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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 PlaThis 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....

Title : Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780802842183
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 202 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin Reviews

  • Amy Ivey
    2018-11-11 14:36

    This book was recommended to me three years ago after my 17 year old nephew was killed by a drunk driver. I bought the book then, but I had not read it until this week after my pastor referenced it in his sermon on Sunday. What an outstanding book on the very difficult topic of sin: what it is morally and theologically; the contexts, motives, and causes of sin; how we as Christians react and respond to sin, both our own sin and the sin of others. He discusses specific sins of pride and envy, as well as the relationship between sin and addiction. Plantiga's underlying premise is that sin is the vandalism of shalom. His definition of shalom is much broader than the concept of peace. "In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight - a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspire joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom He delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be." He continues, "For at its core, human sin is a violation of our human end, which is to build shalom and thus to glorify and enjoy God forever." The disruptions that occur in our shalom because of sin, whether it be our own sin or the sin of others, rocks us to our cores... or at least it should. Plantiga points out that sin is not an organism on its own but attaches to living organisms. Sin has no life on its own but operates as a parasite taking its life from us like a cancer. We must not "ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin which cuts the nerve of the Gospel." We must center our hope for shalom on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the only one who could pay the price for our sin.

  • Andrew
    2018-10-31 16:38

    Neal Plantinga draws heavily from the Augustinian and Calvinistic streams of the Christian tradition to help contemporary readers see in our own world what previous generations called "sin".It becomes clear a few pages in that Plantinga is not out to simply point fingers or to condemn; rather, he is attempting to convey a way of thinking and feeling that has been almost entirely lost in modern (more 'therapeutic') forms of thought. Like his literary hero CS Lewis, Plantinga's attention to meanings embedded in colloquialisms allows him to demonstrate how foreign the concept of sin has become to many people - including many Christians. So this book is a sustained attempt to winsomely reinstate the content behind one single word: sin.Plantinga's refusal to subvert the sense that something is wrong with me and the world brings to light a tender courage that is perhaps the virtuous corollary to a traditional harmatology. Amazingly, the book is not depressing to read nor does it engender an overly dark assessment of one's surroundings. In fact, the book climaxes with a lucid explanation of how our doctrine of sin qualifies what we say about grace. This book is not only robust theology but also masterful prose. The book itself performs a truth that Plantinga nowhere directly states - that the doctrine of sin increases our enjoyment of the world, God, and one another.

  • Jason Custer
    2018-10-17 18:57

    This is perhaps the definitive book on sin and how we should think about it (apart from John Owen, of course). Cornelius is the brother of Alvin Plantinga (one of the foremost Christian philosophers today), but leans more towards theology than philosophy. He defines sin as "the culpable vandalism of shalom." The Hebrew concept of shalom ("peace") is the idea of wholeness, harmony, and flourishing - how creation is supposed to be. Thus sin is ruining the harmony and peace that was originally intended by God for all of creation - it is vandalizing the created order and making chaos instead.Throughout the book, Plantinga examines different aspects of sin and how it operates in our every day lives. He uses many broad pictures to help us understand sin fully - seeing sin as a parasite or corruption of what is good, etc. He definitely caused me to think of sin in ways that I have never done so before - which was very helpful. I will definitely have to come back and re-read this book in the future to glean more from Plantinga's insights.

  • Phil Aud
    2018-11-01 17:47

    I came across this title while reading Volf's "Exclusion and Embrace" several years ago and had picked it up for some research on the distinction that Volf noted (light from dark, etc.). While that was a very small portion of the book, the rest of the book was also truly a pleasure to read. To read a book on sin and call it a pleasure shows that the author is not only a great academic, but a truly gifted writer. Plantinga delivers a thorough look at sin (it's progression, it's parasitic nature , it's excuses, and it's tragedy) in a brutally honest, yet grace filled way. Particularly compelling is the overarching theme of sin as the "blamable vandalism of shalom." I highly recommend this book not only for particular research but also for general pastoral insight and ministry.

  • Mark
    2018-11-02 18:58

    It is not often that you hear about a book entirely devoted to the theology of sin. This is probably because if you were to think about what a book about sin might be like, you would probably imagine a book that would produce either depression, legalism or liberalism or some kind of a mixture of all three. Cornelius Plantinga Jr., however, treated the topic so well that it does not produce these results at all. Rather, his book is sobering, yet witty, convicting and inspiring. By the end of this brief theology (or "breviary") you will be humbled and convicted because of your own sinful condition, yet inspired to cling to the gospel because of the hope we have in Christ. For theologian and lay-person alike: take, and read!

  • Kessia Reyne
    2018-10-17 14:45

    A concise and thoughtful articulation of sin. I haven't enjoyed a book so much as this one in quite some time. Plantinga is adept with language and communicates in an engaging way, making liberal use of metaphors and stories to illustrate his assertions (which themselves are carefully worded to illuminate the issues). This is a great homiletical resource, but preacher beware: the book may leave you with a heightened sense of your own sinfulness! That was the biggest blessing of all.

  • Anna
    2018-11-05 21:02

    Probably the best treatment of sin I've ever read. It's accessible, thought-provoking and definitely convicting. And not completely about sin, either -- it's about our need for redemption, yes, but overwhelmingly God's grace is shown through that need. Definitely you should read it.

  • Trevor Lee
    2018-10-26 20:34

    The best book I've ever read on sin.

  • Captmashpea
    2018-10-24 14:39

    I liked this book much better than i thought i would. It was a book assigned for class, but I still managed to get a lot out of the reading.

  • J. Delton
    2018-10-26 20:46

    this one is in my top 10, maybe even 5. with incredible efficiency and effectiveness, Plantinga explores the problem if evil, and exposes it's pervasive presence in society and even your own heart. But as evil becomes more plain in your sight, so will the beauty of redemption.

  • April Thrush
    2018-11-01 17:47

    I feel like I have highlighted like 50% of this book because I loved it so much. The author quoted C.S. Lewis a lot, and I know why he liked him so much, because I would compare this work to being almost along the same plane as those of Lewis, it was that good.

  • Andrew
    2018-11-12 18:35

    Got more insightful at the end but I thought the first half used to many words.

  • Tyler Hurst
    2018-10-15 17:36

    A book every Christian should read.

  • Michael Locklear
    2018-11-14 15:38

    Quite often in my readings I have come across quotes of this book. So I thought it was time to ponder this author's thoughts first hand. An overview of the book is given by the author (quoting from the preface and the introduction): This book is a brief theology of sin - a “breviary” of sin... My goal... is to renew the knowledge of a persistent reality that used to evoke in us fear, hatred, and grief. Many of us have lost this knowledge, and we ought to regret the loss. For slippage in our consciousness of sin, like most fashionable follies, may be pleasant, but it is also devastating. Self-deception about our sin is a narcotic, a tranquilizing and disorienting suppression of our spiritual central nervous system. What’s devastating about it is that when we lack an ear for wrong notes in our lives, we cannot play right ones or even recognize them in the performances of others... [preface-xiii] ... the project is to present the nature and dynamics of sin. To carry it out, I shall define sin, describe how sin corrupts what is good and how such corruption spreads, discuss the parasitic quality of sin and the ironies and pretenses generated by this quality, compare sin with folly and addiction, and conclude by describing a couple of the classic “postures” or movements of sin (attack and flight). A brief epilogue reminds us that whatever we say about sin will qualify whatever we say about grace. [pp5, 6] At the close, the author speaks of sin and grace, and I quote: To speak of sin by itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way. Moreover, to speak of sin by itself is to misunderstand its nature: sin is only a parasite, a vandal, a spoiler. Sinful life is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life. To concentrate on our rebellion, defection, and folly – to say to the world “I have some bad news and I have some bad news” – is to forget that the center of the Christian religion is not our sin but our Savior. To speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the hope of shalom. But to speak of grace without sin is surely no better. To do this is to trivialize the cross of Jesus Christ, to skate past all the struggling by good people down the ages to forgive, accept, and rehabilitate sinners, including themselves, and therefore to cheapen the grace of God that always comes to us with blood on it. What had we thought the ripping and writhing on Golgotha were all about? To speak of grace without looking squarely at these realities, without painfully honest acknowledgment of our own sin and its effects, is to shrink grace to a mere embellishment of the music of creation, to shrink it down to a mere grace note. In short, for the Christian church (even in its recently popular seeker services) to ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin is to cut the nerve of the gospel. For the sober truth is that without full disclosure on sin, the gospel of grace becomes impertinent, unnecessary, and finally uninteresting. [p199] I would encourage you to take the time and read this "Breviary of Sin." You'll be glad you did.

  • Bob
    2018-11-01 16:01

    In his book, "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin," Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. conveys a well-developed treatment on the subject of human sin in a book that only has two hundred pages. This book is great, thought provoking, and contains enough material to cause both the lay-person and/or pastor to chew on for quite some time.Dr. Plantinga points out that there has been a loss of fervor in the teaching & preaching of this material due to the wide acceptance of relativism. Many people ignore sin as if it is something to forget about. In this book, there are many presuppositions the author chooses to make & most Christians would agree with these. He is not necessarily trying to convince anyone that sin is the problem he assumes from the beginning it is the problem. In harmitology (the study of sin) he examines & attempts to answer the how & why questions of sin's inception & existence. The issue of sin is a very complex matter. For all of us the question of sin's reality is not one easily answered by solving quantitative or qualitative hypotheses. Rather, as the author's thesis posits, the discussion of how sin affects humanity is usually gauged by the extent to which it damages people, & when that corruption initially occurs. Each person who lives on earth inevitably faces the choice to sin & the consequences that result from immoral action. In describing the way sin works, the author does not contort the matter to his theological leaning, but instead speaks of the universality of sin in an orthodox manner.Sin is defined as disobedience to God. Yet, sin is not just an issue of morality; sin is a concept. When humans transgress against God, it is rebellion against the things of God & His nature. There exists a difference between sin (singular) & sins (plural). Sin most notably represents the inclination humans have toward choosing wrong over right, & bad before good. Sins, on the other hand, are the acts in which somebody disobeys God's law or man's rule. The difference between the two is that humans have a choice in one but not the other. A sin nature exists because of Adam's sin, & that is permanent & can only be ratified by embracing the Gospel of the person & work of Jesus Christ.

  • Eric
    2018-11-07 15:56

    Overall, this book is full of a lot of good thoughts. I was impressed by Plantinga's insight a number of times. I have two different demerits. First, right off the bat Plantinga mistakes a shifting cultural norm for a sin when some impetuous dental hygienist dared to call him (or his representative everyman) by his first name. I was on high alert for this thereafter, and, to his credit, he does it rarely. A few of his examples feel a bit dated now. It's difficult pick events that take place in a snapshot of history and overlay them on an immutable truth in a way that they exemplify that truth for all times (Plantinga didn't call Paul "Mr. of Tarsus" that I could see). Much of what he says is good for all times, but some of it is specific to 1996 and will slowly expire. In the same way that a great science textbook from 1940 looses its luster after decades of revisions to the current theory, this book has lost some of its original shine.Second, I couldn't figure out how his topics were organized. If the chapters followed a broad organization, I had a hard time grasping how to contents of the chapters related to the chapters and that overarching order. It felt like 30 years of notes, spare thoughts, and jotted down examples spliced together sloppily into a semi-coherent narrative. That doesn't take away from the insights; some were wonderfully profound. To me, they just didn't all fit where they ended up. If he had a blog (during that brief window in time when those were relevant), it would have been great; loose topical cohesion, no requirement for one day to blend seamlessly into another.Anyway, the book is nonetheless profound at times, and Plantinga has a textured understanding of some difficult topics. I very much appreciated his intelligence.

  • Casey
    2018-11-04 16:04

    Overall: this book was a long consideration of sin that looked at it from many unique viewpoints, but was largely absent in the area of Christ's finished work and defeat of sin (thus two stars). Here were my high points:In this meandering consideration of the nature of sin, Plantinga defines sin as culpable shalom-breaking (pg 14). Following this line of reasoning, he goes on to describe sin as the vandalism of shalom, a violation of our human end (to build Shalom and glorify and enjoy God forever). He examines corruption, and likens Godliness as a discipline to having good spiritual hygene (with an emphasis on discernment). Plantinga also makes an interesting point that we should hold everyone responsible for their own sins as a mark of our respect for their dignity and weight as human beings. He likens sin to a parasite, an "uninvited guest that keeps tapping its host for sustenance....Sin is not really an entity but a spoiler of entities, not an organism but a leach on organisms. Sin does not build shalom; it vandalizes it." He goes on to say that "Good is original, independent, and constructive; evil is derivative, dependent, and destructive. To be successful, evil needs what it hijacks from goodness."He later talks about the folly of sin, stating that "Satan has involved himself in a hopeless program of swimming against the stream of the universe, of "wearing himself out in absurd, terrifying attempts to reconstruct in the opposite direction the whole work of the Creator"." He also devotes a few chapters to addiction, envy, attack (revenge, maligning), and fleeing (shirking responsibility).

  • Catherine Gillespie
    2018-10-18 19:56

    Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be : A Breviary of Sin presents a short but important theological discussion of what is becoming a less well-understood but still very important facet of Christian belief.Our culture is uncomfortable with the notion of sin. We have a vague sense that things are not they way they are supposed to be, but little apprehension of or willingness to admit to why we are anxious, restless, and locked into cycles of damaging behavior.The answer, author Plantinga believes, begins with renewing our understanding of what sin is, how it feeds on itself, and how its power over us is broken. There are a lot of important things to think about in the book, although it’s written in an accessible style. Plantinga touches on common questions about sin, subtle facets of sin that we have grown comfortable and thus overlook, and the implications for that forgetting. I found the chapter on how sin and evil are represented in and responded to in literature particularly interesting and helpful.{Read my full review here}

  • Camille Kendall
    2018-10-24 20:47

    This is my if-you-only-read-one-book-this-year recommendation. Plantinga gives clarity to a serious subject that affects us all, but one not discussed much in contemporary circles - what is sin? what is it not? why do we sin? how do we respond to our own sin and to that of others?How I have benefited from this small but powerful volume personally: It clarified why sin is so offensive, so harmful, and yet so seductively appealing. It has aided me in more effectively identifying and addressing sin in my own life. It has helped me better understand the behavior of others around me.I have several other titles on my summer reading list, but I intend to read "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" once more before summer ends. It is that good.A couple of quotes I highlighted:"...people bring dirty weapons to holy wars." - p. 79"Virtually all of them, when interviewed, stated their opposition, in principle, to hurting innocent people. Yet, what they rejected in principle they did in practice, however distressed they felt about it." - p. 176

  • Father Michael Porter
    2018-10-19 15:02

    Deals with a topic that many in the Episcopal Church avoid almost as much as the topic of Hell – Sin. Sin might be “fun” for some, but its not fun to talk about. It also isn’t very polite sometimes. People don’t like to be told that they are sinning, it makes them feel judged and we certainly shouldn’t be judging anyone! Plantiga suggests that we need to get past this fear and reclaim an awareness of sin that we have too long glossed over. He does so by taking an in-depth look at several ways that we sin and how that sin comes about or manifests itself in sneaky ways. He focuses a lot of attention on a few of the “Deadly” sins, including Pride, Envy and Lust. He stresses the importance of people taking accountability for their own sin, except (almost) in the case of addiction, where he seems to waffle a little bit. His opinions on a wide range of topics, from music lyrics to tv evangelists, he makes known in glaringly annoying fashion , but overall the book does a very good job of covering a topic that many don’t want to discuss at all.

  • Tristan Sherwin
    2018-10-28 22:43

    Only a short review for this one.This is a excellent digest of thoughts on an important topic, and there are plenty of great clusters of Plantinga prose that I can see myself using and referring back to. The reader should note that Plantinga's focus in this work isn't to provide a moral framework by stating particular behaviours as right or wrong. The aim of *Not the Way It's Supposed to Be* is to provide a theological and philosophical definition of sin, and an explanation for our motivation/inclination for engaging with it. And this is executed very well.However, in certain parts, the text could be improved (maybe modernised?) and certain moral stances that the author does make could be explained and defined better. Hence my three stars: there are many islands of thought provoking material here, but there's still murky water left to traverse in-between.

  • Jason Mccool
    2018-11-08 21:48

    This was one of those books that ended up with a lot of highlighting, both on my Kindle copy and hard copy. Cornelius Plantinga has a fascinating way with words that made it a joy to read despite the somber subject matter. It was both enlightening and convicting. He used many examples of over-the-top cases of pride, envy, apathy, anger, and so forth, to highlight principles and make application, but then he shows how these over-the-top cases are really, at their core, no different than the sins we all struggle with. He had an astute way of showing how sin in our lives develops and grows from easily overlooked little seeds to kudzu-like infestation. It made for good self-reflection and serves as a sober warning to "examine oneself", but remember that only God has the antidote for this sickness.

  • Brad Dunson
    2018-11-12 21:45

    Plantinga's searing and convicting account of sin brings the most evocative work on the subject that I've read since Owen's classic. This work focuses on the many forms of sin and leaves you reeling from a deeper understanding of your contribution and willing participation in the ruin of perfection.Personally, this book caused me to be more fully aware of every blemish and stain of sin, as well as the continual redemption of this earth that we are a part of. It serves as a painful reminder that we are contributing in a significant way to the very evil we loathe. It's a reminder that should be fresh on our minds.I highly recommend this book.

  • Auntie
    2018-10-18 20:38

    I picked this book up after a lively discussion in Sunday School about the appearance of sin in the Garden of Eden. This book has sat on my shelf, unread, for a number of years! Now is it's time to illuminate some things! **********************************************************************************It is such a valuable read, I'm very thankful that Plantinga took on this subject. We all know that sin is bad, but lately it's been more and more of a blur as to which behaviors or lack of them qualify. We are very concerned about living according to God's plan. This book describes the "why" of what ways sin separates us, and separates us from our loving Lord.

  • Kevin Ressler
    2018-10-19 15:53

    I will not review this book, it builds upon itself in a way that the argument is not easily paraphrased. But it boils down to this: Sin is constant and ever prevalent in our societies much more than just those who we all agree upon like murderers and rapists; we need to focus more broadly and our lack of awareness of sin is making our society decreasingly degenerate.It was interesting to read so much from someone with such a sin driven worldview. It is challenging and often I found myself annoyed with what he was saying, even though I couldn't really disagree.

  • Greg Baughman
    2018-11-13 17:39

    This is because it was written for a class I took last Spring. If you want the short answer: read this book. It is written on a very accessible, popular level, but the theology contained therein is profound. This is in no way "ivory tower" theology. It is a boots on the ground, down and dirty discussion of a doctrine that we tend to ignore.A full review (written for a class I took at Covenant Seminary) can be found here.

  • Lydia
    2018-11-13 22:50

    I thought this was a great read. It's a difficult subject to swallow and get through but Plantinga Jr. deals with the material very well. I was appreciative of the way he brought everything together. At times he directly showed how something related to another point made in a different chapter. This was helpful for me in connecting all the dots! I hope to see this book in the hands of more believers and perhaps we can have a better understanding and awareness of sin; in my life and those around me as well.

  • Gerald Thomson
    2018-10-16 18:03

    Plantinga gives an amazing introduction on how sin is a taboo subject in today’s society, and how this change has hurt the Christian message. With this great promise, I was ready for a book that would give me tools to help turn this trend around. Instead, the book is spent defining what sin is. Though still interesting, and I sure needed in our post-sin world, it was not the book I was looking for. Though, Plantinga’s work on why giving a person a pass because of their background is a truly uncaring and conceited act, is really brilliant.

  • Jeff
    2018-10-28 22:48

    This was a really good read about the various facets of sin. Plantinga's overall point is that God's design for the world is shalom, and that sin is anything and everything that breaks that shalom. At first, that sounded like a very squishy, feel-good definition of sin, but his treatment of various aspects of how sin spoils God's people and God's creation is really top-notch. A great read for any Christian wanting to get a better understanding of what sin is.

  • Garland Vance
    2018-10-18 14:50

    I did a speed-reading of this book for a class, but I will certainly need to go back in order to read it well. Planting a looks at sin from a variety of angles to see the effects that it has on humanity. The author pulls from ancient theologians and modern-day headlines to show how deeply the Fall has affected humanity. Although the author does not deal with this overtly, this book helps you see how great the death and resurrection of Christ truly are in their defeat of sin. I highly recommend this work to Christians and will certainly re-read this one.