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5.0 out of 5 stars A Paradigm-Shaking Book, April 28, 2008
This review is from: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Paperback)
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 Church in Simi Valley, California, regular speaker at Passion conferences and other events, and the guy who recorded that "Just Stop and Think" evangelistic video where he walks for miles holding a surfboard, takes his opportunity to challenge the church. "This book," he says, "is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don't want to plateau, who would rather die before their convictions do." It is a book that is meant to change the way Christians live their lives.

There are two ways of critiquing the church. We can critique out of love or out of disgust. Chan is committed to critiquing the church as an act of love. In a recent interview, when asked about the emergent church, he said this: "As a pastor I hear a lot of emergent leaders talk about what is wrong with the church. It comes across as someone who doesn't love the church. I'm a pastor first and foremost, and I'm trying to offer a solution or a model of what church should look like. I'm going back to scripture and seeing what the church was in its simplest form and trying to recreate that in my own church. I'm not coming up with anything new. I'm calling people to go back to the way it was. I'm not bashing the church. I'm loving it." And his love for the church is obvious throughout this book.

The format of Crazy Love is straightforward and effective. Chan dedicates three chapters to renewing our understanding of the character of God and seven chapters calling Christians to examine themselves. Within the book are two ongoing themes that are going to get people talking.

The first theme is that we must painstakingly examine ourselves. We cannot assume we are saved, or to use the biblical metaphor, we cannot assume that we are the good soil. Chan calls the reader to a serious self-inventory through a chapter that provides a profile of the lukewarm. He concludes, "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." God wants all or nothing.

The second theme is deeply counter-cultural, going against the stream of both Christian and secular culture. It is this: live your best life later. Chan wants to see Christians living differently--living in a way that is markedly different from those around them. He wants to see Christians forgoing much of what we consider necessary, what we consider our due, in order to focus on treasures that are eternal. He wants us to get outside the realm of what is comfortable to us and focus instead on radical obedience. "God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."

These two themes and a focus on the Scriptures serve to create a powerful and deeply challenging book. There is a very obvious commitment here to teach Scriptural principles from the Scriptures and to invite the reader to verify what he is writing from those same Scriptures. Not surprisingly, the book's weakest chapter is the one that depends least on the Bible. It is a chapter providing examples of men and women who have made radical choices to live radically different. At least a couple of examples are of people who are probably not the best examples overall because as they've jettisoned their old lives, they've also jettisoned too much good theology.

That small critique aside, I found that this is a paradigm-shaking book with a message that Christians desperately need to hear. Too many of us are living too safely and too easily. But for the brief moments we spend at church each week, we are practically indistinguishable from the unbelievers around us. This is not the way it is meant to be. The church could use a loving exhortation and Chan delivers well.
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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 13, 2008 11:31:01 AM PDT
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Posted on Aug 24, 2010 6:30:48 AM PDT
randy russo says:
You use this quote..
He concludes, "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." God wants all or nothing.

So do you think unless I give God my all,I am not saved even though I believed in him and asked his forgiveness , and will burn in eternal flames. I thought God loved me ? Am I not good enough for him ? Is God really that mean ? What else do I need to do to get to heaven ?

Posted on Sep 21, 2010 1:09:53 PM PDT
Nana says:
I wonder if the author/pastor of this book lives the exact way he is preaching/teaching; i.e., is he living safely, easily, comfortably? Is he, himself, an oxymoron in reality? Also, this pastor says it is "his church", which I have always thought/felt/believed that NOTHING and NO ONE "belongs to us" (as opposed to everything/everyone "belongs to God", we are just shepherds who have been given a person/thing as a gift to be responsible for/take care of). It's not HIS church, it's God's church, right? Also, I wonder if he completely follows what he writes (in that "non-safe" mode again), "God doesn't call us to be comfortable... but to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.".... !! Meaning, does he live such a life where he has to worry about where his next mortgage payment, meal, utilities, health insurance, transportation, clothing, basic needs, etc. are coming from (like a LOT of Americans to now, including myself?! I see the point he's trying to make, but just sayin'... does HE COMPLETELY and TOTALLY live this way himself, seeing how he's leading an entire Church congregation this way? Does he live too safely and easily himself? Again, I wonder. I wonder if ANYONE I know personally sees that I am a "distinguishable Christian" because I live very "uncomfortably, unsafely, uneasily" and I wonder if the fact that I have an extremely hard, suffering life (due to family illness and economy) and that I consider myself a very spiritual person (not a traditional or religious fanatic), that this will make ANY difference to anyone (other than I've learned a lot of character-building), and I wonder if I will pass the "lukewarm" test and if I am doing "all" (or "enough") for God (so that I can "maybe" get into heaven)!? And this pastor says that he's basing "his" church on "love"?! I logically understand what he says about God wants "all or nothing" (even if I may not COMPLETELY agree with that statement); however, this way of thinking is VERY traditional (think Southern Baptist, hell fire and brimstone, etc.), that is a person does not do THIS or THAT a CERTAIN WAY, then you're a failure, God doesn't want or acknowledge or accept you (how is that "love"?!), and that you won't make it into heaven?! I think "we will not see them in Heaven" is an extremely strong and harsh statement to make and anyway, how does HE know who's in heaven or not?! NOBODY knows that who is alive on Earth, not for sure. If he does, then HOW does he know? Has he been there? Does he have firsthand accounts and verifications of who's in heaven or not? Who is qualified to say who makes it into heaven or not. The more I read about this, the more that I think he is possibly a radical thinking person (or wants to be and is trying to be anyway) who really does believe obviously that he has found the "right way", when in fact, he, like anyone else, has their own opinions, just like anyone else, regardless of the fact there are common threads with many others, with the differences just being in the details. I don't think it would be very encouraging to follow this guy. IMHO.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2010 11:03:18 PM PDT
Lil' Debbie says:
Just an FYI, Chan does live like what he writes. He is speaking about the church where he pastors by calling it his church. He doesn't think the church is his. If you did research, you would know he is no longer the Pastor of that church. God is calling him to something new, and definitely not comfortable. Chan doesn't want anyone to follow him, he wants people to follow Jesus. This guy is the real deal. You consider yourself a "spiritual person." If that means you recognized you are a sinner, asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins, asked Him to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior, and read and do what He tell us to in the Bible, then I don 't think you have anything to worry about. Don't get hung up on the words of Chan.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010 11:29:40 PM PDT
B. Bauer says:
Randy and Ciel: You both point out well the flaws of the theology expressed in Chan's book, namely, lordship salvation carried to a judgmental extreme. Such teaching destroys assurance of faith for a believer in Christ by melding together the two distinct yet related categories of justification (salvation by a one-time acceptance of God's gift through Christ, Eph. 2:8-9) and sanctification (discipleship, an ongoing process of maturing after salvation). Under teaching such as Chan's, a believer can never know if and when she has truly reached favor with God because it is a merit-based NOT grace-based theology. For an in-depth look at the book from a free-grace perspective, see the article "Balanced Love" on the Free Grace Alliance web site: http://www.freegracealliance.com/

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2010 11:43:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2011 5:16:04 AM PST
MarineKo says:
The Scripture teaches, that the lives of a Christian is a RESULT of salvation. The good works come AFTER a true conversion, not used prior salvation to earn a right standing before God. With that said, it IS fair to say that a "lukewarm" Christians are those that have not truly accepted Jesus as who He is. I don't think this book is designed to theologically argue about what the message of the gospel is (We have "The Gospel According to Jesus" for that). A proper understanding + acceptance of the truth WILL bring certain proper responses to the message, and I think THAT is the point of this book. Perfect sinless life is not what the book requires us (on what authority? The author doesn't live that), but a simple consistency to our identity. Holiness is only an indication of our saved state, not the way to earn it. If anyone of us are offended rather than thankful for such exhortation... we should repent of our clinging to certain sins that so easily entangle us.. I agree, there are similar books that teach us to really think about the implications of our faith, and this book takes a different approach. However, ALL of mandates in Scripture have implications for us to be holy. Do you still think God is mean? Or the author implicates that God is mean? Test yourself to see if you're in the faith..

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2010 12:29:18 PM PST
randy russo says:
JE, I think you are missing the point. See the quote from the book. "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. God wants all or nothing." Basically what he is saying is that even though you have become a Christian, if your works are not sufficient after that, you wont make it to heaven. You even said in your post that good works come after and if you don't see them , then you are not fully accepting Jesus. That is my issue. These points both imply that there is a certain amount I must do after salvation to "keep" it going , otherwise I will lose it. So therefore I can never know if I am doing enough to maintain my saved status. How much is enough? I love to give to the homeless, but have a hard time quitting smoking ? Is that ok ? or I am now so kind to other around me after Christ showed me his love, but yet I have struggles in other areas , is that ok ?

I regretfully read this book and he has other quotes in chapter 3 such as "Its like being in the marines without doing any of the work" in reference to being a Christian. This is just so far from the truth. He continually implies that if our works are not good or holy enough we are not Christians. For many years I used to view God the same way , like some Cosmic taskmaster, those days are thankfully behind me. Now I understand what an all loving and forgiving father he is. I hope all can see the same in time.

You also say to test yourself to see if your in the faith, if we are all honest and test ourself, we will always fail from time to time. Thankfully God see's me through the blood of the lamb and not through my mistakes. I would recommend a great book , its called "He loves me" by Wayne Jacobsen. This will give you a true picture of what God is like.

Posted on Jan 5, 2011 4:33:50 PM PST
Well said! Tim!
"... this is a paradigm-shaking book with a message that Christians desperately need to hear."

Excellent review!

- author Sam

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2011 10:12:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2011 10:15:01 AM PST
To paraphrase Ciel's post, it seems you are saying four things:

1. I doubt that Francis Chan really practices what he preaches.
2. If he did, I'd have to give him credence and take seriously what he says, and that's just not possible to live that way because my life is too hard and complicated.
3. Because he calls the church he pastors "his church", I suspect him of something.
4. People can go to Heaven even if their outward behavior shows them to be nothing like Jesus.

Rather than muddy the water (in regard to the other points, I'll echo D. Vasquez), let's get to the point that Chan is making, the 4th point here: Christians look like Christ. Is that too much to ask of someone? If two people are married, the spouses should exhibit behavior that indicates they love each other. Of course there will be disagreements and friction occasionally, but for the most part, we should see that couple loving each other, thinking similarly, and putting their spouse above any other person. That's what we should see if they're married, right?

So if we love Jesus Christ, if we have been saved from hell by his sacrifice for us, then our behavior should naturally change. We'll never act perfectly good, not on this side of heaven. But we'll progressively think more Christlike, we'll act more Christlike, and sin we used to tolerate will increasingly become more abhorrent to us. Is this an unreasonable theory?

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2011 2:22:08 PM PDT
Rachel_Ann says:
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