Tom's Reviews > Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Crazy Love by Francis Chan
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's review
Apr 23, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: theology-accessible
Read on April 22, 2012

I'll admit up front that I went into this book with a bias. I've seen Chan give talks and read one of his other books. Something has itched at me about him. This book helps me understand why I have been bugged, but I don't think it's fair for me to speculate too much in public. I'll just say that I understand now why he chose to leave his church, seemingly sell his family's possessions and "follow the Spirit" wherever. I don't think he could have published this book with a straight face unless he eventually did so.

I'll just say that this book is really one chapter, one sermon, stretched into 180 pages through a saturation of scripture quotes (not a bad thing) and repetition.

My positive take is that Chan is UNDERSTANDABLY concerned about the state of American Christianity and HIGHLY COMMITTED to his understanding of the gospel and the God he sees in Scripture.

My theological take is that Chan knows only the law (not the Gospel) and, ironically for a Pentecostal, does not seem to trust the Holy Spirit to produce fruit, seen and unseen, in the lives of those who hear the Word in faith. Chan's "gospel" is a new and higher form of the law (love) and nearly entirely misunderstands grace, faith, and baptism. He will acknowledge salvation by faith alone, but the entire message of the book is salvation by love alone, as evidenced by a very particular experience of God, personal righteousness, and works of the law. It is a strange thing to speak against love, but in our present reality where the old Adam hangs around our necks even as we are new in Christ, we live by faith, not sight, not love, not feelings. Love is wonderful when you feel it, but it is fleeting, it is not primary and it is not justifying.

By his logic, Chan does not want us to trust in the Spirit's work in Word and Sacrament, but instead asks us to turn our eyes back onto ourselves and look for signs of real/true/crazy love for God and love in action for others. I.e., if we are not Beyonce for God, we are not saved. Instead of the authentic paradox of a sinner-saint like the father in Mark 9, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief," Chan sees things in black and white. You are "all-in" or "all-out."

My pastoral take is that his style and tone can only fail to produce the type of Christians he is calling for. Martin Luther's Heidelburg Disputation includes, "The law says, 'Do this' and it is never done; grace says, 'believe this,' and behold everything is already done." Chan's crazy love at best produces obedience, but cannot give freedom, or ironically, love. Love is only love when it doesn't score points.

I don't feel like taking the time to unpack my takes any further, but if you want to engage in conversation or push back, please leave a comment.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Lydia I got a very similar vibe from this book.


message 2: by Sam (new)

Sam Lonberg Nice review Tom! This book made me feel more hopeless than I was before I read it. 'If I'm not experiencing God like X, Y, and Z than something is wrong.' Maybe he is in a spiritual mid-life crisis?


Homeschoolmama Very well said, I feel the same way.


message 4: by Claudia (new) - added it

Claudia Batke I agree Tom. Nice review. I didn't see much grace in this book; more law. Don't need that.


message 5: by Carina (new)

Carina De lima Faith without works is... dead?


message 6: by Tom (new) - rated it 1 star

Tom That's right.


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