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Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,339 ratings  ·  209 reviews
Does God's Wrath Define Christianity? Or Does God's Love?
In his famous sermon -Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, - Puritan revivalist Jonathan Edwards shaped predominating American theology with a vision of God as angry, violent, and retributive. Three centuries later, Brian Zahnd was both mesmerized and terrified by Edwards's wrathful God. Haunted by fear that crippl
Paperback, 209 pages
Published August 15th 2017 by Waterbrook Press
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Clif Hostetler
If the title of this book has the ring of familiarity, it may be from past attendance in an English literature class in which the reading of, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” by Jonathan Edwards was assigned reading. The similarity and one-word difference between this book's title and Edwards' sermon is intentional. Zahnd, the author of this book, is a preacher who once aspired to emulate Jonathan Edwards in his sermon content and delivery. He wanted to scare as many people as possible in ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Though I was an atheist, I was, as many Americans are, a puritanical atheist, because much of the faith that faith that came to America was viewed through a puritanical lens. (Similarly, many Christians and evangelical Christians are puritanical Christians, whether we realize it or not). I was confronted with an horrified by the vengeful God of the Old Testament, and could not reconcile this Old Testament God with the Jesus of the New Testament. Even in my inchoate stages of faith, I could not r ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have no issue with his conclusion that violence is antithetical to Christian belief. My problem is how he gets there. His emphasis on God as revealed in the person of Jesus is to the exclusion of the God that Scripture reveals in the Old Testament. This is not an orthodox reading of Scripture, nor is it a helpful way of teaching who God really is. I agree wholeheartedly that Jesus is the fullness of God, the clearest picture of who God is, and the Man we should model our lives after. But in Mr ...more
David Steele
Aug 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bad-books
A Critical Review

I will never forget a very special evening with a small group of Christ-followers at the McLean home. My good friend, Don suggested that we read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards in one sitting – on our knees. And so a group of middle-aged adults gathered in Don’s living room alongside several children (whose knees were much more nimble) – and we read Edward’s classic sermon – on our knees. It is a moment I will not soon forget. We were humbled. We were d
Jon Patterson
Dec 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
I am not giving this book a bad review because it is poorly written (it is a very engaging read) or because I disagree with the author's conclusions (which I certainly do), I am giving it a bad review because Zahnd may misrepresent his opponents more than any author I have ever read.

I was excited to read this, as I thought Zahnd could fairly demonstrate a reasonable perspective to justify his view of atonement and the nature of God. To my disappointment I found a book that, while clever and wel
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've barely slept since picking this book up because I can't stop mulling it over in my mind. This book is so much more than a writing on God loving humans. It confronts the evil in mans heart towards our fellow humans and condemns the use of using scriptures to justify violence and vengeance. My favorite line is, "the way you interpret scripture exposes more about your heart than it doesn't about God". It addresses the many contradictions in the scriptures and how man manipulates those contradi ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God is one of the most eye-opening and challenging books about faith I have ever read. I grew up in the Bible Belt and I had know how much toxic and dangerous theology I had inherited from my local church environment.

Brian Zahnd's premise is as devastatingly simple as it is hopeful - Jesus is the perfect embodiment of God, and thus Jesus' life, death is the "perfect theology" we should strive to echo in our own lives. Along the way, Zahnd dismantles un
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a recovering fundamentalist, I have found this book to be very healing. Rather than the fire and brimstone gospel that has been touted to me so much, this book actually delves into Jesus, what he really taught and how God really is. God is love, not hate, not revenge. So, so important.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brian Zahnd was a big fan of the Angry God. As a young pastor, he carried around a handwritten copy of Sinner's in the Hands of an ANGRY GOD, Jonathan Edwards's famous sermon. He memorized portions of the sermon, in order to give preaching more of an edge, so he could draw sinners to repentance as Edwards had done. However, Zahnd since discovered the Father revealed to us through Jesus Christ is not the violent, angry, retributive monster god articulated in Edwards's sermon.

Wrestling with issues
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will make people uncomfortable, because we are so conditioned to see God as constantly angry and to see us as constantly failing to earn his love and respect. This book is a quiet, beautiful look at the gentle heart of God reflected in the prodigal son’s father, and it was incredibly refreshing. I love Brian Zahnd’s sermons and I can’t wait to read more of his books.
Heather Kidd
This is one of those books that I found myself highlighting paragraph after paragraph and needing different colours just so the highlighted sections would stand out. Brian has a gift for taking complex theological ideas and relating them in simple easy to understand and remember ways. His take on Revelations was different in some ways from what I've come across before and it really just made a lot of sense to me. Like pieces of a puzzle that I had been staring at for a long time finally found th ...more
Tristan Sherwin
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like many towns, our hometown has a monument. But when I first moved here, it was horrible to look at. It was entombed inside a sarcophagus of filth, chewing gum, mould, moss and pigeon muck. Then, a few years later, the council finally came along with a shot-blaster and a thing of beauty suddenly emerged. Underneath all those generations of layered grime was a work of art to behold.

In a similar fashion God has become a repulsive image to behold. Certain circles of Christian theology, with their
Blake Western
Sep 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
If Sinners in the hands of an angry God goes to the extreme, the book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, clearly goes to the other extreme. If you choose to magnify one attribute of God above all others, you will end up with a warped theology. To prove that God is not an angry God, the author takes great license in reconstructing Biblical teaching on basic beliefs. I would not recommend this book!
Timothy Margheim
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If I ever start a book club, this will be the first book we read.
Nancy DeValve
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Thought-provoking, irritating, and concerning are all words I would use to describe Brian Zahnd’s book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. Rev. Zahnd starts the book telling about his experiences as a child when much of the preaching centered around the wrath of God. People were scared into hell. His own favorite sermon was Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. He relates how he used to read the Chick Publication tracts (probably most of my readers are too young to remember ...more
Paul Jaehnen
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
BZ... what a guy. A good loving perspective that fights the cruel nature that God is portrayed in sometimes. Had me believing I was some sort of universalist at the end and I'm alright with that...I think haha ...more
Patrick Willis
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, theology
This was the first book that I've read within a day in a LONG time. Let that speak for what it's worth. I would also like to add, however, that just because I was able to read it fairly quickly and that in itself lends as a witness to the readability and intrigue of said book, it does not necessarily reflect my agreement with all of the material presented. That being said, I firmly believe that this is a book that most Christians (if not all) should read, not because what he said is necessarily ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
What is God truly like?  This is a question I have wrestled with.  My whole life I have heard people say, and have said myself, that God is a God of love and of justice.  Your sin deserves God’s eternal and unending punishment, or wrath.  You can avoid this punishment by trusting in Jesus for in Jesus we see God’s love.  In other words, God shows love to some and wrath to others.

              To hold this understanding leads to some unavoidable questions.  Does Jesus save us from a vengeful God?
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zanhd eloquently and sharply dismantles one common, broken image of God and introduces us to the reassuring truth of the love revealed in Jesus. This isn't "comprehensive" in that it won't answer every question or unpack every challenging text of scripture. But as a primer on Christocentric hermeneutics, it's a perfect way to reorient yourself to the grace, mercy and kindness of the Jesus Way. ...more
Aaron West
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: this-will-help
I could have finished this book in a few days, but I had a lot to think about between chapters. I was recommended this book by a friend who has good things to say about Brian Zahnd, and I was very pleased with it.

The book details Zahnd's views of God as a loving God—and lays out his anecdotal and more theological concepts of redemption, atonement, hell/heaven, and the love of God present here on earth, including a rich dive into Revelation.

The book juxtaposes the often traditional, reformed, wr
Dan Waugh
Jun 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is, honestly, the worst book I've read in years. The problem isn't so much that I disagree with the conclusions of the author. I read books often that I disagree with and still profit from. The problem with this book is that the reasoning is so bad I am forced to conclude that the author is either an idiot or being disingenuous. I don't think he's an idiot, so I am angered by his intentional use of straw men, cherry-picking texts while ignoring others (ie. the whole Pauline corpus), making ...more
Eric Marcy
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A concise but powerful prophetic word to the American church, rebuking the twistings of Jesus and theology in many wings of evangelicalism in the name of servicing American Empire and twisted views of sin and punishment. Zahnd's chapters on Hell and Revelation are particularly powerful and insightful, his illuminating of Revelation as a symbolic critique/satire of the Roman Empire is remarkable, making me want to revisit a book I have generally avoided due to distaste with conservative manipulat ...more
Joshua Scroggins
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my third book by Zahnd. (The first two: Water to Wine and Beauty Will Save the World.)

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God challenges what I would consider to be the conventional, evangelical Christian positions on violence. How are we to interpret the violent passages of both the Old Testament and the New (particularly Revelation)? Why would a loving God require the violent death of his Son into order to appease his own wrath? How do we reconcile the doctrine of hell and the belief in a
Fredy Orozco
Mar 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
AJ Bourg
Jan 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
A challenging read for sure—it is a much different perspective especially on some challenging questions about the Old Testament. However his position is both too simplistic and undefended: throw the Old Testament out.

For instance, Zahnd repeatedly quotes Hosea when God says that He desires “mercy and not sacrifice” and uses that to say that the Old Testament authors got it all wrong with the sacrifice system. Never minding that Jesus never spoke against it, always spoke about his place to fulfil
John Onwuchekwa
Apr 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Trash. Basura.

A book full to the brim of half truths and half baked conclusions. False dichotomies abound within these bounded page. For instance, the author constantly refers to “anger” as an enemy of “love”. That’s false. Anger isn’t love’s enemy, anger is often love’s expression.

That’s just one example of many.

It’s been said that “half truth, masquerading as a whole truth, is a complete untruth.” That statement could very well describe the contents of this book.

Corri Carpenter
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I could give more stars, I would.

I am a survivor of severe spiritual abuse. I grew up in a church (more specifically, in a youth group in a church) where we were taught about an angry God. A God waiting to condemn, a God who was disappointed, a God waiting to take away. We were subjected to all manner of emotional abuse - sleep deprivation, followed by lengthy and horrifying sermons, loud music that put my already-anxious heart on edge, and all the while feeling like I was doing everything w
Adam Shields
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: This book is designed to counter the concept of God as primarily wrathful as illustrated by Edwards sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Zahnd charts a course through scripture to counter the idea, briefly looking at Old Testament genocide passages before two long sections on the Crucifixion and the book of Revelation. Broadly Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God is trying to help the reader re-imagine God. This is done very differently, but to similar effect as James Bryan ...more
Rachel Post
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book rocked my world will not look at God and love and life the same. In a very messy world politics and the church and all the messages get very tangled and it is hard to see who God really is and who the world has depreciated him to be to fir their agenda. It’s almost hard to call myself a Christian anymore because of the connotation that word brings. It feels bigger it feels more than that. loving God is a connection with people and this world that is beyond church and beyond how you por ...more
Shawn Enright
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it
3 star writing, 4 star content. Zahn writes like he preaches, which isn’t always effective (too many unnecessary exclamation points, lots of “announcements,” like ‘In light of my previous point,’ rather than effective sentence transitions, etc). But! I love this book. I need to go back and do some deep dives on the verses that support of his argument, but at no point did I really disagree with him or his exegesis.

Hell as eternal conscious torment just isn’t Christian. I like that Zahn nonetheles
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Brian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. As the lead pastor, he is the primary preacher during our weekend services, and he oversees the direction of the church. Pastor Brian is a passionate reader of theology and philosophy, an avid hiker and mountain climber, and authority on all things Bob Dylan.

He and his wife, Peri, have three adult sons and f

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