I recently read Miroslav Volf’s Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace and wanted to post a few thoughts as I found it a really rich book on several levels.
The book is dividing into two sections. As the title suggests – the first half focuses on giving and the second half focuses on forgiveness. I would say first of all – the first 3 chapters as a theology of giving is one of the best and maybe the best Scriptural and theological grounding of giving that I’ve come across.
The dynamics of giving, receiving, taking, and exchanging are covered in this section in a way that explores giving through the overall Biblical narrative. So Volf grounds giving and receiving in the doctrine of creation and the image of God. He also explores the depth of how sin and the fall corrupts loving giving and receiving in ways that provide a strong critique of the many ways we manipulate each other in community and even seek dominance as one community over an other.
The forgiveness section is also very well done and is framed on top of Volf’s work in the 1st half of the book on giving. I had not thought about forgiveness through this lens before, but I found it powerful for reflection and thought. Understanding the giving and receiving dynamics and sides of forgiveness are crucial to developing an ethical practice of peace and reconciliation and restoration.
Volf’s personal background and history as one who has experienced great loss and has had to struggle through these themes at the deepest of levels brings credibility and power to the reading. This is a book I’ll keep coming back to in the future both personally and for teaching. The kindle version is only $5 too 🙂