The title of this book indicates an urgency in knowing the names of the seven deadly sins. But William White, a senior pastor of a large Lutheran church, writes that the preacher's goal is to announce the good news that we have already been forgiven. Unfortunately, this truth receives little emphasis until the last chapter of the book.
According to White, the task of preaching is not only to announce the ways of God but also to help people understand the ways that are not of God. He feels the sermon must identify and name sin by its right name. The author correctly acknowledges that this is no easy task. The preacher faces the trap of making people feel guilt without leading them to repentance. He argues that one of the reasons preachers avoid talking about sin is that they perceive the subject as too negative.
White points out that the preacher's greatest challenge is finding ways to awaken an awareness of sin in the hearer. His sermons focus on what he calls the seven deadly sins: pride (the great sin), envy (grumbling against God), anger (let God fight for us), sloth (forever spectators), greed (giving up our idols), (settling for sex only).
I feel the author missed what I believe to be the root of all sins--unbelief in God. This root disappears not by discussing the sinful fruit, but by lifting up Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is Christ who creates in us the conviction that we who are dead in sin cannot live any longer in sin.
Only the good news of God's love, forgiveness, and death can free the soul and nourish love. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19), and He has broken down the dividing wall that is the hostility between us (Eph. 2:14). "There fore, if any one is in Christ he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17, RSV).
The book's value lies in its demonstration of the power of proclaiming the gospel in a variety of literary styles. It gives us a timely word for our modern problem of self-deception, especially when we feel we are nice, virtuous, and decent people.