Ellinson demonstrates that awareness of sin is shown to lead to freedom and joy, as the pressure is removed to do and be good all the time. The book's other primary aim is to flesh out an alternative approach to life to Rick Warren's and the dominant American Christian vision. This alternative, life of brave sinning, is rooted in the worldview of the Protestant Reformation (esp. of Martin Luther). When people sin bravely, believing everything done is done in sin, people can get out of the way and recognize that all the good done is done by God despite individual seedy motives. This awareness leads to freedom and joy, since the pressure is now removed to do and be good. In addition, total dependence on God entails a self-forgetfulness that leads to happiness. The bolder one acknowledge's their sin, in failing to take credit for the good done, the more focused on God the individual becomes. Correspondingly this self-forgetful lifestyle is a promising counter-cultural alternative to the cultural Narcissism which so dominates in many segments of contemporary American society. The book provides practical ways to sharpen these insights, to 'own' them.
The final chapters of the book aim to clarify why the lifestyle of brave sinning and total dependence on God lead to happiness, with an emphasis on current neurobiological research on happiness and brain function. The book, then, demonstrates both the how and why brave sinning leads to joy, while in so doing offers readers practical advice on living this way. This is an academic book with a lot of practical value.
Mark Ellingsen is Associate Professor of Church History at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta.
INTRODUCTION Why It's More Fun To Be Brave In Your Sinning; 1. Rick Warren and American Christianity: What's Good and What's Bad; 2. How Purpose-Driven Living Can Lead To a Life That's All About You: The Burden of Self-Centeredness; 3. An Augustinian Re-Education about Sin: Relevant Genetic Data; 4. An Introduction To Brave Sinning: A God-Centered Life; 5. Brave Sinning Makes for a Joyful Life! Neurobiological Data; 6. How Brave Sinning Could Change American Life; CONCLUSION Sin Bravely!