Dangerous Virtues Review

Book Review: 

This is a book on the theology of sin. I consider it a breath of fresh air as we are living in times were post-modernism is at an all time high.

A good reminder that God is the only one to define good and evil – not us.

Society as a whole is becoming more and more insensitive to the things of God. Sadly, this same behavior is finding its way into some “Christian” circles.

As a book on sin, it naturally addresses the question “what kind of behavior constitutes sin?”

The author writes;

“In an age that has learned to call evil good and good evil, the seven deadly sins are now the seven dangerous virtues.”
The point the author is making is that we now see sin as good and that’s a dangerous thing. (More on the seven capital sins a bit later)

The book is basically broken into 3 main parts:

• Our attitude towards sin

• Different kinds of sins

• How we should respond to sin

In explaining our attitude towards sin, I think the author sums it up rather well in this quote:

“We are sinners. We don’t deny it. But most of the time, we don’t think much about it. We don’t seem to obsess about sin the way the ancients used to, at least not about our own sins. We don’t punish ourselves or go to the extreme measures to fight sin off. Most of the time, our sin feels more like a low-grade fever than it does a raging fire. Its presence is an ongoing irritation that may hinder us from being our best, but it doesn’t keep us from functioning. Sin doesn’t bother us that much, either. If anything, the fact that we are sinners serves as an escape clause when things go badly.”
The idea is that because we are sinners it’s ok for us to sin. We are expected to sin, because that’s who we are. But in such view not only we degrade the severity of sin but we take an irresponsible approach to it. Its a way of us not assuming responsibility for our actions.

Our response to sin should be the same response God has towards sin.

We should be angry, we should hate it and also we should repent and work not to do it again. (repentance is exclusively a human response).

We must not forget that sin is an offense against the One Holy God.

The fact of the matter is that sin has always been sin. In other words, what was sin from the beginning is still sin now, and will be sin tomorrow. God’s definition of sin doesn’t change. It is us that look for new ways to twist God’s definition of sin.

Then he goes on to show the world’s diluted view of sin in action as it relates to the seven capital sins:

• Gluttony

• Fornication

• Greed

• Sadness

• Anger

• Sloth

• Pride

Two common approaches to viewing and handling sin are presented: medical and athletic.

Medical – when we deal with sin in a medical fashion, we see it as a decease and it simply takes medicine to cure it.

The athletic approach to sin is that of one being deficient in one particular area and it would simply be a matter of “training” for one to improve on it.

But both views on sin undermine the gravity of sin. The main idea is that sin is just a small deficiency in our character, a matter of wrong choices or simply one’s choosing a particular “lifestyle” and that with the right “focus” things could be fixed. In either case, it neglects to recognize who God is and how God views sin.

Sinning, ultimately is a function of who we are. And we are wicked and of perverse hearts. We sin because we are sinners, because our hearts are inclined towards evil and without a new heart there is no remedy. Heart that only Jesus can give.

The last portion of the book is dedicated to “how we should respond to sin”. I like the fact that he presents sin and our response to it in a non romanticized way. He shows it for what it is…an ongoing battle. Sometimes we will lose, sometimes we will win, but we should continually fight without letting our guard down.

As the book progresses on, the author brings some much needed clarity on our response to sin. He notes that our erroneous response to sin comes from a wrong view of sin.

Doing so, he highlights that the church in general has not done a good job in understanding the difficulty some believers have in turning away, the seriousness of sin has been minimized and/or sin has been neglected altogether.

This is in no way justifying believers’ sinning, but instead showing the seriousness of sin and that “hard work” is needed to overcome it.

“Sin may still seek to influence us, but it no longer owns us.”
“There is victory in Jesus, but the sentimentalized rhetoric that the church sometimes uses to speak about that victory often gives the impression that victory over sin is instantaneous and easily won.”
This side of eternity we are waging a war against sin, not only on the outside but from within. Again it may be hard to wage war against sin, but there is victory in Jesus. “For who the Son has set free, he is free indeed.”

Note: book graciously gifted by Moody Publishers for an honest review.

Feel free to pick up a copy from Moody or Amazon.