Signature Sins: Taming Our Wayward Hearts, By Michael Mangis

Signature Sins

Taming Our Wayward Hearts

by Michael Mangis

Signature Sins
  • Length: 244 pages
  • Published: August 25, 2008
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: 3515
  • ISBN: 9780830835157

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Finally--a safe place to talk about sin.

The topic of sin in general has been safe for a while. But here, guided by psychologist Michael Mangis, we get specific by learning to know ourselves and our signature sins--the individual and specific patterns of sin in our life that affect our thoughts, actions and relationships.

In these pages, the author empathetically and honestly reflects on the ways we manage our behavior to hide our sin and ignore the true poverty of our hearts. But until we deal with the root of our sin, we will be ruled and fooled by it, and miss the freedom Christ died to bring. Exploring common forms of sin and then discovering how our own temperament, culture, family and gender affect the way those sins manifest themselves in our lives will lead us to a place of real honesty with ourselves, God and others. But the book doesn't stop there; it also shows ways to combat our sin so that we can change our hearts, not just our behavior.

Sin is serious and specific, and it doesn't go away on its own. But here is serious--and safe--help for facing sin and finding freedom in Christ.

"Michael Mangis's book offers more than just diagnosis of our signature sins--it offers help and hope in the areas where we need it most. Of particular value is Mangis's thoughtful integration of psychology and spirituality as it relates to the subject of sin--something that is much-needed!"

Ruth Haley Barton, cofounder and president, Transforming Center, and author of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership

"Mangis says he wants to induce excitement on our Christian journey, not guilt or gloom. That is difficult to do in a book about sin, but he succeeds by helping us to recognize that sin is far more complex and grace is far more dynamic than we might have thought. By constantly reminding us that one size doesn't fit all, Mangis draws on Scripture and the Christian tradition, anecdotes from his own life and his practice as a psychotherapist, and a reservoir of helpful analogies to engage readers in an eminently practical and thoughtful examination of their own spiritual health with prescriptive suggestions for hearts that are prone to wander. What I found encouraging was his ability to integrate insights from the field of psychology with an honesty and humility that refrains from making Christianity obsequious to the social sciences."

Dennis Okholm, professor of theology, Azusa Pacific University and author of Monk Habits for Everyday People

"I often hear people distinguish between wisdom and knowledge. Michael W. Mangis brings the two together--in his personal life, in his teaching and now in this remarkable book, Signature Sins. Read this book. It is deeply informative, spiritually inspiring, written with clarity, filled with practical questions for self-reflection and saturated with an awareness of God's grace."

Mark R. McMinn, professor of psychology, George Fox University, and author of Sin and Grace in Christian Counseling

"Michael Mangis has provided an excellent resource for soul-care professionals and laity. Signature Sins is honest, comprehensive and accessible. Few writers could offer the blending of psychological scholarship and theological sophistication in a style that is warm and approachable."

Gary W. Moon, executive editor, Conversations and author of Falling for God

"Mangis is a subtle prophet-sage, confronting our sin while gently steering us between the shoals of legalistic sin management and psychological excuse making. His book is marked by beautiful contrasts: deep but simple; ancient but fresh; it is good integration that takes the Bible seriously. The author accomplishes a lot in a small space, combining practical spiritual direction with the insights of a Christian dynamic therapy. This will be useful for laypersons and pastors, counselors and their counselees, directors and their friends."

Eric L. Johnson, director, Society for Christian Psychology and author of Foundations for Soul Care

"Drawing wisdom from the worlds of both psychotherapy and spiritual direction, this introductory overview of vital disciplines for the Christian's inner life is clear, strong and robustly down-to-earth. Especially salutary is Mangis's stress on finding and fighting one's own core sin."

J. I. Packer, professor of theology, Regent College and author of Knowing God

"After embracing Christ's death as paying the penalty for our sins, Christians embark on a life of discipleship and growth by which we can experience increasing freedom from the bondage and power of sin. Signature Sins offers us insights from Scripture, tradition and contemporary psychology that illuminate that path of growth, helping us to see the patterns of our failings and offering us possibilities for increasing freedom."

Stanton L. Jones, provost, Wheaton College, and author of Ex-Gays? and the God's Design for Sex book series

A wonderful example of practical integration and a very helpful book for lay audiences.

Brad D. Strawn, Journal of Spiritual Formation Soul Care, Fall 2009

This is not intended as a scholarly work, but as an engaging challenge to all Christians to do one of the more important things we are supposed to do: examine our consciences and hold ourselves and one another accountable for the faith that is in us. This the author does well. His impressive book is warmly recommended.

Daniel Muth, The Living Church, March 22, 2009

Each chapter ends with helpful questions to facilitate one's own spiritual journey, and the book ends with additional chapters a small group could use. This makes this resource particularly helpful and practical. An important contribution to the literature on spiritual formation and Christian integration. A helpful reminder of the state and condition of sin that extends into all facets of human experience

Mark Yarhouse, Limning the Psyche, (, October 12, 2008

Rich in serious (but not solemn) insight and advice.

Library Journal, October 1, 2008

Rich in serious (but not solemn) insight and advice.

Library Journal, October 2008


1 Why Do We Sin?
2 Pride, Envy, Anger and Gluttony
3 Lust, Greed, Sloth and Fear
4 Naming Our Signature Sins
5 Temperament and Sin
6 Culture, Ethnicity and Sin
7 Gender, Family and Sin
8 The Biology of Sin
9 Spiritual Disciplines to Tame the Wayward Heart
10 Formation in Community
11 Spiritual Rhythms of Sin and Grace
12 Restoring Spiritual Balance
13 Becoming Who We Are in Christ
Questions for Group Discussion

Michael Mangis

Michael Mangis is a professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also a practicing psychologist and cofounder of the Center for Rural Psychology in Elburn, Illinois. His research interests include integration of psychology and theology as well as rural psychology. Signature Sins is his first InterVarsity Press title.