Restoring Relationships
The Importance of Forgiving and Being Forgiven

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© 2001 Ralph A. Gwinn

McDougal Publishing, Hagerstown, MD

1. Forgiveness Religious aspects Christianity
2. Reconciliation Religious aspects Christianity
BV4647.F55G885 ~ 234.5 ~ OCLC: 50949270 ~ 119p.

Restoring Relationships is presently held by 4 libraries including Nyack College and Taylor University.

To my wife Maureen, with thankfulness for the richness of our years together

Table of Contents

About the Author / Back Cover of the Book

Acknowledgements       7

Foreword by Earl F. Palmer       13

Introduction       15

1. Beginning the Quest       17

2. Prerequisites to Forgiveness?       33

3. The Goal of Forgiveness       61

4. Justice and Forgiveness       87

5. Continuing the Quest       107

Bibliography       117

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Back Cover of the Book

"In the process of becoming like Christ, there is one essential element that is often overlooked. Because we never get to the place where we no longer sin against God and against one another, forgiveness is essential to maintaining forward motion. In a very real sense, each of us is God's 'great work,' and He continues to work to make us better likenesses of Christ, both as individuals and together as the Body of Christ. But God's 'problem' is that we aren't always as eager for that likeness as He is, and so we drag our feet. Some people even refuse to let Him start the process with them. This book is an attempt to help us understand what is involved in forgiveness, with a view to enriching our lives with God and with one another."

Ralph A. Gwinn            

Rev. Ralph Gwinn: Remembering a life of adventure and reconciliation

By Cathy Thwing (daughter) and Doug Gwinn (son)

   “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:18)

   Transformed by the love of God as a young man, Dad became a life-long adventurer and reconciler! He was born on May 2, 1920, the third son of Gardner and Marguerite Campbell Gwinn. His mother died of complications from his birth, and so he lived his first months with his maternal grandparents until his father remarried. Dad grew up in a bustling family of 8 children in a house their father built, still standing at the entrance to Lake Forest Park. The quietest of the 8 children and an avid reader, Dad’s brothers and sisters used to beg, “Mom, make Rafie come out and play cops and robbers with us."

   He attended Lake Forest Park Elementary, Roosevelt High, Prairie Bible Institute and Seattle Pacific College. During a college conference at The Firs two life changing events occurred. First, his entire self image was transformed by the realization that Jesus lived in him, therefore, he was of great worth to God. Second, he noticed Maureen Liddell in a new way, although they were acquainted in Oral Expression Class at Roosevelt. These two experiences transformed his life and freed him to live a life of risk and adventure for God and people.

   College was interrupted by World War II. Dad chose to become a pilot and flew for the Transport Command delivering planes and later for the Ferry Command over the Pacific, delivering materials to the front and bringing the wounded home.

   Following the wedding and the conclusion of the war Dad returned to SPC, serving as Student Body President his senior year (Campaign slogan- “Grin with Gwinn and win!”). He graduated in 1947; Cathy was born that summer; and in the Fall dad launched another great adventure – he joined the first class of a brand new seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. Upon graduation he took his family to Edinburgh, Scotland where food was still rationed in 1950 following the war and where he studied towards his Ph.D. in New Testament at New College, University of Edinburgh. Here, as at Fuller, several important and treasured life long friendships were formed. There was also a great sadness, the birth, and death one day later, of daughter Jennifer.

   Returning to the states Dad was ordained as a pastor by Seattle Presbytery and became pastor of Quilcene Presbyterian Church on the Olympic Peninsula, hoping to complete his dissertation on the side. That didn’t happen.

   After completing the dissertation and serving briefly as organizing pastor of Cottage Lake Presbyterian Church, he accepted a position at Knoxville College, a Presbyterian African American college in Knoxville, Tennessee, as professor of Bible, New Testament Greek, Philosophy and Humanities. For seven years we lived on the campus, the only white family in this African American neighborhood, during that period of American history we call the Civil Rights Movement. Dad had a particular ministry with a group of students preparing to be pastors; they came to call themselves the “Sons of the Prophets.”

   The college administration called on Dad’s gifts of reconciliation frequently to go down to the city jail and bail out students arrested in sit-ins.

   The summer of 1964 Dad moved from the frying pan into the fire, and we went to live in the Middle East where he taught for five years at another Presbyterian College, Beirut College for Women in Beirut, Lebanon. There, he navigated yet another culture, proclaiming an accurate and enticing gospel to a sometimes hostile audience and bringing his heart for reconciliation to the huge conflicts in that part of the world.

   Moving from a cosmopolitan international city of a million in Beirut to a Midwest cornfield with 2100 people, Dad accepted a teaching position in 1969 at Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri. This was the pinnacle of Dad’s and Mom’s ministry to students through “Seekers” the Christian fellowship group they started.

   At 60 years of age (the summer of 1980) Dad resigned his teaching post and without a job to go to returned to Seattle so that he and mom might take care of Meme, his mother-in-law, for the last years of her life. They moved into Meme’s home, cared for her, dad totally rebuilt the 1920’s kitchen and looked for new opportunities for ministry.

   He became a counselor at Burden Bearers. He served three interim pastorates for Seattle Presbytery, at Westminster, Overlake Park and Rose Hill, returning later to Rose Hill as pastor of congregational care. Upon retirement, Dad became a Parish Associate at UPC, his home church, assisting with congregational care and worship.

   Early in his career Dad hoped to teach in a seminary. While his vision was not realized in the manner he expected, his heart for pastors found expression in influencing several college students towards pastoral ministry and being a mentor to younger pastors. In his later years he was sometimes called a “pastor’s pastor.”

   Dad enjoyed carpentry throughout his life. Among his achievements are the manse in Quilcene, Meme’s kitchen, cradles for his grandchildren and revolving bookcases, all built by hand with minimal use of power tools.

   Throughout his life of adventuresome service to the Lord and people, Dad played a reconciling role, both in his family and in his professional life. Although a person of strong convictions and principles, he maintained relationships with people from all perspectives. He chaired faculty meetings on occasion when animosity was too great for the college administration to do so; and as previously mentioned, he bailed students out of jail in the middle of the night. Not surprisingly then, this ministry of reconciliation culminated in his 2001 book on forgiveness, Restoring Relationships.

   The last years of Dad’s life were devoted to caring for Mom through her cancer and Alzheimer’s, and in the last year, navigating his own recurrence of cancer with grace and humor. He approached his hospice care as a new opportunity for ministry, sharing his book, his favorite passages of Scripture, words of wisdom, love and encouragement with his caregivers and visitors.

   Although death, cancer, and dementia are the antithesis of God’s plan, we have experienced the truth of one of Dad’s favorite passages, Romans 8, “…nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The only prayer always answered in the affirmative is not, please remove or deliver us from this or that, but that the name of Jesus be lifted up and glorified! And that has happened!

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