Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crazy Love - Chapters 6 - 8

Crazy Love - Chapters 6-8

This marks the second to last section of Crazy Love we'll be talking about for the Stuff Christians Like Book Club. We'll discuss chapters 9 and 10 on Wednesday, February 25. Here are some things that struck me about chapters 6-8.

1. Page 100. "When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love." I think that’s true. Would anyone that watched my life see me going to great lengths to be with God?

2. Page 102. "We don't have to worry about a burdensome load of commands, because when we are loving, we can't sin. Do you feel free in your Christian life?" I've seen this in my own life with how I approach lust. When I tried to focus on cutting lust from my life it felt impossible. When I focused instead on God's love, my desire to lust diminished.

3. Page 104. "The fact is, I need God to help me love God." I really liked this idea. Sometimes I feel so bent out of shape trying to "get love right." I essentially say, "God I am so sorry I keep failing at loving you. No, no, I don't want your help with loving you, let me figure this out on my own and then come to you." The idea of being able to pray, "God, help me love you" is really freeing to me.

4. Page 108. "We are always the recipients of His great and manifold gifts. Not the givers. Never the givers." Again, this statement removes the pressure for me to feel like God is waiting on my gift and I keep blowing it. He is already complete.

5. Page 110. The section on Malachi 3:10 about giving God your whole tithe and not robbing Him was one I wrote "wow" beside in the margin. Time is the tithe I don't give very well and the idea of writing Him a blank check with my time was really challenging. And I liked the idea of "Give God more than you can manage"

6. Page 115. "Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers." How sensible is your life right now?

7. Page 119. "How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ…" This is stupid, but I actually tried this while driving to church the other day. I usually get really mad at people that cut me off on the way into the church parking lot. And I honestly tried to see them as Christ instead of an enemy preventing me from getting a good parking spot.

8. Page 123. "Do we really believe that "it ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our final day?" I rarely think about the final day and all too often live life firmly planted in the right now.

9. Page 127. "What matters is that we spend ourselves." I like that phrase, "spend ourselves." For me, part of that means writing as much as I can and trying to pour out for others what I feel like God is pouring into me. What does spending yourself look like to you?

10. Page 130. “True faith is loving a person after he has hurt you.” What was your reaction to the last person that hurt you?

11. Page 133. “We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is …” This was challenging to me because right now I am wrestling with whether I should be doing “this blog writing” more. And I want God to say, “Sure and here’s why it is perfectly safe to do that.” But He won’t. How are you living safe?

12. Page 136. The description of wasting the day by “spending hours connecting with God” was a good push point for me. I once heard another minister say that in the age of busyness we are called to do something that seems wasteful, pray. I also liked the question why “do we assume we could never do anything so radical or intense?”

13. The humble section on page 137 was well timed as I get the opportunity to speak more. God has been planting that idea on my heart a lot lately, that He wants me to get smaller and quieter in His hand while the things around me get louder and pick up the pace.

14. Page 145 kind of asks the question, “What is your thing?” If you did an audit of the way you spent your time last week, what would your thing be?

15. Page 146. “Joy is something that we have to choose and then work for.” I completely agree with that.

Those are my thoughts, what did you make of chapters 6-8?


Monica said...

3. "The fact is, I need God to help me love God." I love this, and it has definitely been true for me. There have been areas in my life where I try and try to do the right thing, only to keep failing. The only time I make it anywhere is when I get on my knees and tell God that I can't do it right, I can't love Him right, and would He please help me.

7. I have to laugh and the parking lot thing. Mine was commuting. People looked different when I realized that they were my contact with Christ, even if they were cutting me off at the time, or slowing me down.

8. Sometimes i stop to think that this is the world that I think about mostly, but it's such a brief flash compared to heaven. Why is the after life such an after thought?

11. The concept of safety is a tough one. I have a really hard time praying to grow closer to God no matter what, because it is a very unsafe prayer. Sometimes (with His help) I can pray it, and sometimes I still find I put conditions on what I'm willing to go through for Him. Because it usually involves suffering and struggle.

I really like some of the comparisons that Chan made between physical fitness and the spiritual life. I am a physical therapist, so there have been a lot of times that I am struck by the comparison of physical strengthening and spiritual strengthening.

I also really, really liked the idea of looking at whether we'd be satisfied with heaven if God wasn't there. I also think that it is a good sign that you are truly falling in love with God if the idea of hell is absolutely horrifying to you, not because of fire and brimstone, but because it is an eternity of separation from God with no way to get from there to Him.

heartafire said...

7. Ummmm..newsflash to Chan, et al, re the comment to "think of each person you come into contact with as Christ":
No...there is but one Christ.... and it ain't me, and it ain't you.

I think a better slant on this might be to see others as Christ sees them, not as we (sinful human beings) see them.
If I thought of a person as being Christ, I would have to fall on my face and worship him, not just cut him some slack in the church parking lot.

I have sat here writing for 15 minutes, but believe me, you don't want my other comments on what is SO WRONG with this book.

Suffice it to say, I will no longer participate in this book discussion, because it is such a truly bad book.
I have 3 questions for people who find this book "life-changing." "powerful," "convicting," etc.:
1) How much do you read? And what else have you read this year?
2) How long have you been a Chrsitian? and
3) Are you a personal friend of the author?

I think the answer to these could help me understand better what makes this book so compelling to so many.

And to be perfectly honest, I was predisposed to like---no, LOVE---this book, and in fact ordered several copies, sight unseen, from Amazon because I knew I'd want to give them away as Christmas presents. I immediately sent 3 back, after reading it.

It has been a huge disappointment to me, that I so soundly dislike this book. I love SCL, and think you, Jon Acuff, are brilliant. I truly don't understand your love of "Crazy Love," but would not ever hold that against you.
I'm resigning from book club (hope I get a nice severance package!) because I am truly spending too much braintime on this one thing--thinking of ways to persuade against this book in a gentle and Christian way. Can't do it.
And it is not a case of "diffrent strokes for different folks"--- It is , even more importantly, his sloppy use of scripture---Chan uses it like a person singing a song, who knows the words but not the music.

I just will continue to read the comments, and hope that some other non-fan will be able to better persuade folks to see this one a little more critically.

And one final note:
Did at least anyone find it a bit jarring that he quotes GEORGE BERNARD SHAW to support his point about giving? Good Lord, deliver me.

Nick the Geek said...

For me this was a real turning point the first time I read the book. I burned through the book in a couple hours so it was really compressed but the first 5 chapters really hurt. I felt like when I got to chapter 6 and things began to change from what we look like when we are broken and dysfunctional to what we should be striving for I really felt moved towards that idea.

I"m not even sure how to form my thoughts on this. I want to be driven by love. I guess the way I figure it we are all driven by something. Some people are driven by comfort. Whatever is most comforting is what they do. Others are driven by success or by recognition or whatever. I get that, but all of those things limit us.

Lets say you are driven by a sense of justice. This is a good thing and many good Christians are driven by this. I wrestle with it myself. Such a person does the right thing because it is the right thing to do. They don't do wrong things because those things are wrong. The problem is there is so much injustice in the world and that can really jade a person that is driven by justice.

A person driven by love, especially love for God, still has to deal with injustice but they see people differently.

At least that is what I get from this whole thing.

I'll try and make myself more clear later.

Nick the Geek said...


I think what Chan is getting at is Matthew 25:31-46. Here Jesus tells us that what we do to the least we do to him. When we serve we are serving him. It can really make your brain hurt when you think about it.

We are Christ on Earth. That is what we are called to be, but those we serve are also Christ and so the picture is Jesus Serving Jesus.

Of course this isn't to be taken literally but needs to be understood within the context. When a king sends an ambassador with power to negotiate on his behalf the person is the king by proxy.

That is who we are. Christ by proxy. We are not literally Him but He has given us His full power as His representatives.

The other side to this is when people belong to a king those people represent the king, so what is done to them, for good or evil, is equal to having been done to the king. This is not a literal thing either but by proxy.

This is based on a cultural understanding that was common at the time of Christ. It is not the same today where ambassadors aren't sent with full power to negotiate. They can call back home to find out what they should do. That wasn't reasonable back then. The president doesn't look at the voters the same way that a good king was expected to look at his people either. Because of this the concept is foreign to us.

The comment didn't phase me because I had done a study on this about a year ago. Chan probably could have explain this better but it is a Biblical concept.

Nick the Geek said...

also to answer your questions.

1) How much do you read? And what else have you read this year?
-I usually read a book a week. I'd read more but time is precious. I have read several books but most are scholarly. If a complete list is important I can get one together. Right now the theme is evangelism.
2) How long have you been a Chrsitian? and
Lets see about 25 years with quite a few other bits that I can tack on.
3) Are you a personal friend of the author?
Never met the guy.

I like this book because it is hitting on some points that I've really been spending a lot of time with. It could have been done better because there one needs to have some basis for understanding what he is saying to get it without being offended. A few places definitely need that kind of stuff explained better.

A lot of people won't like it because it doesn't fit their personal theology but honestly the things he says aren't wrong Biblicaly. A lot of people struggle with the balance and he even does a poor job of showing that balance in the book, but the one chapter I've seen from the DVD does a better job of striking that balance.

There are people that hate the book of James because he doesn't seem to mesh with Paul, but that is because they don't read Paul right. Paul says we are saved to do good works, but that we don't need to lay a bunch of rules on us but rather let faith, hope, and love drive us. James doesn't discount this. He isn't laying all these rules down. He is affirming what Paul says but he goes on to say that if we really believe then we must act on our belief. If I believe that I'm going to die if a don't get out of my office right now then I will get out of my office. I won't just sit there to see if I'm right. That is what James is saying about our faith in God. That is the kinds of things that Chan is saying in the book. If we don't act on our faith then we are completely dysfunctional.

That is the state of the church in America. Quite frankly this kind of thinking will make many Christians angry because it calls us to act like Jesus and Jesus made the religious people of his day angry. He spent time with sinners and let them get away with their past. How dare he.

I say how dare we. How dare we think that we should sit in our church and enjoy a great sermon but not let it change us. How dare we nit pick about if Chan did a good job building the argument to satisfy us instead of listening to the whole point and acting on it. How dare we judge the world for acting like a bunch of sinners instead of pouring ourselves out for them because we love them so much.

heartafire, please note that I am not directing this at you. I answered your questions then got on my soap box so everything after your questions is my own thing that expresses my disgust with a church that is turned in on itself.

Teachertraveler said...

Thanks Nick,

You expressed a lot of how I have been feeling about the book. Many people don't read James because they don't want to feel bad about how they are living. In fact, most people don't read the Bible for themselves due to the same reason.

I love how uncomfortable this book is making people. We live in a society that praised the book "Eat, Pray, Love", a book that celebrates ignoring other people's pain while lavishing yourself with gifts. When Chan comes and quotes the words of Jesus, not toned down or explained away, but really quotes what is in the Bible, people freak out.

Because it's radical. It's not safe. It's not comfortable. It requires denial of self, of possessions and everything else that is meaningful all for the sake of Christ.

1. We spend hours in the rain or snow waiting to see a glimpse of a "celebrity", yet we have perfect access to the Creator of the universe and we ignore him. What am I doing in my daily life that shows I'm in love with the One who loves me?

2. When I am selflessly loving, a type of loving that cannot be reciprocated, sin doesn't have any power anymore. When I am being who Christ created me to be, His hands and feet in this world, the thing that used to be so desirable and is now disgusting.


6. What if I did something so radically loving that nonbelievers thought I was foolish and stupid? What if I did give that homeless person a meal, even if he/she could be a con person? What if I did sell my possessions, my car and give it all away, even if there wasn't a tax break involved? What if I forgave the person who murdered my friend?

7. "When you do this to the least of these, you do it for Me." Am I really treating everyone I come in contact with as if they were Christ? Not in a worshipful, "oh you're really Jesus" weird way. But the way He intended us to live. Serving others instead of ourselves.

10. The children's pastor at my church this weekend told 45 kids that if they refuse to forgive people who have hurt them, God will not forgive them. It shocked the adults more than the kids, because we realized Jesus was serious. Forgive. Really forgive.

11. If I am doing exactly what God has called me to do, how can I be nothing but safe? My soul is secure, you can do whatever you want to my body, my possessions, everything else, but I am safe in Him and who He is. Our God is a dangerous God.

The other part that just kicked me in the face was the John Piper comment: Would I be okay with heaven without Jesus? Yikes.

Kendra Golden said...

I have the same answer to heartafire's questions as Nick the Geek. I love it and have now bought and distributed roughly 35 copies. I think that's where Jon may have gotten his actually. I don't care that much I guess about sloppy details, I just had already seen the kind of fruit in Chan's life, church, and minsitry that I knew I needed to smoke the same stuff He was.

Like Nick the Geek, I read a lot of other stuff. Right now I'm also doing a group study on James so it's funny that came up. Another book I just started that seems like an older more scholarly version of Crazy Love is Bonhoffer's Cost of Discipleship. Haven't gotten too far into it, but it's all blending together nicely with James and Chan.

My most lasting impression from this section is the whole concept of obsession. That's what I want. To be obsessed with loving God. And from living among the most football crazy freaks in the nation, I think that obsessed has to mean something that is easy to spot by an outsider. Not just a burning feeling inside, but an active ridiculous outlandish love that looks something like rubbing perfume on Someone's feet with your hair.

Marni said...

I concur that Crazy Love is an uncomfortable book to read. I also concur that Chan could have more clarity. I get where he's going in most of this book, but I can see where it's fuzzy too. But like Nick, I agree it's Biblical.

I love this book because it's making me discuss it all with God and not just walk away with a warm fuzzy "ahh, I'm perfect and this book affirmed that". So to count me in as being a fan. And in that thread, here's my answers to heartafire:

1) I go through about 2 books a month. I tend to read a "for fun" book and a "for spiritual growth" book at the same time. So far this year I've read as spritiual growth Shantung Revival, Vintage Jesus, and Glocalization as well as Crazy Love
2) I met Jesus at age 9. Did nothing with that until I was 25, so I've been a Christ follower for 13 years.
3) No, I don't know Francis Chan.

As for Jon's thoughts:

1. I too felt the sting of page 100. And it was very convicting. And then on page 104 when Chan talks about asking God to help us love Him more, I was reminded of a Beth Moore study I did some years back where she said she prayers for Jesus to "help her love Him more than anything". And I used to pray that too. And when I asked for it, He delivered. And I was convicted of how I've let that slide. I've put things in front of God. It's idolatry, no nice way to say it. Chan was the reminder God used for me to keep seeking to love Him above all else. It's working and I'm so grateful.

2. Page 110 got me too. I struggle mightily with tithing. Not because I don't trust God with my money, but because I struggle that my home church is the proper place God wants me to give it. We're a dead, legalistic church these days and I can't see that my check is used to the glory of God. God and I are hashing that out, but in the meantime, God has shown me that my money is not the only tithe I should give Him. He wants more of me, as in my time. And not the usual time I give him, but to practice sacrificial giving of myself and my time. Giving of myself to others. Not just giving what's easy.

3. Amen to page 115! It is to God's glory we bear much fruit and not look, act and feel like the rest of the world. When my life looks too much like the worldview of other Americans, it's time for me to figure out if I'm living out what I believe and adjust accordingly. I struggle with that. But God's patience and correction is neverending, so when I stray too far out, there He is giving me a chance to do it right again.

4. Page 123: Do I? Not always. But I am aware of how quickly someone I love can leave. I had two profound losses in less than 10 months. It changed me for good. I don't sweat the small stuff much anymore. I love this life and I love what God has blessed me with in people and things. But in a heartbeat, I'll blow this popsicle stand and go to glory with Him. That mindset has also given me an urgency to see people come to the Lord because life can just end with no warning, no take-backs and no second chances. This book has continually reminded me that people are perishing in hell on a minutely basis and time is critical and crucial and precious and we squander it on some of the stupidest damn things..and I'm one of the worst offenders.

5. Page 130. I was horribly betrayed and ostracized by 3 closely related relatives. I don't know that I had ever been so hurt and angry in my entire life This went on for months. I just sobbed and ranted and cried to God about it. I studied my Bible and He gave me Romans 12:18 (If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone). God put it on my heart to be kind despite the betrayal. I kept the line of communication open. That really has hard. I wanted to be angry and I had a right to be, but that verse wouldn't leave me alone. So I told God, "I'll do my part. The rest is all You Lord, because they'll never come around". So I did my part, God did the rest. The relatives and I are FULLY restored now. In ways I can't even describe, we are in wonderful fellowship. One is even asking to do a Bible study with me. Amazing.

This is getting long and I feel like I'm hogging so I'll wrap it up. Talk to you guys in a few weeks and I can't wait to read all the different opinions and comments. They are enlightening and fascinating.

Daniel said...

Love the book. What I walked away more with the thought of: when was the last time someone asked me why I live and act the way I do? Not because they know I am a Christian but because they see how I live and it doesn't make sense. Like, why were you so nice to that person who just cursed you out? Why did you help that couple, you don't know them? And if they are not commenting is it because I am not living out the words of Jesus? I the answer is because I haven't. This book has left me convicted to live the life Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount.

Heartafire, I would encourage you to take a step back. This is not a theological masterpiece nor was it attempting to be. When I preach I am not trying to deliver a systematic theology. I try to address the topic at hand. I don't tie all the loose ends up or it would distract from my message. Chan is trying to convict us to be more than hearers only and to go out and serve others.

I don't know what it will help or prove but the last books I read are:
The Divine Conspiracy (Dallas Willard)
Two Views on Women in Ministry (Zondervan)
Interpreting the New Testament (Black and Dockery)
The Penny (Joyce Myers)
Contemplative Youth Ministry (Mark Yaconelli)

I read about 3-4 books a month. And I would love to meet Chan but never have.

allthingsnew said...

There are so many things that I am learning from this book that they are too many to write down, but overall this book has been extremely convicting yet encouraging. Chan challenges the church to live, actually LIVE, the way Jesus demands us too and he illustrates the love of God so clearly that it is impossible to ignore.

I am truly sorry that you do not see the wonderful, hard truths that Chan is trying to tell us in his book. I don't understand your "knows the words, but not the music" analogy with how he uses scripture--I believe that Chan takes scripture and actually takes it literally, he reads the words of Jesus and actually believes Jesus was being seems that most of the church tries to water down what Jesus says so we don't feel convicted. Nor do I understand why answering those three questions even matter...what do those answers have to do with the quality of this book? I am not a friend of Chan, but I have heard him speak about 10 times at two different conferences and actually met him last week so I have learned much about his ministry and his vision for the church, and I believe he has a better understanding of what the Body should look like than most people. I guess I simply do not understand what exactly you disagree with Chan on--he is telling us that Jesus demands our whole hearts, and that if we love him, then we must love his children. What in that message is not true? How is he misinterpreting scripture? I'm just surprised to read your intense dislike for the book because I know many people who have read this book and I've never heard anything negative.

daphne said...

1. I hope my relationship with Jesus is seen by all. I do know I put Him aside at times because I know He loves me and will wait. Not right, but what I do.
2. I like the focus on God's love, not working on my sin. I love the thought that you have to stop loving and pursuing CHrist in order to sin. New thought for me.
3. Awesome. I need all the help I can get. Love was not modeled well to me so I have a lot to learn.
4. I am just so thrilled He wants to give me gifts! Like, He loves me so much despite who I am and how little I attempt to give Him, He still wants to bless me. So stinkin cool.
5. My husband does not allow me to give much. SOmetimes I let that stop me from giving what I have and put the blame on him for my lack. I have so much to give because so much has been given to me. Forgiveness and love being hardest for me to dole out.
6. Love that thought! My life does not make much sense so I am not a total fail right here.
7. Good exercise. I can do it well with strangers in most situations. It is people I know well and have lots of interaction with that I struggle. I tend to judge. I want to try this with people I know well, like my husband and mother.
8. I think of eternal life often and teach my kids about how what we do here effects what heaven will be. I also have a daughter and many other loved ones that had a short life on earth I want to reunite with. When you think daily of people who live where Love Reigns, maybe that helps it stay in my thoughts.
9. Spending myself looks like living the Word and showing Christ to my family. It gets old when it seems to have no impact after of doing it for so long. Guess this is where I need to pretend I live with Jesus. ; )
10. My reaction was a bunch of vile cuss words and thoughts of murder death kill. I am working on it. With professional help, no less.
11. I live safe when I ensure my vulnarability is walled up tight with my own defense mechinisms instead of trusting God to be my Shelter and Fortress.
12. I assume I can never do something radical because I feel too messed up to be worth much to anyone. I 'know' that is a lie but I easily get bogged down by my circumstances and issues. Also, can I just say, I am not a big fan of Christians usually and while talking it out with a friend, we realized sometimes when Christians who have not had to deal with real ugly stuff notice me trying to work through mine, they 'lable' me. Crazy, unstable, needs deliverance, unrefined, whatever. It seems at times, Christians want to make believers out of heathens but then are not sure what to do when said ex-heathen does not fit nicely into one of their church catagories or cell groups (life groups, whatever you call them). Maybe it is just my experience.
13. Great section.
14. I have actually spend so much time serving these last few weeks that I am getting desperate for some down time to read my bible and pray. I am kinda all or nothing so I always need to work on balanceing my works with my worship.
15. Recently when things got super bad for me, through my tears and cuss words, I did the only thing I could manage. 'THANK YOU GOD!' Over and over during my rage. I did not feel it but it was sink or swim. I lived.

justlurkingthanks said...

OMG!! Since it's a day late, no one will be reading this, but at least I'll get it off my chest.

heartafire: last session (chaps 3-5), I thought I was totally alone in my abhorrence for Chan's "sloppy use of scripture" as you kindly put it.

I quit reading the book as of then, but I have to admit I like Jon's stuff so much I took a peek at this session's posts to see if anyone else was waking up to the problems with the book.

Thank you for you candor. I agree with you.

It seems to me most of the people who are so enthusiastic about this book are basing their opinions on its (or Chan's?) popularity - not on solid, biblical exegesis. Unfortunately, you cannot convince anyone of anything when they are dazzled by something new and shiny.

Use your heads people! God gave you a brain to critique what people are teaching. Don't just buy into it because it's the latest hip thing to come out of California. The book is not all bad, but there are enough fundamental flaws that you should have serious questions at this point.

The Bible calls us sheep, but it's a metaphor, for crying out loud.

I've said my peace and will comment no further on this book.

Nick the Geek said...

A large part of me says that I shouldn't say this but I'm ignoring it.


I understand that you dislike the book. That's fine, but please refrain from insulting people that do like the book. I disagree that the exegesis is sloppy. It is actually spot on but the foundational work in leading to the statements is poorly constructed. I've said this.

As for liking the book because of your stated reasons. IF you will read what the commenters here are saying you will find that your assumptions are far of base.

Please remember when critiquing it is better to focus on the content being critiqued and not only the person or persons. Attacking the person (aka ad hominem arguments) are generally viewed as the last resort of a poor logical position.

Charlanne said...

I got lost in trying to keep up with the numbers the last time, so I will just freestyle. I feel challenged anew by Chan's comments regarding elevating safety and sensible living. It's something my husband and I have talked about recently. What does it really mean for us to live by faith? What steps can we take? How can we be Christ to "the least of these?" It definitely means, like Chan said, that I have to be in touch with "the least of these." How can I give/serve/love if I'm not even around those in need of it? That takes some intentional living to be around people different than I am...I'm so much more comfortable with people like me.

I totally agree that when I focus on God, that's where my desire to sin decreases. When I focus on my desire to sin, well then my obsessive compulsive side takes over, and I just keep doing it.

I was scared by his story of his friend who gave more when his income decreased...I so want to give on faith, but it's like I won't do it unless I'm sure I'll have the same outcome as that guy. Wow..that's convicting.

Man am I not consistent in responding well when people hurt me. This idea of loving them anyway is so counterintuitive, but I want to grow in it. Also, joy is most definitely a choice and a movement.

Even though convicted, I loved Chan's description of the "obsessed." For someone who has grown up in the church, it is easy to become stagnant. I appreciate being reminded what living out my faith looks like. It isn't just Sunday's so much more, and it's pretty exciting, even when it's not safe!

justlurkingthanks said...

Nick the Geek,

Thank you for your admonishment.

I don't want to turn Jon's blog site into a flame war. I must respond to your comments, though, if for no other reason than to beg your pardon. I sincerely withdraw the insulting and ad hominem wording with apologies to anyone who was offended. To the degree that I erred, I stand corrected by your rebuke.

As for my (poor) logical position, those were stated in previous posts and I saw no need to reiterate in today's post. I was merely responding (admittedly poorly) to heartafire and the idea that I was not alone (though vastly outnumbered) in my thinking about Chan's book.

With regard to my assumptions - were the comments about this book running even 15% critical in nature, I might be persuaded that I am "far of(f) base" as you put it. I have been reading all of the comments since the beginning of this book discussion. Indeed, this is partially the source of my exasperation. The predominant mindset seems to be based on something like "Well, Chan has a big church, and he sure is popular, so if he writes a book it must be truth, even if his arguments are off a little here and there.... hey, his heart is in the right place".

I submit, when confronted with overly simplified proof-texting, one's antennae should go up. When Christ's words spoken specifically to the Pharisees and law-givers is used as support for the idea that the reader is lukewarm, the hackles should go up. When a laundry list of western hemisphere, North American cultural, white, suburban, evangelical "dos and don'ts" is purported to be the other half of grace (while denying it in the next sentence) - brother, I don't know about you, but I maintain, any thinking Christian should be royally pissed off by that point.

Adding insult to injury, when I then see the readers taking that kind of manipulation as reason to be "convicted" and as "wonderful, hard truths", and as "loving how uncomfortable this book is making people" I am, frankly, outraged. Christ's gospel is NOT the gospel of try harder. You may call it "spot on exegesis". I call it dangerous.

My argument is much deeper than simply "liking or disliking" the book. Any writer (or speaker) has a terrifying responsibility to the target audience of the message. But the receiver of that message is just as responsible for holding it up to the light of Truth and flatly rejecting bad theology, despite the popularity of the writer or speaker. I do not see that process in this discussion.

Forgive me, then, for not painting a fish of approval on Crazy Love and for not simply affirming everyone in their opinions. I stand by my position that this book is fundamentally flawed and readers should, therefore, have serious questions about the content as a whole. I am just pleading with readers to put their brains in gear as they read. Nothing more - and certainly nothing less.

Prodigal Jon said...

Lurking and Nick -
Thanks for pushing back and forth on each other and being honest about what you think. My hope with stuff like the book club is that I can get out of the way and let people talk and I really appreciate that you are doing that

Nick the Geek said...


I appreciate your apology. I also appreciate your reiteration of previous critiques. I don't agree that people openly accept Chan's words because he is popular if for no other reason than I have not seen that in the comments above. Still, the way you have phrased that is much better than the prior comment.

I'm sure you can see that your intent in both comments was the same but in choosing better phrasing it became much less offensive. I think that is the biggest problem I would have with this book. The process and phrasing could have been cleaned up quite a bit. This is less Chan's fault and more the co-author and editors' fault in my opinion, but it is generally an issue with the book.

I think a great example is a book that was very popular about 10 years ago. The Prayer of Jabez is a book that I felt was terribly constructed while being surprisingly accurate hermeneuticly for all the wrong reasons. I hated that this entire book was written on just a couple of verses but the more I learned the more I realized that the text supports many of the assertions of the book but only when held against a greater context of the Chronicles v. Kings, the Bible, and history. Had all that been properly explained the book would have become inaccessible to most Christians.

That is the simple truth. A great many books written are for the greater population and so have to balance these issues. In this case I strongly feel that the application is Biblically accurate but occasionally requiring a better explanation. From the one chapter video I've seen the DVD does help with that side of it and it is possible that some of the missing explanation was pulled for the video by the publisher for ... other reasons.

Regardless of all of that thank you very much for receiving what I had to say about ad hom statements. We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. That is what freedom is all about.

Bekah Jo said...

I haven’t been posting since the first week because I am behind in reading, due to overwhelming required reading for grad work. I did want to say I am continuing to be challenged by this book and the posts that I’m reading.

@ heartafire the stem for the thinking of others as Christ is not to say they actually are Christ. The Scripture he uses here (Matthew 25:37-40) supports that how we treat others reflects our treatment of Christ himself. I’m sorry about your disappointment in Chan’s writing. I am being challenged through it.

1. When I consider how much God extends His love to me, I desire all the more for my love to grow and be evident to others. I hope to grow passionately, not by “trying so hard”

7. This thought changed my past Christmas and the future ones. I have drawn my inspiration from Matthew 25:37-40. This mindset definitely has place in my daily life as well.

11. I found the little section of “Risk Takers” challenging. It’s hard to genuinely consider the “whatever it takes” when seeking to draw closer to God, but I know I want to embrace Him this way.

15. I agree too. An attitude of joy is a conscious choice.

heartafire said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, justlurkingthanks. You say so well what I spent too much time trying to express, and I feel I did so in a way which was insulting. I do think that people who read Jon's blog are a pretty smart bunch and I get the feeling lots of them read a good bit. But maybe we are not reading the same things. And I this book discussion's making me wonder if we read the same Bible.
Nick I think you nailed it for me when you said that some people are driven by a sense of justice, some are driven by love. It is my main contention and position that ONLY when we are driven by love can we be in God's will. No sense of duty, "shoulds",, "The Law" etc. can drive our good works or else they are not good works. Period.
@But, No we are NOT and will NEVER BE"Christ on earth." Wrong, wrong, wrong. We are sinful human beings. Even Chan says this a few times, in between saying we are Jesus.
@teachertravelr,marni,etal: I am not at all "uncomfortable" with Chan's book except to the end that it is poorly written, does not well represent the true gospel, and whose tone varies between whiny and hostile.
@Daniel---not looking for, or expecting a "theological masterpiece". Otherwise I assume I would have heard of it prior to SCL.
But I was expecting it to be theologically sound. It is not.
As I have said repeatedly, I was totally primed to love it. But, I don't.
@teachertraveler--I do love the book of James, and yes, lots in it makes me VERY uncomfortable, Squirmy uncomfortable. Convicted, uncomfortable. But I love it, because it is 100% trustworthy, given to us, as Timothy tells us, for our "instruction, growth, admonishment, etc." Chan is not even 50%, in my book.
@allthingsnew-- I too take scripture literally, which is why I find this book so abhorrent. There are no "hard truths" here for me, only "untruths" mixed in with what appears to be a very passionate sales approach.

Again, justlurking, thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

I do apologize to any whom I have offended with my strident tone. It is truly something I pray about and ask your prayers.

heartafire said...

One last comment (and I swear it's my last!)
Nick, I appreciate what you are saying in your "how dare we" section about people not acting on a sermon etc. But I will tell you how I "dare" nitpick [as you call it] Chan. It is a discussion about a book. So I "dare" point out the things I disagree with.
Secondly, ad hominem is a personal attack against the character of a person, rather than someone freely expressing disagreement. I found justlurking's response to you quite charitable, though unnecessary.

Leanne said...

I'm Episcopalian, so let me take the middle way on this. (Because that is what we Episco's do.)

Chan's exegesis isn't solid. I heard him speak once it wasn't crash hot there either.

I keep telling people this book has a great message and has some good things in it -- I just would have written it so much differently -- and part of that is the "withholding" of grace from one chapter, only to mention it in the next, and some contradictions.

But, I'm going to read it again.

And I'm going to suggest it as a study to my small group -- just because it stirred such a strong reaction in me -- both positive and negative -- that I think a lot could be gained about discussing those reactions and working them out in a group. We all come from different backgrounds, so it'll be interesting. Or it might be too controversial to do. I'll run it past a couple of others in the group.

My thoughts on these two chapters is that I really liked the prayer at the beginning of it.

Chapter 8 felt like it had been pulled from something different. His use of the phrase "obsessed with God" was a bit off-putting to me, I think mainly because it compares God to having an obsession with, oh, say, the internet. (Which is not what Chan is after, but he cannot help the way the reader's mind works!)

In short, I think "Crazy Love" is poorly written, and that's a shame, because I think Chan's message is a good one, even if I don't agree with how he gets there all the time.

Also, thanks to the rec. above of Bonhoffer's "Cost of Discipleship". It'll be interesting to compare the two.

Christy said...

The discussion might well be over with by now. I'm a bit late chiming in.

I wasn't thrilled with this book at all. I, too, was really looking forward to reading it based on comments I had heard about it from SCL and a friend of mine. I was disappointed.

While reading Chan's book I felt condemned - not convicted. I talked to God about this and asked Him whether or not it was condemnation or His convicting me. I feel certain that it was in fact condemnation. And since according to the Word of God in Romans chapter 8, "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus", I can only conclude that "Crazy Love" is off-base enough to keep me from recommending it to anyone else. Yes, Jesus said a lot of things that make us squirm, but He did so in a way that gave hope. Chan made me feel guilty for having a home and transportation! God is the giver of all good things! Providing for my family is not evil. My husband and I do not live lavishly; we try to live under our means. We give to our local church and to others monetarily as well as our time and services.

I will say this, though. The one thing that I am trying to use for good from this book is to be more out there. For instance, and this may seem trivial, but I meet with friends every Friday for coffee. This past Friday I decided to introduce myself to the ladies who work at the coffee shop. I am hoping to develop a relationship with some or all of them so that I can eventually share the good news with them. There are also other regulars I see each week, and I will try to get to know them, too. Also, I have auditioned for a part in a musical, which is way out of my comfort zone. But God, for some reason, told me to do this, so I did. I have no idea what will come of it, but I'm trusting Him to fill me in on the details when He is good and ready.

Teri said...

Have any of you read the book by Frank Viola, Pagan Christianity? I know this has nothing to do with the conversation on Francis Chan's book Crazy Love (yes, I've read it)but I wondered if anyone who has read Pagan Christianity wanted to talk on here about it.

Rita Murphy said...

My marriage is experiencing a tremendous transformation ,On behalf of my husband am very grateful to Dr Lawrence for practically ling saving our marriage.What makes different from other spell caster is that it is very simple and practicable to even a layman can understand thank you very much for your help am so happy i came across your email thank you very much