Wes Daughenbaugh. 21 Ways to Forgive: Plus Nine Reasons We Must Forgive. Redemption Press, 2016. See here to buy the book.
Wes Daughenbaugh is a teacher and an evangelist, whose ordination is with the Assemblies of God. In this book, Daughenbaugh presents nine reasons that people must forgive, followed by 21 suggested ways to forgive. There are illustrations throughout the book that have a Mad Magazine sort of style.
The assets of the book are many. The illustrations help drive home Daughenbaugh’s points. The book also has stories in which Daughenbaugh demonstrates that he knows of what he speaks from personal experience and struggle. The insights make sense. They encourage people to move on from bitterness, to do good to others so as to have other memories besides negative ones, and to hope that God will use the offender for God’s benevolent purposes, as God used the apostle Paul, who had persecuted Christians.
Overall, the book backs up its insights with Scripture. There are biblical passages that discuss the health benefits of having a positive attitude rather than an attitude of envy and bitterness, and passages that encourage people to put away bitterness. One of Daughenbaugh’s thoughts was uncomfortable, yet he did cite Scripture in support of it: he said that unforgiveness could land a person in hell, citing Matthew 18:21-35 for support. In some cases, Daughenbaugh made somewhat of a leap, even though aspects of his point are plausible, from a Scriptural perspective. I think of his recurring argument that our pain is treasured in heaven, and God may draw from that deposit to show mercy to the offender or the offender’s descendants, such that the offender can bless others. I can think of no Scripture that explicitly presents that scenario, but the apostle Paul is an example of a wrongdoer whom God used to bless others. (Daughenbaugh also acknowledges that God may send judgment.) Sometimes, Daughenbaugh does not support his thoughts with Scripture but rather with anecdote: he says, for example, that we should not rebuke the devil because that could draw demons to us.
There were cases in which Daughenbaugh offered an interpretation of Scripture that was new to me. For instance, according to Daughenbaugh, when Paul said in Philippians 3:10-11 that he wants to be like Christ in his death, he meant that he wanted to die “without angerness, bitterness, or self-pity.”
Daughenbaugh writes from a certain perspective, one that is charismatic. He believes that God has spoken to his heart, offering him guidance and insights in certain situations. He also seems to believe in temporal blessings and curses, on some level, which are related to forgiveness and unforgiveness. (At least that was my impression, and I am open to correction.) That made the book interesting to read, even if I am unsure about the extent to which I agree or disagree. Granted, Jesus does appear to connect the faith that moves mountains with forgiveness in Mark 11:22-26. There are passages in the New Testament epistles about bitterness being conducive to Satan’s activity, and about the devil somehow influencing or working in people. But I wonder if there are other (or additional) ways to interpret those passages than what Daughenbaugh presents.
In terms of suggestions that I have, the book did omit an aspect of interpersonal forgiveness that occurs in Scripture, and that is confrontation of the offender (see Leviticus 19:17; Matthew 18:15). Daughenbaugh did well to highlight Scriptures that exhort people not to start quarrels or to insult others (i.e., Proverbs 17:14; Ephesians 4:29), and, indeed, that raises an important question: How can we rebuke without telling a person off? Daughenbaugh should have wrestled with this question. To his credit, he did present ways to develop an attitude of love and compassion towards the person who offended. But there are cases in which a person may be nice and helpful towards a person, while hating that person inside of his or her heart, making the outward love fake. In such cases, confrontation may be helpful and healing, provided it is done right.
Another suggestion: Daughenbaugh should have offered some suggestions about how a hurt person can go out and love and help others. That is not intuitive to everybody. At the same time, Daughenbaugh did tell a good story about how this particular insight (i.e., spiritual warfare by loving others) worked in his own life.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash. My review is honest!