1 Stars: Our Favorite Sins by Todd D. Hunter

Firstly, readers should know the author Todd D. Hunter is Anglican and this book is clearly written with Anglicans in mind. Hunter quotes from famous Anglican N.T. Wright, Anglican Henry Nouwen, Anglican Dallas Willard, the Book of Common Prayer, the Saturday Compline, Celtic Daily Prayer book, and more. So, if you're not Anglican, Church of England or Episcopalian and your theology does not agree with Anglican theology, you may not agree with some parts of this book. I was also very concerned with this author's use of the "New Age-ish" paraphrased Message Bible and found I could not read these paraphrased bible quotes. They are nothing at all like my NIV Bible. They don't even sound like Bible verses anymore! Also, readers should know that Hunter uses the Barna Group and David Kinnaman's stats throughout the book.

Now, when I read a book about sin, I expect the big, bad, ugly, deadly sins to be addressed with a good solution for overcoming them. Hunter dedicated a few very brief chapters that glossed over their subjects to barely mention or gloss over a few "sinful" topics that for the most part, aren't even in the Bible!: Anxiety, Procrastination (that's not even sin!), Eating, Lazy and Media (not really a sin either! Hunter attacks "Computer media" in this chapter but skips over ALL other forms of media, including the TV! This is like making a chapter called "Football" as a sin! It is not a sin! The obessession would be the sin, not the computer or internet or football.). So, I want to ask the author, where are the 7 deadly sins? Where are the sins in the 10 commandments? Where are sexual sins? In a book titled "Our FAVORITE sins", I am certain sex is one of the very favorites! So is greed. Anger? Unforgiveness? Pride? These are all WAY bigger, worse and more "favorite" to most humans than lazy and eating. Not everyone has a problem with eating! So many people are hard working so this sin hardly applies to humans across the board, but we all have issues with anger, unforgiveness and pride. This book misses the point entirely. And when the author does mention the 5 "sins" he chose, Hunter barely even mentions them. Instead, he tells us a story about "Lazy Larry" or "Media Mary". Please! How childish.

Okay, so Chapters 1-9 were useless, shallow and a waste of time. So how about the answer/solution chapters 10 and 11? Hunter is very into dropping the word "ancient" in referring to a path created 2,000 years ago and known to monks, so throughout the book and he encourages we use "ancient" knowledge/wisdom to solve our problem with sin. So 10 and 11 are titled "Ancient and Frutiful 1 and 2". Hunter encourages us to follow the advice of a monk known as Mark the Ascetic, "in order to position yourself above the aformentioned destrictive passions" make some "ascetic efforts or spiritual training exercises to reshape your interior evils (heart condition)." Hunter tells us to follow Mark's advice, "Struggle to put to death whatever is earthly (Col 3:5)", because Mark knew, "as do all monks "in the Jesus tradition" know, that our evil desires lead us to the burning of our souls in fire (Pg 142). So the big answer to overcoming sin, the correct path according to Hunter and Mark: solitude, followed by silence.

Pg 143, Huner explains the solitude is meant to be physical and "within the rhythms and routines of one's actual life." Hunter tells readers to "connect with Jesus through solitude" (Pg 143). Hunter tells readers to move into "silence", where we will become more alter and aware of our hearts. Hunter quotes Anglican Nouwen, "Silence is promarily a quality of the heart that leads to ever growing [love]." Hmmm.... somehow I'm not buying this. Hunter continues pg 146, "Through silence, apprentices of Jesus learn to be alter to their will, to what they really want and why they want it." Hmmm... can't say I agree with Hunter. I thought we were supposed to seek God's will, not our own selfish wills? Our human purpose is to bring glory to God, not seek our own.

The rest of the book is spent discussing liturgical prayers, sacraments and no real answers. Hunter was right that the solution to overcoming sin is that we need a change in our INNER selves, not only in our outer actions. However, his solution of silence and solitude (escapism/avoidance), liturgy, sacraments and ritual (religion) will not give us the inner change we desire.

HOW TO OVERCOME SIN: As a believer in Reformed theology, God has granted me the gift of overcoming all my ongoing sins through TRUE salvation and hearing the TRUE gospel according to Jesus (which is VERY different from what you've probably heard preached). Did you know the modern day "Christian" gospel is nearly the OPPOSITE of what Jesus preached in the Bible? If you didn't, read Walter Chandry's Today's Gospel or John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus. Anyway, through true salvation, I received the real Holy Spirit and an abhorrance of sin! Before that, I had heard the world's fake easy-believism gospel and always excused sin as "not so bad." Now that I have the Holy Spirit inside me, I realized how gross and horrible sin was! It's like this: Imagine your mother, child, loved one going up on a cross for YOUR personal sins - even for one sin. One single moment of anger. One single lie. Now you will see the lie isn't so small anymore, is it? How horrified you would be as you watched them suffer and die for hours. Believe me, when we get a view of how disgusting and distasteful our sins are, we won't be eager to return to them. When we realize how much one sin destroys and how horrible it is in God's eyes, we won't take our sin so lightly anymore. We overcome our sins by recognizing that God is amazing, perfect and above all, HOLY. When we recognize how sick our sins are and how very very VERY MUCH that we totally deserve hell and are convinced that we deserve hell and realize that there isn't even ONE SINGLE good thing inside us that would cause us to "deserve" or "earn" heaven, we realize that we need to fall at the feel to Jesus Christ and beg Him to draw us and come and make a home inside us with the Holy Spirit. It is after we are actually saved and receive the Holy Spirit, that we no longer want to sin. Now I'm not saying in a moment here or there, we don't have a thought or an angry feeling or unforgiveness but we abhore these sins so much that immediately, we turn to God and plead for Him to take those feelings away. We truly REPENT and TURN FROM OUR SINS. We no longer even wish to hold onto them anymore. That is true salvation from sins. Salvation from sins is not a halfway thing. If you have a near heart, you should not longer love sin. If you feel that you aren't at this point yet, pray and ask God to get you there. For years, my prayers were, "God, I know I'm not there yet, but do WHATEVER it takes to get me there." And I always meant whatever. A broken leg, a missing arm, a car accident, lost job, homeless - WHATEVER. Even when I didn't really feel like it, I prayed and asked for Him to find a way to get me there because I knew that God and Jesus Christ are the TRUTH. Don't forget, knowledge and believe won't save you. Salvation comes from OBEDIENCE and turning your whole life over to Christ and making HIM the LORD over your life. It is DYING TO SELF AND LIVING FOR CHRIST. Anything less is false assurance.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and choose the very best books.

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