546 of 577 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Paradigm-Shaking Book
There are many voices critiquing the North American church today. The voices come from both within and without; from those who love the church and those who hate it. We all know that there is something wrong. But what? In many cases the prescription is the same while the cure varies widely. In his new book Crazy Love, first-time author Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone...
Published on April 28, 2008 by Tim Challies
816 of 917 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dangerously close to works-based salvation
I think the message of Crazy Love is GREAT. Christians need a wakeup call, jump start, etc. I have no doubts this book was inspired divinely. I just don't feel that the way it was presented is as divinely inspired.
Chan spends the first eighty pages right on target with his message: Christians need to live as Christ called us. We should live sacrificially, we...
Published on June 7, 2009 by B. Roberson
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)This book was recommended by my pastor, and after listening to Francis Chan's podcast for weeks I was excited to read this book. I have been thrilled with what I have heard from Francis Chan's teaching, he is challenging in a way that I think a lot of preachers are afraid to be today. Chan is not afraid to present what he feels the church should be, and when preaching he conveys these ideas with hope and encouragement along with a challenge to act these things out in our daily lives. While I am sure that many "older" Christians might be able take this book as a genuine challenge to live their faith more boldly, I find very little in the way of encouragement in this book. I think that this book is downright dangerous to newer Christians. I at least thought I had been growing in my faith over the last several months, but this book put a nice big question mark over all of that. Frankly, by the time I was finished reading this book, I didn't feel in any way inspired to be a better Christian... I felt like I had been torn into little pieces, I felt destroyed. I am lucky enough to work in the same building as our youth pastor, and fortunately (I love how God works) I bumped into him in the hall, and we had a brief conversation that did a pretty good job of patching me up, but I hate to think how I would be doing right now if I wasn't that fortunate.
34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)First off, I would say that I respect the author & what he is trying to do. I also think that I learned some good lessons from studying this book & I am now thinking more carefully about decisions I make.
However. I must say I would not recommend studying this book. Here's why.
Francis Chan does state in the book that he does not believe works are necessary for salvation. I was grateful that he said this, because I felt the rest of the book did not reflect this. I felt that he was saying being responsible and thinking through your decisions wisely is not very important or necessary. That is what bothered me the most about this book. Also, while I agree that most of the American church needs to be "jump-started", it seemed like he was trying to accomplish this through guilt. Overall, I just felt confused by this book.
So, while this book might be good for a read-through, I would recommend rather reading books from Jerry Bridges such as Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love or a book on God's sovereignty (something I felt was lacking in Crazy Love) such as Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. Or, if you are a new Christian, a book like Basic Christianity (IVP Classics) by John Stott. Let these books shape the way you think & therefore live.
81 of 104 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing and discouraging,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)I'm not going to write much because most of the other one-star reviews capture the idea. This book made me feel depressed and discouraged, as if there was really no way I could ever do it right, no way I could ever be anything more than "lukewarm". And I am one of those people who (at one point in my life) actually did sell all of my possessions and move to a third-world country to help the poor because God called me to. Though I know I'm far from perfect, I thought I was at least pointed in the right direction. This book made me feel like why should I even bother? Nothing I can ever do will be good enough, so I shouldn't even try.
Not even touching on theology (a lot of other reviews already have), this book just felt wrong. Rather than inspiring me to draw closer to Christ, it pushed me further away. I definitely wouldn't recommend this... there are lots of other actual good Christian books out there that are inspiring, encouraging, motivating, and theologically sound. Try, for example, Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Believes we have to be dirt poor and suffering to show love,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)I'll admit, I only read parts of this book and threw it in a drawer. I have issues with Chan's concepts of "suffering" for Jesus to prove our dedication to God. He seems to equate being poor with being a good Christian. While God might call some people to sell all they have and go to the missions field, I don't believe that God works the same through all of us. He seems to believe we have to "work" to show our righteousness, when Jesus has already made us righteous by dying on the cross. I would be exhausted if I had to jump through all the hoops he seems to think are necessary to prove that you are a "good" Christian. God's will for each person's life is not the same.
For example - he seems to think a missionary is ready for sainthood because he had all his teeth pulled out so he would never have to leave the missions field again to go to the dentist. Sorry - but I don't believe God requires you to give up all your good teeth to serve him! He seems to equate how dedicated you are to God by how poor you are and how much of a self-righteous sacrifice you make to serve God. While I agree that there are LOTS of complacent Christians out there, it's because they have not submitted themselves to God's word and they have not experienced the true love of Jesus. I don't believe that God requires us to be poor and barefoot and constantly starving in order to serve Him. To me that is just poor theology.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing and Unconvicting,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)I think the five most convicting words in the Bible are "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). I understand that James does not teach salvation by works; James teaches that someone with a living faith will be transformed and therefore produce works. As Martin Luther put it, "We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone." But James makes it tough to have assurance of salvation. Instead of asking "have I done enough good works?" the question shifts to "have I been transformed enough?" or "do I love Jesus enough to be saved?"
Basically the point of this book is that Francis Chan is saying that for many Christians, the answer is no, you do not love Jesus enough to be saved. Chan makes no bones about this position. He says in chapter four that "a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are `lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven." That has more or less been my reading of James, so I actually went into this book more or less agreeing with Chan.
And that takes me to my review. I found the book surprisingly shallow. One of the things I like about reading books by good preachers and theologians is that they can show me new riches in the Bible. You learn a new layer of meaning in one Jesus' parables or how an event on the Old Testament points to Christ and these things make your heart sing. Yet Chan does not do this. To put it in modern terms, his theology "scans" shallow. In concrete terms, there aren't the word studies and ancient Greek and Hebrew lessons and a rich theological framework that both convicts and yet shows the beauty of Christ at the same time. Instead it is a lot of Chan's introspection punctuated with Bible verses. His book is like asking a random high school student to write about God. You'd get introspection peppered with sort-of appropriate passages from scripture. I'm not knocking high school students, just saying that you expect to be shown great riches from a well known and spiritually mature pastor.
Moreover, some of Chan's theology is clearly wrong. For example, in chapter four Chan makes the case for how Christians are lukewarm. He does this with a series of Bible versus that show what God expects from us and then contrasts that with his comment about how the lukewarm really are. If you too can't live up to these verses, then you too must be lukewarm and bound for hell! A representative example of the versus Chan quotes is Jesus' summary of the law: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37) The implication is that if you don't love God with all your heart then you are lukewarm and going to hell. Chan's reading of that verse is simply wrong. It is true that Jesus summarized the Law that way, but there was nothing new or surprising in that. That was the generally understood summary of the Law, even among Pharisees.
Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus hung out with the sinners and the tax collectors, and that bothered the Pharisees who had had good works. The Pharisees behaved much better than all those sinners. They thought Jesus was a "liberal Christian" who was relaxing the Law. So one of the Pharisees tested Jesus by asking Jesus what someone must to do to get eternal life. He expected Jesus to say "Oh, just believe in me and you'll have eternal life" and then the Pharisee could expose Jesus as a fraud who did not respect the Law. Instead Jesus turned the question around and asked him what was written in the Law. The Pharisee answered by saying to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Again, that was the well-understood and consensus summary of the Law shared by virtually everyone of that time. Jesus replied, "You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live." Now, if the Pharisee had the Holy Spirit with him, he would have said, "I can't do that. It's too hard for a sinner like me to live up to that perfect example of love. I have a wicked and sinful heart that is guilty of self-love." Then Jesus would offer forgiveness. But instead the Pharisee wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus "And who is my neighbor?"
It was at this point, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. There are many lessons in all of Jesus' parables. At a shallow level, Jesus showed the Pharisee that didn't really treat everyone as a true neighbor. The Pharisee didn't treat those that he considered to be impure sinners as neighbors. But there is also a deeper lesson. That lesson is that Jesus is the ultimate Good Samaritan. We are like the helpless victim in the parable. We are dead in our sins, and yet Jesus found us, felt mercy for us, and then saved us by paying the price to fix us up.
This is the true lesson of "crazy love" but it is one that Chan does not teach: the Gospel is God's free gift for us sinners who *can't* love God with all our hearts. If were capable of loving God with all our hearts, then we would easily follow the Law and lead a sinless life and get to Heaven on our own righteousness. In presenting these types of scriptures to convict the lukewarm Christian, Chan suggests that the non-lukewarm Christian really can love God with all his heart, but that is simply wrong. It is so badly wrong that I hardly even know where to begin.
Chan seems to consistently misunderstand the Gospel. In fact, at one point in the book (41%) he said that he eschewed commentaries and opted instead to read through the Gospels again. He said that doing this reinforced his argument about lukewarm Christians. For example, Chan quotes from the Sermon from the Mount to convict lukewarm Christians. Now, the Sermon on the Mount does a great many things, but one of its functions is to show the truest and purest expression of the Law that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In other words, the Sermon was Jesus giving the Law. Moses gave the Law from Mount Sinai, and Jesus recapitulated it in the Sermon on the Mount. But the thing about the Law is that no one could live up to it. Who hasn't been angry with a brother without cause? Who hasn't looked at a woman in lust? Who can live by the standards by which we judge others? Not me. Not you. And not Chan. The purpose of the Law is to be a reflection that reveals to us our own sin, and our need for a savior. The Law teaches us that we need Jesus.
Chan does not even seem to realize this. The implication of the book is that if you really loved Jesus, if you really were truly and deeply transformed because you know God, then you too could live up to the standards of the Sermon on the Mount. Thus Chan concludes (at 41% on the Kindle), "My conclusion? Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a "Christian" without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd." But if we could give our all to Christ, then we don't actually need Christ's death to save us. We could do it on our righteousness.
Chan sometimes realizes the impossibility of what he is asking. After he presents all these versus to convict lukewarm Christians, he says (43%) that, "I don't want true believers to doubt their salvation as they read this book. In the midst of our failed attempts at loving Jesus, his grace covers us. Each of has lukewarm elements and practices in our life; therein lies the senseless, extravagant grace of it all."
Wow! So my question is: what is a "true believer" and how are they, with their "lukewarm elements", different than a lukewarm Christian? Why are the "true believers" saved by grace but not the lukewarm Christian? Maybe the "true believers" are only lukewarm 10% of the time but the lukewarm Christians are lukewarm 90% of the time? Where is the cutoff? Where do you pass from being a lukewarm Christian to a devoted true believer? On Judgment Day when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, will he say "sorry, you were lukewarm 43.27% of the time. Not good enough. Off to hell you go." I hope not, and that certainly isn't my reading of the Gospel.
In fairness, Chan does give some criteria (43% on the Kindle) to help make the distinction between the lukewarm Christian and the true believer. First he says the distinction is perfection, but Chan is sensible enough to immediately point out that no one will obtain perfection until we go to heaven. So Chan tries again, and suggests that the distinction is a "posture of obedience and surrender, where a person perpetually moves towards Christ." That's better, and not too far off from a Biblical point of view. But given that Chan admits that "true believers" have failed attempts to love Jesus, their movement is not perpetually towards Christ either! Even "true believers" take steps forwards and one step backwards. So I assume Chan means the overall arc of the "true believer's" life is towards Christ. Fair enough. But where on heaven and earth does Chan get the authority to judge himself and other "true believers" as on perpetual arc towards Christ, but all those lukewarm Christians as on their way to hell? Does he really know the arcs of the lives of those he deems to be lukewarm and unsaved? Does he know where they started from? Does he know where they will end out on their deathbed? Does Chan know the plans and tests and tribulations that God plans for these lukewarm Christians? I don't think so.
And why is a consistent arc towards God necessary for salvation? Yes, sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit and thus you'd generally expect that someone who has accepted the Spirit into their lives would gradually grow more sanctified - albeit with many dry patches and lukewarm spots mixed in. But that is not always the arc of the believers life. Isaac regressed in his walk with God. My understanding of Scripture is that Isaac was not a young boy when God told Abraham to sacrifice him. Isaac was old enough to know what Abraham was doing, and so he had to have consented to it. Isaac showed a mature and Christ-like attitude. But where did Isaac finish his walk? What did Isaac do on his deathbed? He planned to directly disobey God by giving his blessing to Esau! And he wanted to have one last taste of his favorite food! How sad. Isaac regressed from being self-sacrificing and obedient to God to selfish and disobedient. By contrast, Abraham spent the last of his life planning to get his son married to continue the messianic line. Isaac should have done the same for Jacob.
Instead of being selfish, Isaac could have sent a wealthy servant to Laban to acquire Leah (I'm assuming Leah was Jacob's true wife since she carried Christ's line, even though Jacob loved Rachel more). That would also have avoided the polygamy and the mess it made in Jacob's life. But on the other hand, I'm glad that God chose a weak believer like Isaac. It teaches that periods of spiritual dryness are a part of the life of every believer and that some people may be unfortunate enough to die in the middle of one. Does that cost them their salvation? Is Isaac in hell along with all the other lukewarm Christians that Chan judges? I don't think so.
Now, let me back up and clarify a few points. There are many people who call themselves Christians but who haven't really repented their sins and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They may have an intellectual belief in God, but their heart hasn't been opened to the Holy Spirit. I'm always skeptical of the Barna studies, but a recent one found that a quarter of born again Christians hold universalists beliefs, and if anything, that strikes me as being too low. Universalists are almost certainly going to hell because Jesus isn't really their Savior.
And I think that lukewarm Christianity really is a big problem with the church today. I don't know if its because our society is too rich, or to secular, or too sexually immoral, or something else. But either way, lukewarm Christianity is a real problem. I wish that Chan had written a book about living by the Holy Spirit and growing in your relationship with Jesus. Instead he wrote a book of bad theology that misunderstands the Gospel and doesn't clearly distinguish between sanctification and justification.
41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars tanks in chapter five,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)I enjoyed what he had to say in the first four chapters... but I found his thoughts on salvation starting in chapter five to be disturbing and biblically unsound.
Although he says he doesn't believe it's "works for salvation," that is essentially what he is saying. Lukewarm Christianity is both a tragedy and a reality that the author claims doesn't exist. I disagree.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Class Warfare and Politics,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)Before sitting down to read this book I was excited, like many other reviewers I was under the impression that I was going to be taking a journey into the heart and soul of my Creator to understand more deeply how much he loves His children and how we may, in response, come closer to Him. This was not the case at all.
Chan writes that his view on religion was clouded by inaccurate teachings so what does he do? He instead begins to pick apart the words of the gospel, selectively editing the text to fit his own predetermined dogmatic view of what it means to live "the Christian life." Chan goes on to explain how the rich need to sell everything they own and give all they have to the poor in order to grow in Gods favor or to be allowed into Gods graces.
Admittedly I am new to the Christian life but this is a piecemeal understanding of Christ and His teachings. Chan goes out of his way to ignore every passage in the Bible which explicitly teaches the wisdom of preparing for tomorrow, individual responsability, building wealth and commerce. Chan attempts to correct an inaccurate view of Christianity by presenting an inaccurate view of Christianity. If he would have stated that he would be focusing only on one side that would be one thing, however, he suggests that his interpretation is the only true way to live as a child of Christ.
This book could have been a wonderful book, unfortunately it was filled with rhetoric saying that we are not good enough and will never be good enough to call ourselves Christians, unless you do as Chan commands and live as a pauper. It is no secret that we, as fallen creatures, are unworthy of Gods grace yet he gives it to us. Chan goes against Christian teachings by standing in judgement of our beliefs and devotion to Christ, something he could not possibly know for only the Almighty can judge our hearts.
This book is filled with class warfare and even a hint of racism. I would NOT recommend this book to anyone, ever. As I said before it could have been a great book, unfortunately Chan's personal politics and dogmatic philosophy got in the way of biblical teachings.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rah...Rah...Now Go Be Radical!,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Audio CD)Let me start off by saying I agree with much of what Francis Chan had to say about people who call themselves Christians taking their faith much more seriously. Most Americans are far too happy with living their day-to-day lives with no thought of eternal reprecussions and what truly matters most in this life. Calls to action, like Chan's, are constantly needed.
My problem with Chan's book came in its simplicity and cheerleading style. I think this book would have been great for me during high school when a spiritual pep talk made me feel much more motivated to "be a better Christian." But reading it at 23 made it seem hollow and void of any true insight. Yes, we need to be less lukewarm. Yes, we need to get out and have an effect on our world. Yes, our actions do matter eternally. But by Chan's critiques I'm left thinking God wants every Christian in America to sell everything, move overseas to evangelize, and realize the hollow nature of all that was left behind.
It's easy to tell people we need to be radical for Jesus. But times change. We live in a modern world so a critique by Chan showing us a Christian navigating through the maze of our actual day-to-day lives would have been helpful. What does it mean to be radical? Surely Jesus doesn't want every Christian to ditch his or her current life and move. What does living a stable life by Jesus' ideals look like in America? Chan only offered explanations to muddle any helpful modern day critique of the church. If I summed up Chan's book it would be: "God's love is crazy, now let's go live crazy." That's nothing practical in that.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Convicted...or conflicted?,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)Chances are people won't see this review. The book has so many phenomenal reviews, and I understand why. It's a great book...but, personally, I had some difficulties with it.
Now, I firstly thought it was Chan's message. It cuts right to the core, to the point where I felt like a pile of dung. He doesn't mean harm; he means help. He means salvation. We should all strive toward perfection, even though we won't reach it until we reach divine life. Even then, we still won't be perfect; only God is perfect.
But there is where my qualms begin.
The first is his view of relationship. The Christian walk is not a walk of rules and regulations. Yes, they are part of it, but not the focus. They are there to help us along the way, but even Jesus broke them when necessary.
Chan mentions that he had a very strained relationship with his biological father. Now, to bring this topic up is very touching, raw, but also leaves one vulnerable. If I were to treat his strained relationship with dishonor, that would be monstrous of me. However, I feel that, from the emotion portrayed in his writing, his strained relationship may have tainted over to his spiritual relationship.
The fear of God is a deep message I get from this book. There is some love, but there is a lot more fear. We must do things in order to appease God, so that we don't get punished. We must be forced to love Him lest we incur His wrath. I'm not saying we shouldn't love Him; but we should WANT to love Him. God makes ways for us to desire Him, and I just don't think Chan expresses those ways in his writing.
Another thing is the message of the lukewarm being thrown into the dump heap. I definitely agree with this view, but I think Chan takes it a little too far. What Chan is doing is taking the impassioned writings of the Scripture's authors and applying them as if they actually lived this way 24/7. God knows that many can write better than they live, so it is impossible to imagine that these forerunners behaved inflamedly every moment of their lives. David sinned egregiously; Solomon was a terrible husband and father; Cephas renounced his rabbi (3 times); Moses hesitated a lot.
But are these people lukewarm? No. Absolutely not. Are the people who just go to Sunday service Christians? Probably not. But there are people who don't travel across seas to heal the sick and poor and are still going to paradise. Why? Because they reach the lost in several ways.
Take a look at a lot of the Christian writers recently. Some have never left their own country, yet their passion for the Lord is greatly embedded in their text, and these words continue to inspire and disciple the lost and the saved alike to this day.
I wish I could flesh out more points, but these are two that I had some serious issues with when reading Crazy Love. It's a great book that I'm sure will help many (one of my closes brothers highly praises it), but I found that these aforementioned issues perhaps don't drive home, but rather drive away from it.
But these are merely my personal opinions, and I can't wait to meet Chan anyway, whether in this life or the next.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Motivating at times, guilt-provoking at many others,
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)I really enjoyed some of the things Chan had to say in his book. I felt challenged to think about things in a new way and to try to live out my faith more fervently.
At the same time, I feel that his book pushes a "works over faith" mentality. He focuses very much on "What are you doing to show that you are living for Christ?", which is good to a point, but can also push people to focus so much on what they're doing that they forget to actually maintain a relationship with God. I found myself feeling very attacked at some points. I disagreed with some of his claims to things that should and should not be seen in the life of a follower of Christ. Biblical people who had sin issues in their lives despite being followers of God are completely ignored (David, Moses, Aaron, etc.). Instead, Chan gives the perception that people who have given their lives to Christ shouldn't have questions, shouldn't struggle, etc. Those that do, he appears to question their salvation.
Chapter 5 was the chapter that really upset me. If it were not for the fact that we were reading this book for my life group, I would have stopped reading the book right there. Chan does have good things to say both in Chapter 5, before, and after, but some of the claims he made in Chapter 5 upset me so much (he suggested that a person asking if you have to be baptized to go to heaven is simply asking, can I not follow Christ and still get to heaven) that I was in tears and sick to my stomach.
I think Chan had good intentions, but I do not agree with some of his claims and was very upset by several. Therefore, I would not recommend this book.
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Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan (Paperback - May 1, 2008)