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Sin Bravely: A Joyful Alternative to a Purpose-Driven Life Paperback – April 1, 2009
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Ellingsen does engage Rick Warren, about whom he has a few good things to say. But he demonstrates how Warren's popular teachings and the Prosperity Gospel movement, as exemplified by Joel Osteen, are derived from a Puritanical works theology and feed into the Narcissism of American culture. These movements, in Ellingsen's estimation, boil the Christian life down to, on the one hand, what do I have to do to measure up to God's standards, and on the other hand, how will it benefit me to follow God? It's all about self.
I think he's a little unfair to Warren (I'll let him bash Osteen and the prosperity gospel all he wants). I think my religious programming may be too strong to completely reject Warren's perspective. I was raised in a tradition that was perhaps too moralist and Revivalist, as well as highly individualistic.Read more ›
Professor Ellingsen does a masterful job throughout of researching and presenting the width and shallowness of purpose-driven and prosperity thought. At the heart, Professor Ellingsen seeks to reintroduce the freedom of God's grace and Martin Luther's call for Christians to "sin bravely." "...the concept, `sin bravely,'" writes Ellingsen, "is a word of permission to do God's `thing' joyously and with reckless abandon (64)." This idea is intended to contrast with Rick Warren's Purpose Driven model and the prosperity gospel that Ellingsen argues, is an extension of a narcissistic world view.
It is worth noting that Professor Ellingsen also delves into modern scientific discoveries to make his case. Chapter 3 includes the subsection entitled, "Biochemistry, genetics, and original sin," which any pastor, theologian or counselor ought to read. Documentation, footnotes and references to reformation theology, past and present, abound. A good deal of the work includes the history and influence of Puritan thought in the United States, which is worth the time to read.
There is no doubt Professor Ellingsen's book is far better grounded than any of the purpose-driven and/or prosperity gospel materials. While he takes a weak shot at Wesleyan-Arminian thought, I found he does make the case for sinning bravely by using Wesley's quadrilateral of Scripture, tradition, reason and experience.Read more ›