Top 5 Recommended Books on Sin (Hamartiology)

It is hard to actually understand what our salvation actually entails unless we understand exactly what we are being saved from. What follows in this post is my top 5 recommended books on hamartiology (the doctrine of sin).

#1 Cornelius Plantinga Jr. Not the Way It’s Supposed to be: A Breviary of Sin. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).

This is a timely book that helps its readers to rethink how they view their sin. Now what makes this book great is that Plantinga does not simply rehash the topic at it has always been spoken of. Rather, he presents the topic with careful correlations to our current culture. He helps the reader understand the parasitic quality of sin and shows how it spreads like a disease. He writes with greater creativity than I could ever imagine writing with so that the reader of this book is drawn in and convicted. He writes in such a way that by the end of the book the reader should be on their knees in repentance to God.

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+ (Basically everyone MUST read this!)

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price:$15.98 (Amazon)

# 2 Christopher Morgan (ed). Fallen: A Theology of Sin (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013).

This book is part of the incredible “Theology in Community” series from Crossway. Christopher Morgan has gathered contributors such as D.A. Carson, Doug Moo, Robert Yarbrough, Bryan Chappel, and several others. With names like that, what is not to like! This book does an excellent job of covering topics such as “Sin in Paul,” “Sin in the law,” “Sin in Historical theology,” and other topics. It does a great job covering what the Bible teaches about sin from Genesis to revelation. This book is much more comprehensive than the book mentioned above as it does cover the whole Bible’s teaching on the topic. But don’t let that make you think that this book has no practical significance as Bryan Chappel ends this book with a helpful chapter on repentance so that when the reader finishes this book they end in repentance for their sins. This book is an excellent book that dives deep into scripture so we can understand where sin came from, what God thinks about it, and how we should respond to it.

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+ (Basically everyone MUST read this book as well!)

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price: $14.91 (Amazon)

# 3 Henri Blocher, Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2000).

This book is one of the first few books in one of my favorite theology series of all time (New Studies in Biblical Theology ed. D.A. Carson). Henri Blocher is Professor of Systematic Theology, Faculte Libre de Theologie Evangelique, Vaux-sur-Seine, France. He has given us an excellent biblical theology of original sin dealing with a lot of the philosophical issues as well. He spends most of the time examining two main texts. First, he spends time examining Genesis 2-3 relating it to modern scientific understanding. Second, he spends time interpreting Romans 5 and the relationship between Adam and Christ. This is a well written book from one of the most fantastic theologians of this century. He is french so he can be difficult to read and understand at times.

Readability: Moderate

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+

Quality rating: 4 stars

Price: $18.20 (Amazon)

#4 Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012).

This is a classic book on the topic of Sin. Martin Luther, Christian theologian partly responsible for the reformation (not to be confused with the Civil Rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.), has left us an incredible gem on this topic. While not specifically addressing the doctrine of sin in a direct way he does a fantastic job of describing sin’s effect on us in binding our wills. He explains that we have a complete inability to save ourselves and thus shows the exorbitant need for Divine grace and Divine salvation out of the bondage of our wills.

Readability: Advanced

Recommended reader: The Amateur Theologian+

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price: $14.75 (Amazon)

# 5 Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves (ed.), Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014).

In this book the editors, Madueme and Reeves, argue that “the traditional doctrine of original sin is not only orthodox but is also the most theologically cogent synthesis of the biblical witness” (pg. xii). The book begins by arguing for the importance of the historical Adam, including a non naturalistic evolutionary view of them (that is, they are not descended from primates or some other creature. They are distinct creations of God). Then through the rest of the book they show the connection between the historical Adam and original sin. They conclude that if we reject the historical Adam then we must rethink original sin and this would leave us without a “recognizable Christian gospel” (pg. 210). This book is a good resource dealing with foundational issues to our theology of original sin. I recommend this book to the amateur theologian as it would be helpful to have a good understanding of original sin before tackling this book.

Readability: Moderate

Recommended reader: The Amatuer Theologian+

Quality rating: 4 stars

Price: $20.42 (Amazon)


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