A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Comments on Steven Tracy’s Book – Mending the Soul

My pile of books on forgiveness continues to grow.  I am gathering the data to do a biblical study on the subject so that abuse victims can be set free from so much of the nonsense floating around our churches.   We really are not clear on forgiveness.  Pretty strange.   I pick up a book, I read some of it, I put it down.  “Well, that guy is all messed up too,” I tell my wife.  How can I tell?  Is it that I am just soooo brilliant and way, way far ahead of these authors?  No.  Well, in one way, yes.

I know about abuse.  I know more than they do. I am learning about its mentality and its tactics.  And that is how I know they are wrong in what they are teaching about forgiveness.

Then I picked up Steven Tracy’s book, Mending the Soul  [*Affiliate link], Zondervan, 2005.  The tenth chapter is about forgiveness.  This is not primarily a book about forgiveness, but about abuse.  And guess what?  Lo and behold, the guy who gets forgiveness right is the guy who specializes in abuse!  This is evidence that my theory is correct – abuse is the test case for much of our theology.  Tracy is wise to the abuser.  No way is he going to insist that the Bible will have reconciliation of the victim and the abuser included.  He warns about the abuser’s crafty and deceptive repentance, and notes that Christians and churches are very often sucked in by him.

I still have to read the rest of the book.  But I suspect it is going to be a good one.  An author who gets forgiveness right is someone who gets my attention.  This book is worth buying if only for the 10th chapter.

Many thanks to Steven Tracy.  Visit him at Mending the Soul

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link


  1. Right On, Jeff! Fully agree with you.

    To add to your “forgiveness” resources, we have an exellent sermon on our Resources list, on the ‘What does scripture really say? page. The sermon is called What Forgiveness IS and What It Is NOT.

    In this sermon Pastor Bob Kerrey explains what forgiveness is and what it is not. The sermon was originally titled “Breaking Barriers to Intimacy with God: Overcoming Unforgiveness” but Ps Kerry has given permission for us to apply a different title to it so we have given it a title that will be more engaging for survivors of abuse.

    Here are links to the pdf and the audio of that sermon.

    [These links are broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]

    Everything Kerrey says can be applied to cases of abuse.
    The sermon carefully explains and distinguishes the different aspects of forgiveness:
    – judicial forgiveness
    – psychological forgiveness
    – relational forgiveness
    And best of all, it tells us what forgiveness is NOT. That’s most important for victims of abuse.

    Similar teaching on forgiveness to that by Ps Bob Kerrey can be found in chapter ten of Steven Tracy’s book, Mending the Soul, which we have on the books section of our Resources.

  2. Renewed Spirit

    Random question – all the examples of abuse in Scripture – I’m thinking of Joseph and his brothers in particular. And the outcome. Help me understand if that was not abuse. I wonder if the key point is equipping people how to respond to abuse – Joseph was used by God for so much restoration! |Thoughts?

    • Joseph was definitely abused by his ten older brothers. Joseph didn’t trust his brothers when they came to Egypt, and he tested them severely over time, putting them under pressure to see whether their attitudes had changed. When they (or Judah on behalf of the ten) gave sufficiently strong evidence that they had changed, Joseph revealed his identity to them and they were reconciled.

      That narrative has a great deal to say about abuse. However, while a biblical narrative can show us a lot about a certain topic, we must never think that the narrative sets down laws or doctrines for how believers must behave and think.

      Narrative does not lay down biblical precepts and laws for godly living. Doctrine is declared when the Bible clealy states a law or precept for godliness — by God or his prophets saying “You must do this; you must not do that.” Doctrine for godly living is expressed in imperatives where God speaks through His prophets and apostles in Scripture. Imperatives are DO THIS! statements. Orders from God. Commands from God.

      Take home point: Narratives often illustrate and confirm doctrine, but they do not establish it.

      • Renewed Spirit

        Excellent points! Appreciate your response.
        I realize the narratives concept – yet we can definitely learn from the wisdom found in them; which I believe you pointed out well in the fact he tested them…

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: