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Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin Paperback – January 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: Breviary of Sin
  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802842186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802842183
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. Steve Schroeder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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This is a book that will challenge any reader.
RecklessRagingFury
I read this book every couple of years, and some particular, personally relevant chapters I read more often than that.
Amazon Customer
Dr. Cornelius Plantinga provides a theology of sin that is insightful, delightful and provoking, at the same time.
torowan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By torowan on October 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Cornelius Plantinga provides a theology of sin that is insightful, delightful and provoking, at the same time. I think not many readers will be able to complete this book without awakening both a desire and a renewed acuteness in their conscience.

Plantinga starts off painting a (very attractive!) picture of what life might look like apart from sin; the point of the book is for us not to simply avoid sinning, but to move to positively create that life. He uses a couple vocabula with special significance, "shalom" to mean a general rightness in the world and society, and "spiritual hygiene" to a rightness in an individual. It may be distracting to get into Hebrew etymology and be concerned with that vocabulary itself -- it seems to have been adopted by the Christian community that specialises in such things, so I'll adapt.

The majority of the book addresses various dimensions in which this sinless state isn't what we observe in the current state of our universe. Representatives of the dimensions Plantinga addresses include:
* The traditional "deadly sins" -- things like envy and immorality -- and the modernly perceived absolute evils such as sexism, racism, and lack of tolerance. While I don't necessarily agree on all of the details of what's really wrong in the modern evils, the bigger point is that a right society would be free of contamination by both sorts of evil, the ones that "the good old days" would have objected to and the ones to which it would have been oblivious.
* Religiosity. He urges believers to make sure it's the God who is there that we worship when we're being religious, rather creating a different god the way we want him to be and then attacking anyone who questions our religiosity.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A H on December 18, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book was ranked as Christianity Today's Book of the Year for 1996, and it is well deserving of the honor. Plantinga has done a remarkable job of describing sin in all its various forms as well as its myriad of subtle dynamics and seductions.
His general thesis is that sin is a disruption of the shalom of God - anything that detracts from the way things are supposed to be. So the Christian task in counteracting the forces of sin in the world is to do whatever possible to restore shalom.
Sin may not seem like a cheery topic, but this book is truly edifying. Highly recommended.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By RecklessRagingFury on December 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" is an insightful, thoughtful, and engaging book. I, and no doubt millions of other Christians love Jesus because of his grace and never-ending love. How easy it would be to so focus on these aspects of God and to lose sight of why He is truly so great. Plantinga's book reminds us of the monumental problem that Jesus has saved us from--Sin. Sin is a loaded word. Many people have and still abuse it. Plantinga does not. Plantinga eloquently terms it "Vandalism of God's Shalom"--God's perfect created order. This metaphor shocked me at first, but then opened my eyes. This is a book that will challenge any reader. It is a classic.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Reddit Andrews, III on July 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Professor Plantinga's work is an eye opening and refreshing treatment of the problem of sin. He is successful in offering the Church effective ways of speaking of an age old subject in contemporary terms without sacrificing the essence of the issue. While his treatment is in no ways comprehensive, any thoughtful reader will come away with much food for thought and a multitude of helpful hints for exposing the reality and pervasivness of sin in our preaching and counseling. His discussion of the social diminsions of iniquity was incredibly penetrating and really meets the needs of the present hour. It is a short read that handsomely repays the time spent.
Pastor Reddit Andrews, III
Soaring Oaks Church
Elk Grove, CA
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By SLFeriozzi@alo.com on July 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
One of my favorites of all time. Very engaging and insightful although I have been more critical of behavoirs, motives, thoughts since reading it. I took a long time to read it and made extensive notes. Even years later I refer to them regaining important insight into my particular situation. Excellent book!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Carr on July 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
The basic premise of the book is that the shalom of God has been vandalized. The peace that is God's design for creation and redemption has been unkept. Sin is defined as "a culpable and personal affront to a personal God," a God who "hates sin not just because it violates his law," but "because it violates shalom, because it breaks the peace, because it interferes with the way things are supposed to be" (13-4). Sin is something beyond just a breach of law, but a "breaking of the covenant with one's savior," an act more deeply at odds with God, with all of creation, and with one's very being (12). Building on this theological standpoint, the rest of the book is a depiction and analysis of the different manifestations of sin, the effects of sin in the human life-on an individual and global scale-and the ways humanity tries to evade sin.

Plantinga poignantly explains the idea of sin in relation to corruption, thereby unveiling a truth about God's design of creation. "God orders things into place by separating and sorting them. At the same time God binds things together" (29). The pattern for life consists of "distinction and union and distinction-within-union that would give creation strength and beauty" (29). The inherent strength and beauty of the universe was weakened and trashed at the fall. Union was severed. Distinctions were smudged. During this discussion, Plantinga shares a story about a Rabbi who was made to preach naked to German soldiers to illustrate how mockery tries to despoil human dignity (32). This is one of many deft portraits of sinfulness that Plantinga paints.

However, a hearty portion of his examples come across as shock-value tactics to win ethos with his readers at the expense of digression or irrelevancy.
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