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

By Cornelius Plantinga (Author)
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Item description for Not the Way It's Supposed to Be : A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga...

Sin. Christians used to hate it, fear it, flee from it, grieve over it . . . but not anymore. In his bestseller, Plantinga gives you a fresh look at the ancient doctrine of sin to help you better recognize and deal with it. Discover how sin corrupts what is good, the relationship to folly and addiction---and the beauty of God's grace.

Publishers Description
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.

Awards and Recognitions
Not the Way It's Supposed to Be : A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga has received the following awards and recognitions -
  • Christianity Today Book Award - 1996 Winner - Book of the Year category

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   216
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.06" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.57"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 6, 1996
ISBN  0802842186  
ISBN13  9780802842183  

Availability  8 units.
Availability accurate as of Sep 23, 2017 06:04.
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More About Cornelius Plantinga

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Cornelius Plantinga has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Breviary of Sin

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1Books > Special Features > Substores > jp-unknown1
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General

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Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Not the Way It's Supposed to Be : A Breviary of Sin?

Readability is key...  Feb 8, 2007
From the president of Calvin Theological Seminary, one would expect a book to read more like a theological treatise than a popular book. Refreshingly, Plantinga devotes his evident intellect to writing a book that is very accessible to the student, pastor, and parishioner alike. He strikes a fine balance between packing the most information and using helpful illustrations. A very quick read compared to most books in its discipline
This is a fairly accessible treatment on the doctrine of sin.  Dec 12, 2005
Cornelius Plantinga provides, in this book, an accessible entry into the discusion of sin. Using a rich collection of modern examples and illustrations, he traces sin as a driving reality in the modern context, even though the subject is largely marginalized in society and in the Church.

Plantiga's approach reflects a Reformed tradition of theology which treats sin as a violation of the law of God. However, rather than using the language of covenant promise, he uses the term 'Shalom' as the backdrop. This is a very helpful term as it is biblically rich as well as encompasing not only of the individual experience but also the corporate experience. Pit against 'shalom' is sin. In this way, Plantinga makes an important recovery from the view which treats sin only as a matter of an individual's deed. Sin, then, is treated both on individual and corporate levels.

Tracing the affects of sin and the characteristics of it, Plantinga provides an overview of the traditional doctrine of sin and presents it in terms which are understandable to the average reader. While adopting the historical view which states sin as privation, he also emphasizes that sin does take on form as it feeds off of reality (in a parasitic way). The metaphor of a parasite is a graphic yet appropriate picture of sin.

In the end this book is a good entry into a topic this is often ignored. It is the case, however, that Plantinga does not delve deeply into the debates over the origins of sin and the effects that it has with regards to salvation. In otherwords, this is not a full treatment of the issues. But in Plantinga's defense, this book does not purport itself to be a complete study on the doctrine of sin. So, the Plantinga succedes insofar as the book accomplishes what it is meant for.
Renewing a vision for how it IS supposed be  Oct 4, 2004
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.

Generally, he looks at how we err or fail to take responsibility. It is written within the context of God's grace being the solution to this problem, but doesn't spend much space on grace; part of the reason the book was written to offset the imbalance of how much is being spoken and written on grace without materially addressing sin - why grace matters.

Some of the focus of this book fits especially well in a post-modern western context, but the work is clearly applicable to the whole of human experience. When appalled by some of the examples, those of us who don't belong in the setting whence they were drawn will do well to think of our own parallels rather than to set about casting stones at "the west" / neoliberals / the US / New Yorkers / etc. There is much in this work to remind each of us, to make each of us conscious, of our guilt and responsibility -- not only for things of which we have always felt secretly guilty, but for things that likely never crossed our minds. Certainly my conscience has been piqued!

Plantinga points out how we live in a world where the evil people do may be 'caused' be evil they have suffered. He lightly broaches the subject of non-exclusivity between being cause and result -- how sin can be a result of one's conditions, and how one's conditions can be a result of sin. To explore the theological and logical relationship between these two more fully, I recommend two books by D A Carson:
* An academic "Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension" for an in-depth study of the relationship between the two, or
* The more popular "How Long O Lord" for a broader study on evil that includes the summary conclusions of that work, and complements Plantinga's study on sin.

Plantinga's book is a nice complement to a book like "The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Chrisitan Life" by J. Douma, who works out pragmatic implications of the positive side of Ten Commandments in modern life, answering the question of what we should be doing in a parallel dimension.

We can never agree on everything, of course. While I enthusiastically embrace most of the conclusions that Plantinga presents in this book, his underlying epistemology fails to qualitatively distinguish between the
* eternal truth of scripture -- open to fallible interpretation no doubt, but objective since it is given by Special Revelation
* the current "knowledge" of science which, since it is inductively learned, may reflect the objective truth of nature with increasing approximation but never with certainty and always subject to change; and
* the current mores posited by sociology, where something seems wrong because society rejects it rather than because it contradicts God's revealed objective demands.
Let us not blithely ignore what current society believes to be true and false, right and wrong, but let us not put those beliefs on the same footing as what God has objectively revealed. To (slightly mis)quote Professor Kirke in Plantinga's admired C.S.Lewis, "Don't they read Plato or Bishop Berkeley or Pierre Duhem anymore? I wonder what they do teach them at these schools."
Old Truth in New Clothing  Jul 8, 2002
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

sin as vandalism  Dec 5, 2001
"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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