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Book Reviews

Crazy Love by Francis Chan


It doesn’t take long to converse with people to realize that there are a lot of wrong ideas about God; and a lot of wrong ideas about Christianity. Ignorance of true Christianity abounds in churches today. The Biblical picture of God is fading away for a more palatable one. I see all sorts of books that paint God as some sort of "cosmic claw machine" just waiting to shower us with what ever we want. The statement goes, "God loves you so much He wants you to have your 'best life now'". Thus, I think it was the somewhat skeptical nature in me that made me a little leery when I picked up this book. I had never heard of the author (Francis Chan) and most of the times when I see a book about the love of God, it ends up being a book that ignores the wrath of God. Nevertheless, I picked it up and started reading. I am glad I did, it was well worth my time!

Francis Chan is the (now former) pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. He is the founder of Eternity Bible College and is on the board of directors of Children’s Hunger Fund and World Impact. It is clear throughout this book that he has a grave concern for the state of the church today, especially in North America. He does a good job of writing in a way that is challenging but not condescending. You can tell throughout the book that Chan has a heart for the church and does not like to see the state it is currently in. "This book", he says, "is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers."

Crazy Love is split into two basic parts, chapters 1-3; chapters 4-10. The first three chapters lay the foundation with, more or less, a brief theology about God. Like I said earlier, usually books that focus on the love of God do it to the exclusion of His wrath, justice, etc. This is not one of those books. It only takes about 5 pages for the author to bring up the issue of sin and that God must punish sin because He is holy and just. Yet in spite of our sin and in spite of that fact that we won’t seek God on our own, He saw fit to send His Son to Earth, become a man and die so that we wouldn’t have to. That is crazy!! And that is Chan’s point. God has displayed this crazy love for us… What is our response? This is where the real challenge begins.

Chapter 4 begins the personal examination part of the book. And Chan pulls no punches right out of the gate. Chapter 4 is titled Profile of the Lukewarm. The opening quote of the chapter sets the stage for the rest of the book. It is a quote from Francis Huffington, Forum magazine: "It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity." The scariest thing about the quote was that it was given in 1890… how much truer is it today?

Chan hits the nail straight on its head by saying that the American church today is more concerned with the externals of Christianity and not so much with the internals. As long as we are better than "the guy down the street", we think we are okay. If our marriage looks good, our kids don’t swear and we make it to church the majority of the time, then we consider ourselves okay. But this book clearly points out that Christ didn’t come to die so that we could do a little better than "the guy down the street." Jesus Christ came so that dead people can be made alive. Thus Chan forces you to look at your life to determine if you are truly living for Christ or if you are lukewarm. In Revelation 3:16, Christ says that those who are lukewarm will get spit out of His mouth. Chan does an excellent job in laying out what a lukewarm Christian looks like and he does it the right way; he lets the Scriptures speak for him.

The rest of the book piggy-backs off chapter 4 and adds several other thoughts to challenge your walk with God. Are we giving God all that we have, or are we giving Him all that we have leftover? Chan challenges every facet of our lives. Our marriage, our kids, our homes, our finances, our friends, etc. are all fair game because, as Chan points out, God “wants all or nothing” (page 85).

Probably the weakest chapter is the one that depends least on the Bible. It is a chapter outlining several people that have made choices to live radical lives. One of the issues I have is that there are at least a couple of the examples are of people who, in shedding their old lives, have also ended up shedding a fair amount of good theology.

One of the added features for this book is a series of videos at www.crazylovebook.com. These videos are not necessary to fully appreciate the book. However, they are a nice supplement and act as a reinforcement of Chan’s overall challenge to examine our life and love for God.

If there was one negative I would bring out, it would be some of the examples Chan uses regarding how he lives this out in his life. It’s not that the examples are bad examples but rather that for some it could come across as, “Look what I’ve done for God; shouldn’t you do the same?” I think he does a good job of diffusing that attitude but there are those who might misconstrue some of it.

All in all, Crazy Love is a good book and well worth your time to sit down and read. It will stretch you and challenge you. This book carries a message that Christians today definitely need to hear. Except for the brief time we spend at church each week, Christians are practically indistinguishable from non-Christians. Something needs to change. Chan provides a clear and loving, yet challenging solution. 

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