Andy takes another look at Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. Chan, like many Christians, desires to see Christians living godly lives that demonstrate a radical transformation, lives that should be drastically distinct from those of everyone else who is not Christian by demonstration of crazy generosity, crazy humanitarian aid, crazy devotion to the Lord and to all people, crazy abstinence from all forms of sinful desires, short Christians should love crazily, just as God has crazily loved us. But how often and consistently do Christians truly and sincerely exhibit such crazy love?
If such love is the standard of being a Christian, then many of us are not saved, by Chan’s presentation of this crazy love mark of a Christian. Where would David or Solomon fit with this standard? Where would the chief of all sinners, Paul, who did not do the good he desired to do, but instead did the evil he hated, stand before an almighty God? Would they be called friend? Will they receive the praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” Will any of us?
Judging our salvation by our adherence to the Law of God is devastating to one’s faith in Christ. It takes our trust off of Jesus Christ crucified. Instead of boasting in Christ, we are turned inwards towards our own deeds. We must point to our works to demonstrate our crazy justifying love. However, Scripture demonstrates that it’s from God’s love for humanity that he sent Christ who demonstrates that love for us by dying for all of our sins. The penalty for all of our sins is paid in full. That’s where our assurance of salvation comes, from an alien righteousness, a righteousness from outside ourselves that is imputed on us. It is not an infused righteousness.
What is Law and Gospel?
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Andy listens to Chapter 4 of Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love.
Chan teaches that God’s crazy love for us demands a crazy response from us. But… too many people who claim to be Christians are responding in lukewarm reciprocation to what the Lord of Hosts has given to us.
In Chapter 4 of Crazy Love, Chan details the profile of a lukewarm person. The lukewarm person is not the good soil of Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower and Soils.” The lukewarm person is not a lukewarm Christian, hence Chan is insistant on profiling lukewarm people instead of lukewarm Christians, because lukewarm Christians simply do not exist. Lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron.
The kicker though is that we all have elements of lukewarmness in our lives, and even Chan admits this in his writing. Wouldn’t this mean that none of us our saved if lukewarmness was a mark of not being a Christian? How would we know if we have too much lukewarmness in our lives to be counted among God’s people if just a tinge of lukewarmness was acceptable to God?
The biggest problem with this chapter of Crazy Love is that Chan is pointing us towards ourselves for assurance of our justification and not to Christ and his saving work. He is saying that fulfillment of the Law on our part is how we can know if we are really saved or not.
Crazy Love is an immensely popular book and Andy knows someone who doubted his salvation after reading it. Whenever we are pointed to look at ourselves and not to Christ, we will inevitably doubt our salvation if we are are not deceiving ourselves concerning our sinfulness. This is why this episode of Reconnect is so critical.
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Adam Ford is the man behind the prolific and often viral producing online comic-strip Adam4d. He’s a Christian, a husband, and father of three young boys. Back in 2014, he quit his job to create comic strips full-time.
Since launching the Contradict – They Can’t All Be True Facebook page to help promote my book by that title, I have regularly found myself sharing Ford’s work. Those posts generally draw many likes and shares. His strips are often times found on many other Christian social media pages, typically groups or individuals who accept that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, by groups and individuals who are not labeled as liberal Christians or heretics!
When he’s not using presuppositional apologetics to tear down false-worldviews, or picking apart the lies of Darwinian Evolution, Ford is typically highlighting the pitfalls of legalism and self-justification within Christian circles, or the way verses are often times ripped out of their context and twisted to mean something that was never implied within the text.
The Gospel typically has predominance in his doctrinal and homiletical comic strips, so he gains many fans who recognize that we truly are saved solely by the work of God that faith really is a gift and work of the Holy Spirit.
But sometimes, even when we are pointing to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith, the only one who works in our conversion and salvation, we can still twist Scripture. And when Jesus and his saving work is front and center, it’s easier for us conservative mongergists to clap, clap, clap and share, share, share, however, at times the Scriptures aren’t accurately divided between Law and Gospel and we shouldn’t click that button.
I think Adam Ford took a misstep when he was taking a swing at the prosperity Gospel preachers in his strip entitled, “Good News: We Are Not David.” I saw many people share this strip, people I personally know, but I couldn’t hit the like button this time, and I couldn’t hit the share button without posting a critique.
For this episode, I gathered Conni Schramm, back from episodes 7 and 64, Jon Rutherford, back from some recent episodes, and Jonathan Platt, who was sitting on the wall like a fly, but kept hopping on a mic to interject questions.
Here are the extensive show notes that are almost a direct transcript if you can’t devote yourself to listening for an hour: Podcast David Comic.
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Wil Hunemuller wrote a blog post entitled, “Smoking to the Glory of God”. I shared it to my Facebook page, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True. The comment section exploded! Many Christians on my page argued that smoking is a sin. The arguments that smoking is addictive and harmful to one’s health were the two most recurring arguments to support the sinfulness of smoking.
The verse that was often cited for smoking being a sin due to the bodily harm it is known to cause was 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
No verse was supplied by the commenters who said smoking was sinful because it’s addictive. The verse I think that shows us that addiction can be sinful is 1 Corinthians 6:12, which says, “”I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.” I believe the closing line about not being mastered by anything can describe what occurs when a person has an addiction.
Do these two verses put the nail in the coffin that smoking is sinful and no Christian should partake in any smoking, at any time, for any reason, unless he or she sins?
To address the addiction argument, I ask the question, “Are all addictions sinful?”
I would also state, “Just because something is addictive, that doesn’t mean a person must be addicted to whatever that thing is.”
Are any of us not addicted in some way? Aren’t we all addicted to sin? I mean, can any of us stop sinning? Even when we really want to stop? Isn’t that the definition of addiction? And if you say, you don’t have that problem, I’m afraid you are deceiving yourself.
To the argument that smoking is sinful because it causes harm to one’s body, I simply ask the question, “Do we really want to go down that route?”
As the discussion was unfolding on my Facebook page, I received a message from Joel Oesch, a guy who I have played basketball with and who now teaches Theology at my Alma mater, Concordia University Irvine. He shared with me an article he had just published on his blog entitled, “Thank you for smoking!”. Joel’s arguments for Christian smoking were similar to Hunemuller’s, namely, smoking can serve as a means to build authentic Christian community. Such a concept will likely come as a shock to many Christians, so for this episode I invited Joel to respond to the arguments posted about smoking being a sin.
Joel does a great job of bringing us to see the problem that is bigger than smoking – our sinful nature. He also does a great job explaining our current difficulty of being a part of embodied community – you are after all reading this online! Smoking helps bring us into embodied community and it breaks down all sorts of social barriers – have your doubts? Please give a listen to this episode and hear Joel out. He provides great arguments and explanations. Listen with an open mind and Bible. We visit 1 Corinthians 6 and look at the context of those two key verses at the top of this post, and we also take a look at Romans 14. We unpack an important word that describes the “sin” or “not sin” debate concerning smoking and other issues like it that are divisive in the Body of Christ and how we should navigate them together –adiaphora. If you don’t know what adiaphora is, then you must listen!
I welcome all feedback in the comments section. If I don’t reply, I apologize, but I will read it.