The Christian church in America has clearlybecome hypocritical and apathetic. Francis Chan sees it—and he's tired of Christ's body paralyzing itself through self-love and inattention to God's greatness. Crazy Love is a call to reform, a call to embrace Christ and serve Him fully. Former pastor of a 5000-member megachurch in Southern Califronia, Chan's message is passionate and concise, and nearly apostolic in its scope.
Christian books rarely convict us—they offend us even less.Some willfind Chan's book convicting because it's offensive,while otherswill simply find it offensive. He holds nothing back, describing lukewarm "Christians"anddeclaring no such person exists because to be lukewarm is to be non-Christian. He urges us to wash in the majesty, wonder, fear, and awe of God, to follow Him without thought to ourselves, even to turn from those we love if that's what it takes to love God more.
This isn't just a polemic against American Christians, though. Chan's call is universal, and rather than simply making blanket statements condemning the behavior of the Church at large, he follows each of those up with practical ways we can pursue God. Some of them are surprising, such as the chapter he begins with a call to stop praying. What are even more surprising, however, are his cogent reasons behind such seemingly counterproductive exhortations.
Crazy Love isn't flawless. At one point Chan talks about returning to the Bible and reading it as though he'd never read it before, objectively and without presuppositions. As noble as that might sound, this supposed objectivity is humanly impossible. No one can set aside alltheir own notions, ideas, memories—especially when it concerns the holy Word of God. Also, trying to disengage from the whole history of Christian exposition and doctrine is dangerous, at best.
He cangotoo far, implying that to be "sold out" is to do something "radical,"such as missions. He doesn't seem to give enough credence to the idea that a man simply providing for his family and serving God to the best of his ability is just asdevoted to God as the man healing diseased natives in Third World countries. He also assumes a lofty tone at times, as though he were enlightened andspeaking to those who aren't.
Probably the biggest problem withCrazy Love is the near-absence of the Gospel. We hear a lot about what we need to do, and very little about the finished work of Christ. This may be the result of Chan's Arminianism, and it may be the result of a legalism he doesn't want to preach outright. Whatever the case may be, read with caution, and compare everything Chan says to what God has revealed about Himself in His holy Word.
There's an extent to which such mistakes are unavoidable when making a call to behavioral change. Chan's message of reform is vital to the life of the Church and its continued health; at the same time, the mistakes he makes shouldn't be overlooked. If you're frustrated with the state of the evangelical church,your own assembly, oryour own lack of spiritual zeal and devotion to Christ, read this book....but read with caution and discernment. The response to lawlessness is NOT legalism, it's greater faith in and reliance on Jesus Christ and His finished work.
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.
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