The debate around the proper interface between science and faith has widened in recent years beyond the confines of creation versus evolution. Nearly every area of human life is now contested. Matthew Stanford, an expert in psychology, neuroscience and bio-medical studies has spent most of life wrestling with a particular aspect of this debate : the question of how our biology interacts with our sinful behaviour. His latest offering, The Biology of Sin: Grace, Hope and Healing for Those Who Feel Trapped aims to deal with what he sees as the lack of of informed discussion on how the brain functions and how that should be understood in light of what the Bible teaches about human nature and personal responsibility.
The book is for anyone struggling with sin, which of course means all of us. As he says at the beginning, “People who have done very evil things are more like you and me than we may want to admit. Most have dreamed of better lives for themselves and desperately want to change but don’t know how”. As individuals it is particularly helpful to know the dangers of allowing certain sins or behaviours taking root in our lives, especially where we may have specific biological dispositions to certain actions.
A clearer understanding of the nature of sin, in all its manifestations and dispositions, should also help us support other people. Stansford helpfully observes that, “sin is a ruthless beast: crouching at the door, waiting to consume us all. When we encounter those whom it has overcome, we should feel sorrow rather than self-righteous pride”. It is therefore not surprising that a book such as this is particularly helpful for church leaders who may find themselves dealing with members in the congregation struggling with deeply ingrained sins.