As we enter into the Lenten season, I want to introduce you to my newest book – Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit and How You Can Quit. It may be a suitable Lenten reader for our churches. I would be delighted if for Lent this year you would suggest OFS to your congregation. If you would like a copy of the book, email me at this address and I’ll get it to you ASAP. Below is an introduction to the book.
The big idea of the book is this: most people, myself included, struggle every day with temptation. All too often, we fail and fall, and some of us are at our wit’s end, utterly defeated, living with perpetual guilt and shame. We are all familiar with not only the words but also the feeling expressed by the apostle Paul: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NKJV).
The big contribution, I hope, is this: my publisher, Thomas Nelson, and I hired the Barna Group to do exclusive, ground-breaking research of all Americans, not just churched people, on the topic of temptation. The survey reveals how Americans think and act when faced with life’s various enticements. Here is a couple startling findings: 50% of Americans simply don’t know what to do about temptation. Secondly, 59% of Americans say that the last time they were faced with temptation, they did nothing specific to avoid giving in to it.
This book is also distinctly Anglican. There are chapters describing how liturgy, sacrament and lectionary empower a life in the Spirit that strengthens us against temptation. In addition, every chapter ends with an exercise taken from the Book of Common Prayer or Celtic Daily Prayer.
Dallas Willard’s forward to the book may give you an additional feel for what I am up to:
Walking out of our favorite sins makes perfect sense after you have done it. But you need a biblical, psychologically sophisticated, pastoral guide to get you to that point. That is Todd Hunter. Sin is basically stupid and repulsive. But when you are in its snare – few aren’t – you can’t see that. The best thing about Our Favorite Sins is, it really does enable you to see sin for what it is. And then it gives small doable steps you can take to walk away.
Do you want to quit? You can. Just meditatively study this book and put it, gently but persistently, into practice. Don’t worry about perfection. If you ever get there, it will be safe for you. It’s when you aren’t there that it is dangerous – deadly! This book will do wonders for serious disciples of Jesus, and it would be great for small groups. But we’re talking world revolution here, which is exactly what Jesus had in mind: “Teach the disciples to do everything I said.” What else is there to do?
In the book I help readers see and believe that falling for temptation isn’t inevitable. We don’t have to lose the fight. In fact, we can win if we understand the root of the problem and what Christians have done from the beginning to beat it. Our Favorite Sins seeks to shine a light in our lives’ dark corners and reveals the time-tested methods, ancient practices, for getting victory over sin.
Endorsements for the book have been a great encouragement to me:
“The most deceptive part of sin is its ability to blind us to its reality in our lives. Todd Hunter offers sane and helpful guidance about the way out.”
-John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
“Todd Hunter gets it: Nothing should stand in the way of full devotion to Christ.
—Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
“This book speaks powerfully to some of my own deepest spiritual struggles. In offering candid, informed counsel on ‘our favorite sins,’ Todd Hunter has given me, and multitudes like me, an important spiritual treasure.”
—Richard Mouw, president, Fuller Seminary; author of Praying at Burger King
“One of the most persistent and least talked about questions for Christians are these: If sin is so bad, then why are we drawn to it? If it wrecks human lives – which it does, every time – then what is so appealing about its temptations? Is there any help for those who want to find freedom from sin? Todd Hunter has delved deeply into this matter, and in this excellent and accessible book Hunter offers us not only insight into why we sin, but how we can begin to turn from its false promises. The body of Christ needs this book.”
—James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God
“Todd Hunter draws on ancient practices in order to provide insight and strategy to face temptations in our lives. This book will help you think about how you can not just ask God to deliver you from temptation but be intentional about finding a way of escape.”
—Margaret Feinberg, author of Scouting the Divine and The Sacred Echo
“Todd Hunter is the only man I know who can talk about sin with an appealing easiness and, at the same time, with an equally appealing candor. I can almost guarantee that you’ll enjoy his conversation and end up very grateful for having had the chance to read it.”
—Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence
“One of the greatest intellectual achievements of the Christian tradition is its notion of original sin. People will make a mess of anything, of everything. Todd Hunter has gifted us with an inspiring book that suggests habits of holiness for everyday living and moving and having our being amid human suckitude and stinkiness. But most of all, Bishop Hunter gives us hope that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
—Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor, and chief contributor to sermons.com
“In Our Favorite Sins, Hunter combines modern language and research with classic understanding in providing a fresh look and at our most deadly sins. His suggestions for ‘ancient and fruitful’ practices will be very helpful to many in reorienting desire toward living life with God.”
—Gary W. Moon, Ph.D., executive director, Dallas Willard Center
“It is so easy to miss our potential in life due to getting caught up in our weaknesses and temptations. Todd helps us understand not only how to recognize the subtle sins that can distract us, but how to be like Jesus when facing them.”
—Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church