real-world analogy. While they were clearly written in to enhance, their frequency only resulted in gumming up an already simple and straightforward message. Finally, his interaction with Scripture was problematic. There is nothing wrong with letting the Bible speak for itself, but he quotes far too much of it without expounding on the passages in order to make it clear how and why he is citing them; the approach added to the already strong impression of loose organizational and rhetorical moorings.
I appreciated the author’s sentiment in so much as he urges his readers to be unwavering and unapologetic in their adherence to God’s law, but I worry that he may inadvertently hamper Christian charity by conflating forgiveness with out-and-out acceptance/justification of sin. I still want to believe that we can practice the one without the other.