Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Have you ever wondered if we're missing it? It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you've verbalized it yet or not, we all know something...

Title:Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1434768511
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:187 pages

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God Reviews

  • Katie

    Totally whooped my tail. Probably THE most convicting spiritual book I've ever read. Challenges you out of any luke-warm tendencies. Challenges you especially in the realm of giving financially and sacrificially. Really, really good - prepare to be challenged out of your mind.

  • Kevin

    This is one of those WOW! books that cause you to read something and then quietly close the book, lay it on your lap and meditate on what you have just read. So many times while reading this I had to stop and wrap my mind around what I just read. Francis Chan has taken the very things that I need to focus on and concisely and passionately expressed them in this book in a way that I totally get. How to live my life in a way that I am showing a God who loves me that I love Him back. Francis writes

    This is one of those WOW! books that cause you to read something and then quietly close the book, lay it on your lap and meditate on what you have just read. So many times while reading this I had to stop and wrap my mind around what I just read. Francis Chan has taken the very things that I need to focus on and concisely and passionately expressed them in this book in a way that I totally get. How to live my life in a way that I am showing a God who loves me that I love Him back. Francis writes in a way that is convicting without seeming judgmental or accusatory. He gives examples and every day methods of living out the scriptures. I finished this book early this morning and now am deciding who I should give it to next. Without a doubt one of the most influential books I have read. Read this only if you care about being what God created you to be.

  • Matt Rundio

    My initial reaction to Francis Chan’s Crazy Love

    First of all, “Crazy Love” is a terrible and misleading title for this book. It is not about love (until, maybe, chapter 10, but by that point it is too late; too much damage has already been done). It is certainly NOT about God’s love for us mortals.

    When a friend asked me about the book, this was my initial response:

    I was hoping for a good read, but all I’ve seen so far (a bit more than halfway through) is an angry God. It’s as if the title [Crazy

    My initial reaction to Francis Chan’s Crazy Love

    First of all, “Crazy Love” is a terrible and misleading title for this book. It is not about love (until, maybe, chapter 10, but by that point it is too late; too much damage has already been done). It is certainly NOT about God’s love for us mortals.

    When a friend asked me about the book, this was my initial response:

    I was hoping for a good read, but all I’ve seen so far (a bit more than halfway through) is an angry God. It’s as if the title [Crazy Love:] means, “You are so stupid and such a failure and so incredibly lame, it is crazy that God, who is disgusted by you and beat up Jesus because of it, would love such a low-life as yourself.”

    Here is another picture of my reaction to the book: The following are summary statements and reflections I made of each chapter. I wrote them down immediately after reading each– I was honestly summarizing and reflecting upon what I took from that part of the book:

    Chapter 1:

    Summary: “God is crazy awesome, stand in awe and fear of him.”

    Reflection: “MISSING: the words ‘God is love.’ This should have been first in his list of God’s attributes, but that idea was missing altogether – instead God seems a bit angry.”

    Chapter 2:

    Summary: “You might die soon, is your life a waste?”

    Reflection: “Didn’t really like this chapter. It seems manipulative – wrong somehow. Excitement for life, not the imminence of death, should be our motivator. It seemed shallow to me.”

    Chapter 3:

    Summary: “God loves you even though you’re a stupid sinner.”

    Reflection: “Again, don’t like this chapter. It’s OK, but weak. Not compelling. Still with the angry punishing God. Still will the ‘I deserve death and hell’ junk.”

    Chapter 4:

    Summary: “You suck at really following Jesus.”

    Reflection: “He once more (again!) seems harsh. It occurred to me that Shane Claiborne frames the same kinds of things in a way I find compelling. Shane tells stories of living fully committed lives – this book just badgers me. This book makes me feel attacked; Shane [in Irresistible Revolution:] makes me feel inspired and convicted and reflective of my life.”

    Chapter 5:

    Summary: “You make God sick because you aren’t good enough (you don’t do good enough things).”

    Reflection: “More of the same: I make God angry. I make God sick. I make God disgusted.”

    Chapter 6:

    Summary: “You need God’s help to stop making him so angry and to stop being a pathetic failure.”

    Reflection: “This is a small correction to the rest of the book so far. We do need the help of God in order to live fully committed lives.”

    Chapter 7:

    Summary: “If you are not extremely generous, God will be extremely displeased with you (and you’ll probably burn in Hell forever).”

    Reflection: “Ok, two in a row that are less bad – but still guilt-filled and ‘angry God’ stuff abounds along with a ‘this life doesn’t much matter’ problem” (That last point, by the way, is a problem with Gnosticism creeping into the Church – it shows up when we disparage this world, the earth, matter in general, and think only “heaven” is any good… but that’s a longer and different topic.)

    Chapter 8:

    Summary: “Being obsessed with God will/should change everything about your life.”

    Reflection: “By far, the least bad chapter so far. Pages 132-3 are very good, in fact. But still contains the ‘angry God disgusting human’ bit. Also, almost Gnostic in the way it focused on ‘heaven’ rather than this earth/life.”

    Chapter 9:

    Summary: “If they can do it, so can you; great stories of real people living for God.”

    Reflection: “Finally something compelling – not shame/anger/guilt based…”

    Chapter 10:

    Summary: “Figure out what God is asking of you and do it!”

    Reflection: “This is more of what I expected from the book – but it is too little too late.”

    The book, in general, feels like old-school hell-fire and brimstone preaching: “Point 1: God is bigger than you, Point 2: You are a stupid sinner, you make God angry, and you deserve death, Point 3: luckily for you, God might forgive your sorry self, but you better live right because, like I said in point 2, you are really rotten and deserve to suffer and die.” That, as it turns out, is the basic outline of Crazy Love. I suppose if I were used to Puritan preaching (with famous sermon titles like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”), I might not have been so bothered. But I was (and I still am). Perhaps it is my visceral reaction against hell-fire and brimstone preaching that causes me to dislike the book so much.

    Needless to say, I was unimpressed and disappointed with most of Crazy Love. It was NOT what I expected. I thought I’d be reading a book about God’s wonderful, unfailing, increasable, CRAZY love for people. What I got was a book about how completely horrible I am and that God is very angry with me and it is crazy that he would love such a punk. But, despite my initial (and prevailing) thoughts, there was some good in the book, and to that good, I now turn.

    The better parts of Crazy Love

    The best part of the whole book is, without a doubt, chapter 9 and the second best part is chapter 10. Chapter 8 was also mostly good, and chapter 1 has some great things to say.

    Chapter 9: This chapter contains a number of true stories, stories of people who lived (or are living) their lives in complete surrender to God. The stories inspire, they contain beauty, and they demonstrate the wonderful variety of ways people might give their lives fully to Christ.

    Chapter 10: This is the second-best chapter. It does a descent job of communicating the fact that each of us will have our own story to live, our own calling to follow, our own choices to make. We should not try to live someone else’s life, but our own. And that when one lives a life of love, it changes everything. Chapter 9 and 10 were more of what I expected. (Too bad they are only 20% of the book and come at the very end!)

    Chapter 8 is where the book stopped being so horrible. Page 132 contains a quote from Frederick Buechner. The encouragement to love even your enemies and even when love doesn’t seem safe were very well done. However, the chapter was still not great, overall. For example, the chapter contains this lovely phrase, “[God:] knows what we are, that we are disgusting…” That, unfortunately, (as I read it) summarizes the major thrust of Chan’s theology and anthropology (that is to say, the way he views God and the way he views people): God hates me, I disgust God.

    Chapter 1: The best part of this chapter is the reminder to notice to whom we pray. God is wonderful, huge, creative. God has made an intricate, delicate, breathtaking world in which we live. We should remember this before we pray; stand in awe of the creator. But, again, there were some problems with this chapter. Chan overemphasizes fearing God, that God is about punishment, that Jesus was beat up and killed because God is so upset with me, etc.

    So What?

    I, personally, would never recommend this book to anyone. It seems that Chan is trying to shake up lazy Christians. That is a good thing. We need to be honest about our lives. Too many of us are caught up in materialism, safety, etc. Too many of us don’t really listen to God, don’t really follow Jesus, etc. Too many of us, to many churches, are asleep, and we need to wake up. But Chan’s approach (and much of his underlying theology) I find offensive, shallow, antiquated, an not at all compelling.

    Instead of this book, I’d suggest two in its place: Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution (which, ironically, is recommended by Chan himself in Chapter 9) and Mark Labberton’s The Dangerous Act of Worship. Both of these superior books aim at similar thing as Crazy Love: to wake up a sleeping church. But Claiborne and Labberton both do it in much better, much more compelling ways.

    And for a book that communicates, in a powerful way, the crazy love that God has for us mortals, I highly recommend The Shack by William P. Young. It does a wonderful job of painting a picture of God as he truly is: Love.

    Allow me to end with this, my own words to you: God is crazy in love with you. You make him happy, just because you are you. God sings wonderful songs because of and to you. He weeps with you when you cry, he laughs with you when you laugh, he enjoys watching you smile (even if your mouth is mis-formed or your teeth are missing). God thinks your eyes are beautiful (even if you’re blind) and that your skin is one of the best things ever (even if you are horribly scarred). God desires you. He not only loves you, he really, deeply, truly, and with no strings attached, LIKES you! You see, God IS love – it is his very nature. And you, you are the Beloved of God. You are the object of his affection. Allow that crazy love that God has for you to fill you up and empower everything there is about you. May you, filled with the love of God, become more fully human, more fully you. May you, motivated by the mind-blowing love of God, love other people and all of God’s creation in the same way. May you see other humans, not as objects of God’s wrath, but as objects of Gods unfailing love. And see yourself in the same light: you, despite whatever shortcomings, failings, or horrific things there are in your life, you are loved by the creator of the universe – God likes you and wants you. You are loved.

  • Gavin Breeden

    Mark this one under the Good Premise, Terrible Execution category. Chan seeks to combate the "lukewarmness" of the American Church by calling us to live a radical "obsessed" life for Jesus. Lots of good ideas here. The American Church certainly is lukewarm and quickly going the way of the increasingly churchless countries in Europe. Chan argues that our call to live radically is rooted in God's crazy love for us, and that's certainly true. I have no doubt that Francis Chan is a solid follower of

    Mark this one under the Good Premise, Terrible Execution category. Chan seeks to combate the "lukewarmness" of the American Church by calling us to live a radical "obsessed" life for Jesus. Lots of good ideas here. The American Church certainly is lukewarm and quickly going the way of the increasingly churchless countries in Europe. Chan argues that our call to live radically is rooted in God's crazy love for us, and that's certainly true. I have no doubt that Francis Chan is a solid follower of Christ with a big heart for his God and his neighbor. But because this book has made such a big splash in the Church in the last few years, I felt that it warranted a very careful consideration and, to be honest, I found it to be a well-intentioned but profoundly flawed book.

    The problem is, the house Chan builds has a pretty soggy foundation. It's not rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but in this amorphous notion of God's love. In one cringe-inducing paragraph Chan actually asks, so why does God love messed up people like us so much and his response is that he doesn't really know. What? We do know the answer, God loves us because of Jesus. He's united us to Christ and his love for us is because we are "in Christ.". This lack of gospel-centeredness is the biggest problem here, because then all of the imperatives that follow are guilt-driven, not gospel-driven. Sure, Chan says once or twice that he doesn't want us to be motivated by guilt, but simply saying that doesn't remove the guilt-driven ideas throughout the book.

    There are some other unfortunate theological choices as well. Chan gives us a heavy individualism with very little attention given to the Church. He talks of taking four day retreats to be alone in the woods with God and uses lots of the warm, fuzzy, quasi-romantic "fall in love with God" language which I keep hoping will run its course in our culture. The book is also not especially Christ-centered and leans heavily on the unhelpful sacred/secular divide in several places. I also think Chan doesn't consider the believer's battle with sin realistically. He acts like we could be 100% sold out for Jesus if we just wanted to, but consider Romans 7 where the apostle Paul-- as mature a Christian that'll ever walk this earth-- bemoans his own divided heart and how he doesn't always do what he wants to do but he does things that he hates. The Christian life is a constant battle with indwelling sin. I spent years of my life trying to be 100% devoted to Jesus and couldn't figure out why I kept failing spectacularly.

    The other big problem with this book is how Chan describes this radical Christian life that we ought to be living. He really hammers home the importance of working with the sick and the poor (those in America, but especially those around the world, and even more especially those in Africa it seems-- he mentions people going to Africa a lot) and giving away money, selling possessions especially houses (he mentions people selling their houses a lot). The problem with all that is I can sell all my possessions, spend decades in Africa doing missionary work and still not love Jesus. Chan's call to radical Christianity doesn't necessarily address the primary problem in the American Church, he's just giving us something new and exciting to do, something that's frankly easier than taking up our cross daily and following Jesus.

    The problem in the American Church is that we love other stuff more than we love Jesus. And not everyone is called to go to Africa, some people are called to go next door. And not everyone is called to sell their house and downsize so they can give more money away, some folks use their homes as tools for ministry. Chan holds these activities up as the definition of radical Christianity and tells us countless stories (an entire chapter devoted to them, in fact) of people who've done these sort of things. But he's missing the problem, namely, our wayward hearts. He's addressing the symptoms, not the sickness.

    As a pastor in the American Church, I don't want everyone in my congregation to sell their possessions and move to Africa. I'd be delighted if some of the did that because of a genuine sense of the Lord's calling. But the Church is a body, Paul tells us, and each member has different functions and different uses. What I want for these people is for them to love Jesus more than they love their houses, their jobs, AND even mission trips to Africa. I want them to be faithful spouses, parents, and children. I want them to be godly bankers, truck drivers, doctors, business owners, teachers, retirees, students etc. I want them to be faithful and boring and I want them to love Jesus more today than they did yesterday.

    Radical Christianity takes many different forms, sometimes it means going to Africa and dying for the gospel there and sometimes Radical Christianity means being genuinely OK with the fact that God has called you to be a boring, faithful Christian in your small town. Because what makes Christianity radical is not how much money we give away or how many countries we do mission work in, what truly makes Christianity radical is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which every single day is pulling people out of darkness and into the light and then sending them into every nook and cranny of this world with the good news of a Perfect King and a Coming Kingdom.

  • Maureen

    4.5/5 stars

    What an incredibly powerful and convicting read. This book really challenged me a lot - I'm gonna have to change some things after reading it!

    I really like Francis Chan's style of writing and how personable his narration seems.

    Really really great!

  • Kate Davis

    I've had a serious theological problem on literally *every* page of this so far. Here are some highlights:

    Chan is dismissive of life, even it's highest joys and lowest sorrows, because the story is about God, not people. So that's all that matters. In addition, a person's life boils down to how many people they've "saved" (which seems to mean "have gotten to say a prayer"). Not sure where this leaves, say, Mother Teresa, who focused more on taking care of people than convincing them to say praye

    I've had a serious theological problem on literally *every* page of this so far. Here are some highlights:

    Chan is dismissive of life, even it's highest joys and lowest sorrows, because the story is about God, not people. So that's all that matters. In addition, a person's life boils down to how many people they've "saved" (which seems to mean "have gotten to say a prayer"). Not sure where this leaves, say, Mother Teresa, who focused more on taking care of people than convincing them to say prayers.

    Oh, and now Chan's confronting the problem of hell. A student asks how a loving God can demand we love him via threats of punishment, and Chan's response is that God does it for our own good. He threatens us because he loves us! Wasn't that student listening when her boyfriend hit her? It's for her own good, it's because he loves her!! Apparently God's love for us isn't crazy in the sense that it's so abundantly good, it's crazy in that stalker-boyfriend-with-a-knife-who-ignores-a-restraining-order kind of way. So remember: when your partner threatens and punishes you, it's acceptable, because that's how God works.

    Next (Ch 4) is a misinterpretation of the 'lukewarm' verse in Revelations (for a great interpretation, Rob Bell has a sermon in Mars Hill's series on the Letters to the 7 Churches. If anyone's interested, leave a comment and I'll look it up. The verse is concerning water; both hot and cold water are useful in that time and place, lukewarm water was unhealthy and unuseful). Chan says "good" or "real" Christians aren't lukewarm, which seems to boil down primarily to morals within sex: not getting divorced, not having sex before marriage, not cheating on your spouse (this is taken from early Ch 5).

    This is where I stopped reading. I don't feel badly about it; there are plenty of great theological authors I'd rather put my reading time towards.


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