Resources on Sin

8 February 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Yesterday I spoke to a small but loyal crowd on the subject of sin. Today I wanted to produce a post that contained some great resources on the subject. Even though some may suggest that I’m my own best resource (ha!), the books on this list have been highly influential in my own understanding, and so I pass these titles on to you. Speaking of books, iMonk recently announced a forthcoming review of Eugene Peterson’s latest, and you should check that out as well.

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, Cornelius Plantinga. Quite easily one of the best resources on sin currently available, and is unique in that it speaks powerfully to both believers and skeptics. Plantinga connects the idea of sin to the Hebrew conception of shalom or “peace.” The book makes abundantly clear that “sin” is far from an irrelevant subject, but one deserving of our utmost attention, making Plantinga the strongest voice on the subject available today.

Whatever Became of Sin? Karl Menninger, M.D. A bit older than Plantinga’s work (and sadly, out of print), Menninger focuses on the way that sin has been historically conceptualized both by society and the individual. Full of quotes and data drawn from a wide range of sources, Menninger expertly details the way that sin has been addressed culturally.

It Came From Within! Andy Stanley. Whatever you think of Andy Stanley, you must admit that in this book he paints a remarkable accurate portrait of the human condition. Stanley’s point – a thread that runs throughout the book – is that the wrong things we do really are the product of a heart that has become so wrong, and that we are all monsters underneath.

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, Gary Bridges. This recent book has enjoyed well-deserved praise for its forthright targeting of the “sliding scale” that is often used to evaluate sin. Whie the church generally addresses the “major” sins, others (such as gossip, selfishness and jealousy) are minimized or even ignored. There is also a companion study guide available, making this a good resource for small groups seeking to further explore this topic.

Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle, Henry Blocher. This is the most academic work on the list. This book comes from the larger series, New Studies in Biblical Theology. Blocher draws from the whole of scripture to address the way that the Bible speaks of sin. An excellent resource to have on the shelf.

Post Secret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, Frank Warren. Not a “resource” in the same sense as those above, but a powerful tool of cultural analysis. Frank Warren began this as an art project: asking strangers from across the country to write down their worst sins on postcards and mail them to him. The results of this project now span four books. There is no commentary, only raw, unmasked souls poured out on postcards (in other words, be warned: these confessions are unedited, so those who are more sensitive may want to exercise caution). While Warren does not connect this project to the concept of sin, it nonetheless speaks powerfully of man’s sense of shame, guilt and isolation, demonstrating that sin is a very real, very personal reality for countless young people. You can visit the Post Secret blog by clicking here (again: these confessions are real, and may or may not be safe for work).

8 February 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Tri-State Fellowship and as a research writer for Docent Research Group.

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