Sin Bravely: A Joyful Alternative to a Purpose-Driven Life

Overview

Mark Ellingsen dares you to go ahead and sin bravely! In this refreshing and unique book, he challenges the religious legalism pervasive throughout American evangelicalism today and encourages a new understanding of what it means to be both a Christian and a human being. Equipped with the joyful, rebellious vision of Martin Luther, father of the Protestant reformation, and the latest in neuroscientific research, Ellingsen offers a new approach for healthy living — one opposed to the duty-oriented, selfish and ...

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Overview

Mark Ellingsen dares you to go ahead and sin bravely! In this refreshing and unique book, he challenges the religious legalism pervasive throughout American evangelicalism today and encourages a new understanding of what it means to be both a Christian and a human being. Equipped with the joyful, rebellious vision of Martin Luther, father of the Protestant reformation, and the latest in neuroscientific research, Ellingsen offers a new approach for healthy living — one opposed to the duty-oriented, selfish and stifling conception of faith that has gained such a strong foothold in contemporary American culture. It is an approach that fully embraces the active role that God's grace plays in each person's life and the fun and freedom one gains from it.

Beginning with the first theological analysis of Rick Warren's brand of Christianity, this book exposes the burdens and narcissism that purpose-driven and duty-bound living encourages, and includes the purveyors of the Prosperity Gospel, taught by such influential preachers like Joel Osteen, in his critique. Ellingsen writes that brave sinners, aware of God's grace in their lives, instead say "no" to narcissism and "yes" to healthy risk-taking that gets beyond selfish desires to the desire to help one another. When people sin bravely, acknowledging that everything done is done in sin with God's saving grace acting upon them, people can learn to recognize God. This awareness leads to freedom and joy, since the pressure is now removed to do and be good. In addition, total dependence on God entails a self-forgetfulness that leads to happiness. The more boldly someone acknowledges their sin, in failing to take credit for the good they have done, the more focused on God the individual becomes. Correspondingly, this self-forgetful lifestyle is a promising counter-cultural alternative to the cultural narcissism, which so dominate in many segments of contemporary American society. This book demonstrates both how and why brave sinning leads to joy, and in so doing offers readers practical advice on living this way.

Ellingsen also cites recent neurobiological findings showing that when people forget themselves in order to focus on bigger projects, the pleasure centers of the brain are stimulated and people become happier and more content. It is this joyous risk-taking that he suggests brings people closer together, closer to God, and closer to a better understanding of themselves. Sin Bravely dares to be that joyful alternative to the purpose driven life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

It seems hard to believe that anyone would want to take on Pastor Rick Warren and his "purpose-driven life" agenda, but Ellingsen, associate professor of church history at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta does just that in this brief but persuasive volume. Steeped in the pietistic leanings of American religion, Warren, the author insists, has promoted an agenda that focuses too much on personal development and not enough on the larger issue of man's utter sinfulness. Can a Christian separate his sinful condition from the works that he does? Luther, and Paul the apostle, would insist that while every bit of our lives is sinful and needs to be redeemed, we can overcome "the tension... between being 100 percent a sinner and 100 percent a fully forgiven saint of God." The author convincingly and passionately argues that Warren's emphasis on personal transformation is indicative of the narcissism of the early Puritan divines from whom Warren draws his inspiration. Instead, Christians should be in the business of transforming society, not merely themselves. (May)

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Library Journal

Two new books look seriously at the Christian vices and virtues. Ellingsen's only jestingly invokes sin; this work, by the author of When Did Jesus Become Republican? and Reclaiming Our Roots, is a thoughtful and well-articulated attempt to retrieve the Evangelical movement of Christianity from the ethos of Rick Warren and The Purpose-Driven Life, as well as the "Gospel of Prosperity," freeing oneself by surrendering one's will to God. It should be helpful to many readers. DeYoung (philosophy, Calvin Coll.), who penned the "Seven Deadly Sins" article in the Encyclopedia of Christianity, offers a serious, scripturally based revisitation of the perils conservative Christians face from the traditional deadly sins. Ellingsen is recommended for most collections; DeYoung will be suitable for many as well.


—Graham Christian
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826429643
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 6/28/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Mark Ellingsen is the author of many books, including When Did Jesus Become Republican?, Evangelical Movement: Growth, Impact, Controversy, Dialog, and Reclaiming our Roots and Sin Bravely. He is Professor of Church History at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION Why It's More Fun To Be Brave In Your Sinning

1. Rick Warren and American Christianity: What's Good and What's Bad

2. How Purpose-Driven Living Can Lead To a Life That's All About You: The Burden of Self-Centeredness

3. An Augustinian Re-Education about Sin: Relevant Genetic Data

4. An Introduction To Brave Sinning: A God-Centered Life

5. Brave Sinning Makes for a Joyful Life! Neurobiological Data

6. How Brave Sinning Could Change American Life

CONCLUSION Sin Bravely!

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