Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes by Jeff Cook is not a typical “here are the sins, here are the Beatitudes” type of book. Jeff uses the seven deadly sins and the Beatitudes to illustrate the life-giving, restorative power of God that is available to those who are broken but seeking God wholeheartedly.
Jeff Cook is a philosophy teacher and teaching pastor in Colorado, and he uses many of his life experiences to illustrate the details the of the points he makes in each chapter. These are more than his studies; he talks about his experiences with the church he helped found, his relationship with his wife and children, and people he taught and met through the university.
Jeff contrasts each deadly sin with a beatitude. But it is not a direct comparison/contrast. He begins each chapter by discussing the root problem of each deadly sin, and then moves on to discuss how the underlying problem that each sin manifests is truly healed by one of the Beatitude’s promises.
The common thread that Jeff uses to tie them together is the contrast of isolation vs. relationship; each of the deadly sins displays a way that the fantasy relief of sin pulls us farther into isolation from God and what He wants to accomplish in the world, but each of the beatitudes are an example of how the broken and desperate for God can be filled with the relationship of God and His Kingdom.
I really liked this book. It was not what I was expecting. It had great analogies do demonstrate the nature of relationship with God and others — I especially liked the breathing metaphor that signifies how we’re supposed to receiving from God and give to those around us.
There were a few comments that I didn’t entirely agree with; but they were mostly comments where my philosophy differed from his, and they weren’t central to the point of the chapter, so I didn’t have too much problem with them. One that I did have a problem with was the discussion of lust; the description of underlying problem with lust did not seem to move beyond sexual lust, and I really felt it should have covered lust in any form (lust for power, etc.). But that was my one issue with this book.
Overall I felt is really good, and gave me a lot to think about in terms of focusing on God’s desire for the world and allowing that desire to be fulfilled in my life as He wants it to be in the world, and also in terms of drawing in to community as an example of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I felt that the book was great inspiration to choose, not the fantasy life that sin uses to mask the pains and hurts of life, but the abundant life that God provides — the only real life there is.