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

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This timely book 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 the shadow of sin has now dimmed in our consciousness. Even preachers, who once got visibly angry over a congregation’s sin, now speak of sin in a mumble.

Cornelius Plantinga 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. In smoothly flowing prose 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 describes two classic "postures" or movements of sin – attack and flight. And in an epilogue he reminds us that whatever we say about sin also sharpens our eye for the beauty of grace.

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Editorial Reviews

Anglican Journal
This insightful book is leavened with charm and wit.
Augsburg Fortress Book News
Especially valuable for preachers, seminary students, and AIMs. Plantinga provides a sophisticated analysis of sin... A welcome corrective to contemporary theological reactions against Neo-orthodoxy.
CBA Bookstore Journal
"His patient dissection, clear writing style, and ease with metaphor make this book a valuable catalog of sin's various mutations.... Pastors and counselors will find this book especially valuable."
Plantinga's new book is as fine an instrument as a mere book can be for reintroducing Christendom to the concept of sin. It is conceptually sophisticated without being technical or academic.... A stunning feast of metaphors and memorable formulas, of illustrations from private and public life gleaned from history, biographies, fiction, newspapers and magazines, and personal experience—as well as an occasional theologian. This is theology for preachers and others who live and work close to the ground.
Journal of Theology for Southern Africa
A fascinating and very readable theology of sin.
Librarian's World
Highly recommended reading and a must for church libraries.
Princeton Seminary Bulletin
A coherent, substantive theological treatise with a wealth of homiletical insights and real-life connections.
Provident Book Finder
An excellent book... Cornelius Plantinga makes his book both fascinating and clear.
Theology Today
A refreshing and updated presentation of the traditional Christian understanding of sin and how it affects every aspect of our personhood.... Engaging and worthwhile.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802842183
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Pages: 202
  • Sales rank: 408,243
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

  1. Vandalism of Shalom
  2. Spiritual Hygiene and Corruption
  3. Perversion, Pollution, and Disintegration
  4. The Progress of Corruption
  5. Parasite
  6. Masquerade
  7. Sin and Folly
  8. The Tragedy of Addiction
  9. Attack
  10. Flight
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