“Radical Christian Living” as Works Righteousness

There are a number of preachers and teachers today who call Christians in America to live a “radical” (=normal and biblical) life. They are blazing their guns (rightly so) against the “cheap grace” that pervades American Christianity. Against the religious culture that creates folks who get their Jesus hand stamp and live just like their neighbors. Absent of true repentance and faith in a life-changing, new-life-bringing King. Just a free pass by the heavenly turnstile when they die.

Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. And, like I said, a number of preachers and teachers call Christians in America to a “different” Christianity. They call us to follow Jesus to Calvary and die to self. Their voice is appropriate and needed. Because that is what Jesus himself calls us to.  It’s what Paul says happens when the God graciously yanks out a heart of stone and implants one of flesh. No new desires, hopes, dreams, and loves means you don’t actually have a new heart. You don’t actually know Jesus. You haven’t actually partaken of the grace you claim covers you.

Recently, while reading through the bestselling, biblical, and helpful book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, I got to his chapter on the “Profile of the Lukewarm.” He lists 18 (I think) things that generally characterize lukewarm (i.e. not true) Christians. By and large, I think his list is helpful for taking honest stock of how we live our lives. A call to such Christlikeness is needed and appropriate.

But I have a concern.

I worry that someone reading Crazy Love, or listening to X preacher calling them to what Jesus himself does will then gauge their spirituality by the “radicalness” of their Christian life. To use Chan’s title–they will judge their relationship with God by their “crazy love” for him, rather than by his “crazy love” for them. The second one is the Gospel. The first one is not. The first one is simply repackaged and death-giving law. It is works righteousness. It is the opposite of the gospel.


About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
This entry was posted in Gospel, The Cart and the Horse and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Radical Christian Living” as Works Righteousness

  1. Lee says:

    Just for clarification: you do not think that Chan is actually calling us to a form of works righteousness in Crazy Love (which I recently finished reading myself), correct? Rather, your concern is that people who might be prone to misunderstand, say, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, or “faith without works is dead”, might also misunderstand Chan’s exhortations – correct?

  2. Well, yes, but not exactly. I agree that people misunderstanding/perverting something does not indicate that it is wrong or even dangerous. (Although, I would say that taking those verses in isolation could be dangerous).

    However, with Chan’s book, I am not finding as strong a theology of grace and the Cross as much as a call for us demonstrating “crazy love” toward God. I understand that the call against lukewarm Christianity is the POINT of the book, but I, honestly, expected more explicit connections between how the Cross itself flows into “radical living” in our lives.

  3. Mr.Emmanuel Ogal Dede says:

    Being a leader in this African,kenya community,i see nothing wrong with peoplr who would letgo of everything in their lives and be much concerned with following Chist though his teachings.in other words doing the will of God.i would just wish that inthis world we “men” would greatly reflect not on wat we have gone through but rather wat we invision to happen in the future.to our children and their children. Therefor,lets preach this “GOOD news” to thiz soceity so that it myt grow in the fear and admonition of wat is godly and rigght. god bless oyou

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