Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book Review: Our Favorite Sins

In Our Favorite Sins Todd Hunter has written a helpful book on effectively dealing with temptation.  So many people talk about defeating temptation by changing behaviors, avoiding certain situations, or giving it a white knuckle, college try.  None of these methods are effective for lasting victory over sin.  The reason, as Hunter stresses over and over in the book, is not behavioral change but heart/desire change.

Our behaviors flow out of our desires.  Giving in to temptation is a sign that a disordered desire has a primary place in our hearts.  Victory of sin and temptation will not come until we have replaced disordered desire with divine desire, until we want Jesus Christ and his Kingdom more than we want anything in this temporal, sin-laced kingdom.

Hunter breaks up his book into 2 main parts.  The majority of the book discusses the idea of disordered desire and the role it places is our battle against temptation.  In the second part of the book he looks at ancient practices (spiritual discipline) as a means to re-ordering desires and bringing them into alignment with Christ.  Hunter draws here on his experience as a Bishop in the Anglican church, as refers to Anglican practices like the sacraments, fasting, following a lectionary, and praying a liturgy.  The second section of the book was not as helpful or interesting to me because of my background, denominational ties, and previous familiarity with spiritual practices but it may be very helpful to someone who is looking to get more meaning and benefit from a particular church association.

At one point I was worried that Hunter would lean to heavily on spiritual practices to bring about re-ordered desire, and not enough on the gracious, transformative work of the Holy Spirit.  I was relieved to find that Hunter refers multiple times to a person coming alongside the ongoing work of the Spirit.  Hunter is not a Pelagian.  He recognizes that complete re-order of desire won't happen on earth.  I think he is also encouraging that Christians mustn't think of themselves as victims and hopeless to fall into sin.  Our hearts can be transformed.  Step by step, day by day, we can put on the character of Christ.  By following Hunter's advice and placing ourselves into the story God is telling we can begin living for something larger than little sins.
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