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Dangerously close to works-based salvation
on June 7, 2009
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 should live completely and totally sold out to Him. But Chan's method is sometimes very disturbing. He makes the assertion that if one believes in Christ, but doesn't follow His commands, then that person isn't going to Heaven. Pages 83-84 he states:
As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. To put it plainly, church goers who are "lukewarm" are not christians. We will not see them in Heaven.
He defines "lukewarm" as someone who does not follow Christ's commands. We're all guilty of that. So I can lose my salvation? So am I even really saved in the first place? Does one sin after accepting Christ negate my accepting of Christ?
We all sin, even as Christians. By sinning, we are disobeying God's commandments. Because we all still sin, we are all a little "lukewarm." Some are "hotter" than others who are "colder." This I understand. But Chan fails to mention what "temperature" at which we all get to spend eternity with Christ in fellowship. He says that lukewarm Christians will not go to heaven. Mr. Chan, I don't believe it's a gray scale, it's whether you accept Christ as your savior or not. If you do believe he loved you enough to die in place of you to save you from original sin, then you go to Heaven to be with Him forever. If not, you don't.
If Chan's implications are true, then WHO exactly HAS salvation? Romans 3:23 says that we all sin. Paul spends half of chapter 7 of Romans outlining his own struggle with sin. So I can't expect to see the Apostle Paul in Heaven, because by Chan's suppositions Paul isn't there? Even if I manage to get there, which by Chan's suppositions, I won't because I disobey God.
It takes him 86 3/4 pages to mention the concept of grace. This seems to be the turning point of the point, where the shovel goes from digging the hole, to refilling it.
Chan's vehicle for change seems to be guilt and fear. Romans 8:1 has one cure for that, while 1 John 4:18 has the other one.
This book is great for Christians who need a kick in the butt. It's also simultaneously not great for young Christians first learning to walk, because it is perilously close to condemning at times, and fails to mention grace until midway through the book. Chan seems to imply (and frequently has to apologize for such implication) that in order to prove that you love God, you have to live "crazy." If "works-based salvation" were a circle on the floor, Chan dances dangerously around the outside from all directions.
He could have simply said that works are a manifestation of your faith and salvation, and not a precursor to it. Faith happens first, salvation immediately follows, then works is evidence of the faith. It is devoid of the discussion of grace until midway through the book.
I understand that his implications that without the works, the faith can't be proven alive. He also fails to mention that some people are called to live incredibly mediocre and mundane lives, in which they go to work, make money, and donate generously to charities and to bankroll the missionaries. Jesus does say to the rich young man to sell all his possessions and "Follow me." This right young man thought so highly of his own possessions, that Jesus wanted to prove a point. But what of Abraham who demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice Isaac? The willingness is key. If we are not willing to sacrifice all we have to God, then we are lukewarm. This is where Chan isn't abundantly clear, and his message can be misinterpreted easily for "works-based salvation."
But the message at its core is good. Just be careful in recommending to young Christians.