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Not The Way It's Supposed To Be: A Breviary Of Sin
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Not The Way It's Supposed To Be: A Breviary Of Sin

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  870 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
"Plantinga's treatment of sin is comprehensive, articulate, and well written. It confirms the orthodox and neo-orthodox doctrine of sin, lavishly illustrates it from contemporary events, and plumbs depths in understanding sin's complexities and banalities.
Published January 1st 1995 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
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Amy Ivey
Feb 07, 2013 Amy Ivey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, suffering
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 ...more
Trevor Lee
Jan 07, 2017 Trevor Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
The best book I've ever read on sin.
Feb 17, 2014 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thinking Christians
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 meanin
Jason Custer
May 05, 2013 Jason Custer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 inte ...more
Phil Aud
Jan 02, 2016 Phil Aud rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
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 , ...more
Nov 11, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 04, 2010 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 15, 2011 Captmashpea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michael Locklear
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 con
Oct 24, 2013 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 pe
Oct 18, 2014 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to think about sin a little differently
Shelves: christian
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
Apr 22, 2011 Casey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 forev
Catherine Gillespie
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, begi
Camille Kendall
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
Father Michael Porter
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 th ...more
Tristan Sherwin
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/in
Jason Mccool
Oct 28, 2015 Jason Mccool rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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 ...more
Brad Dunson
Mar 12, 2012 Brad Dunson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 17, 2013 Auntie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 q
Kevin Ressler
Oct 05, 2010 Kevin Ressler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 annoye
Greg Baughman
Jan 05, 2013 Greg Baughman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 27, 2014 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lydia by: John McKendricks
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 ...more
Gerald Thomson
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 unca ...more
Garland Vance
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 t
May 26, 2011 reneamac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be is an excellent (and small) book that provides us with a thoughtful theology of sin; in other words, what sin is. Plantinga gives a helpful working definition of sin and makes valuable distinctions between different categories of sin; he talks about the relationship (and difference) between sin and folly and handles the tricky ‘sin for me’ (but not necessarily for you) aspect of sin. You’d think a book all about sin would be heavy and depressing, but Plantinga is ...more
Nina Mcdaniel
Jul 09, 2013 Nina Mcdaniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who doesn't want Shalom? this book takes such a fresh approach to the subject: we were created for peace, we choose to walk away from it every day, and God is in the business of redeeming us from our choice in order to restore us to the peace we were meant to live in. After reading this book I changed my thinking from "what do I need to STOP doing?" to "what can I DO that brings the world closer to a state of Shalom?"
Dayo Adewoye
A fresh, learned, and lively discussion of a somber but relevant concept - sin. Cornelius Plantinga handles this discussion with power and breadth, and he awakens us to the complexity and danger of this evil within. However, we are not left wondering how to cope with our sorry state. The light of grace shines through the book, and we are brought to see that the resurrection is the great triumph over our dismal human situation.
Feb 05, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a treatise on sin. Platinga utilizes many facts, incidents in history, current stories and scripture to examine sin and its affects. It took me a while reading the book to be ok with this book not being so filled with scripture. However, many of his quotes come from augustine and C.S. Lewis. The breadth of material used in the book eventually became impressive. I would suggest this book because of the subject covered alone.
Awesome book! It is about sin, the myriad ways that we commit it, ignore it, are shaped by it, are wounded by it, and misunderstand it. Brilliant mind deftly handling ancient and relevant topic well. I have read a few times. Each time I knock my forehead and say, 'Damn! This is good.' Plus, he's a great theological writer that stimulates both my intelligence AND imagination. Very rare, very refreshing.
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Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church and has served as a pastor in Webster, NY and supply preacher in Cliffwood Beach, NJ. Before joining the faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. taught at Princeton Theological Seminary (1976 - 78), Fuller Theological Seminary (1985, 1987) and Regent College (1997). From 1996 to 2002 he served ...more
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“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 inspires 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.” 4 likes
“Recalling and confessing our sin is like taking out the garbage: once is not enough.” 1 likes
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