It's hardly a contestable point that modern Westerners are selfish. For some it's a source of shame, but for others it's a source of pride and a cause to celebrate—"Look out for No. 1! Do what feels right!" Selfishness, however, is just a form of separation, and keeps us from experiencing the one thing God has given us for our own growth and development: community.
In Connecting, Dr. Larry Crabb looks hard at community and its implications for Christian life. Crabb believes that Christian community is God's primary design for bringing his people to obedience, selflessness, and healing service to others, and that through the interactions that real community provides the people of God are able to release the power of Jesus in each others' lives.
If that sounds a little too weird and mystical for you, Crabb's explanation is much more concrete and recognizably biblical. He grounds his conception of Christian community in God's Trinitarian community, and stresses the idea that it is Christ's power through us, not our own power, that is being released into peoples' lives.
A three-stage rubric for achieving healing community is provided early on: delight in each other as Christ delights in us, find the good passions and desires in the other person that will or can lead them to make God-honoring decisions, and expose what is sinful and painful in the other. Crabb believes that this inversion of the normal therapeutic approach (starting with the negative and ending with the positive) is the only sure way to get to the root of the issues that plague us.
The first stage involves simply enjoying the other person, celebrating their status as redeemed. The Bible makes it plain that in Christ our sinful nature has been transformed, and that while it still remains we are now predisposed toward the good, a predisposition that must be understood and celebrated. The second stage is related, and means finding the impulses stemming from this new nature that need to be identified and cultivated in order for someone to progress in sanctification. The final stage is simply to reveal the sin that has caused the problem and how it can be fought.
Crabb doesn't believe in psychological disorder as such—he believes it is simply a manifestation of the lack of healthy community for which we were created. But this community he envisions is specifically Christian because it is built on the recognition that because we live in a fallen world, only those who have been confronted with their need for divine forgiveness and who have received it can realize this community on earth.
This denial of psychological disorder as a purely physiological problem also leads him to a suspicion of the need for professional therapists (surprising, given the fact that Crabb is a professional therapist!). If his vision for Christian community were brought to fruition, he says, there would be no need for therapists at all since everyone would be helping and counseling each other all the time.
And this reveals Crabb's heart in writing Connecting. He isn't interested in pat answers to problems or selling a video series of lectures. He is interested in leading Christians to biblical, Gospel-centered truth to release them from bondage to sin and human philosophies that keep them trapped in broken spirals of harmful behavior.
Crabb's penchant for mysticism does make him say some eyebrow-raising things at times. For instance, a chapter near the end of the book on developing a Spirit-inspired vision for others smacks a little too strongly of direct revelation and purpose-driven living. At the same time, he's careful to say that these "visions" will always comport with biblical revelation (but if we have the biblical revelation, why do we need the visions?).
Still, this is an excellent book, and one that goes far beyond any limited audience. While community group leaders, Bible study leaders, and pastors could doubtless gain much from it, it is simply for Christians, and is highly recommended. A thorough study guide printed at the back lends itself both to private and group study; Connecting makes an excellent companion to Crabb's book Inside Out.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?