Book Review - April 2014

Fallen: A Theology of Sin, Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, editors, 2013, Crossway, Wheaton, Ill., ISBN 9781433522123, 291 pages, $19.99, softcover.

Perhaps the hardest task of evangelism in the modern West is not in calling men and women to turn to Christ but rather drawing them to recognize their own sinfulness. The Gospel is only good news if we see the depth of our depravity and, thus, our need for forgiveness. Fallen winsomely rises to this task, giving Christians the resources to discuss sin biblically and thoughtfully.

Part of the Theology in Community series, Fallen brings together accomplished writers and thinkers, including D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, to shed light on this key (yet too often neglected) area of Scriptural teaching.

Over 11 chapters, the contributors explore what God's Word teaches about our sin and its consequences and also address contemporary application.

Carson opens the volume with the rationale for its writing, speaking to the universal nature of sin and the pressing urgency for Churches to understand it well and teach on it thoroughly.

Paul R. House devotes two chapters to unpacking the Old Testament understanding of sin, first from the Mosaic Law, and then from the histories, prophets, and poetic books. Robert W. Yarborough adds a chapter on the understanding of sin (and its critical impact on how we understand the Gospel) in the New Testament, and Moo's contribution focuses specifically on the subject in Paul's letters.

Christopher Morgan gives a thorough overview of the way man's sinfulness is threaded through the entire biblical narrative, and Gerald Bray traces the ways theologians have wrestled with and defined sin through two thousand years of Church history.

John W. Mahony considers how to bring these biblical and theological insights to bear on the contemporary world and fit today's twisted morality into these historical categories.

Sydney H.T. Page gives a philosophical explanation of sin, teasing out the responsibilities of Satan and man in bringing evil into the world and the role of sin in coherent theodicy.

David B. Calhoun's chapter on the distinction between sin and temptation offers a personal application of this theology for spiritual growth. Bryan Chappell closes the book with a ringing portrait of the beauty of the Gospel expressed in God's call for (and miraculous acceptance of) our repentance from sin.

This academic but engaging work is prophetically timely, as our world (and, too often, the Church) continually seeks to assuage its guilt by defining down sin. Fallen brings mankind's depravity to the fore, showing clearly our great need for a Great Savior. It should prove to be an excellent resource for pastors and Bible teachers to equip their churches and students to address the most pressing problems of today's world with biblical accuracy and Gospel compassion.

Justin Lonas

Target: Pastors/Teachers
Type: Theology/Hamartiology
Take: Highly Recommended

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