Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin

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Not the way it's supposed to be retrieves an old awareness that has slipped and changed in recent decades. The awareness of sin used to be our shadow. Christians hated sin, feared it, fled from it - and grieved over it. But in part because modern society does not encourage moral reproach - particularly self-reproach - the shadow of sin has now dimmed in our consciousness. Teachers, politicians, and other public guardians of morality seek less judgmental descriptions of wayward human conduct. Even preachers, who ...
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Overview

Not the way it's supposed to be retrieves an old awareness that has slipped and changed in recent decades. The awareness of sin used to be our shadow. Christians hated sin, feared it, fled from it - and grieved over it. But in part because modern society does not encourage moral reproach - particularly self-reproach - the shadow of sin has now dimmed in our consciousness. Teachers, politicians, and other public guardians of morality seek less judgmental descriptions of wayward human conduct. Even preachers, who once got visibly angry over a congregation's sin, now speak of sin in a mumble. Sharing Samuel Johnson's conviction that we need to be reminded more often than instructed, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., pulls the ancient doctrine of sin out of mothballs and presents it to contemporary readers in clear language, drawing from a wide range of books, films, and other cultural resources. Plantinga's assumption is that a healthy reminder of our sin and guilt is clarifying and even reassuring. For, unlike some other identifications of human trouble, a diagnosis of sin and guilt allows hope. Something can be done for this problem. Something has been done for it. Plantinga's goal is to present a brief account - a breviary - of the nature and dynamics of sin and to renew our knowledge of a persistent reality. He defines sin as the destruction of shalom, the peace and harmony and blessedness God intended for creation. Creation is no longer the way it's supposed to be. Plantinga describes how sin corrupts what is good and how such corruption spreads. He discusses the parasitic quality of sin and the ironies and pretenses generated by this quality. He examines the relation of sin to folly and addiction. He concludes by describing two classic "postures" or movements of sin (attack and flight). An epilogue reminds us that whatever we say about sin also sharpens our eye for the beauty of grace.
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Editorial Reviews

Steve Schroeder
Plantinga, a professor of systematic theology, calls this book a "breviary." Given the massive historical dimensions of its subject, 207 pages may legitimately be counted as brief; but it is less an account than an argument for a particular understanding of sin as it is intimately connected with a Christian appropriation of "shalom". The book is almost always interesting, often provocative, and sometimes infuriating (as in cheap shots at political correctness and modernism, largely irrelevant crowd-pleasers for a generally conservative audience). Plantinga's insistence that sin is a theologically and philosophically relevant category deserves serious consideration. Associating sin with disturbing the peace highlights social processes that may indeed make peace. Discerning between "shalom" and complacency is a perennial problem. To the extent that Plantinga brings sin again to our attention, he renders an important service.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802837165
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Pages: 202

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Vandalism of Shalom 7
2 Spiritual Hygiene and Corruption 28
3 Perversion, Pollution, and Disintegration 39
4 The Progress of Corruption 52
5 Parasite 78
6 Masquerade 96
7 Sin and Folly 113
8 The Tragedy of Addiction 129
9 Attack 150
10 Flight 173
Epilogue 198
Index 200
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