Shocking? Yes. To the point of cardiac arrest? For some. Steve Brown, a seminary professor, radio broadcaster, and author of A Scandalous Freedom suggests that Christians need a spiritual rewiring to break their bondage—and that includes freedom to sin. Now that I have your attention…
The subject of Steve Brown’s book is “freedom—and why we’re not free.” He writes, “If Jesus says we’re free, we ought to accept his declaration at face value and run with it.” Throughout 11 chapters, he explains, through anecdotes and Bible quotes, how Christians have lost their freedom and how it hinders them as Christians. The author, in his introduction, draws us into a fireside chat by adding one more credential for writing the book: “Well, I have sinned big enough, and I’ve lived long enough to write a book like this one—and also to serve as the negative illustrations of most of the principles taught herein.”
Among the book’s main points, Christians fall into the pattern of viewing the world in terms of “us” and “them”—“us” being the self-righteous who pretend they are perfect, and thus, have the authority to tell others how they should live so they can also be perfect. “They,” on the other hand, are those outside of “us”—the less than perfect, Christians or not. The obsession with perfectionism and living without sin actually keeps Christians from being Christian-like when they appear self-righteous, condemning, and bound by rules and regulations. And they become lonely. Says Brown, “If you demonize those people who disagree with you, you will end up being the only one left.” Later he says that making others better is God’s job, not mine. To sum up the basics, freedom is accepting God’s grace while working toward perfection, but knowing you, as well as others, will never reach it.
The anecdotes used throughout the book, like the parables Jesus used to teach, help readers relate the author’s message to their own lives. The book deals mostly with the why’s regarding loss of freedom, and at times rambles without making concise points on how to change. I would have liked to have read a final chapter that actually gave specific steps and suggestions on how Christians can become free -- free to follow them or not, of course. Another book, perhaps? Nevertheless, pastors or priests or anyone involved in Christian ministry, as well as Christians in general will find the book provides some provocative insights. The author’s most shocking message is that in our attempts to be evangelists for God, we often make people run in the opposite direction—and therein lies the danger. So, how can we afford not to read A Scandalous Freedom to check our own spiritual wiring? -- Karen Thurber, Christian Book Previews.com
Christians do not trust freedom. As author Steve Brown explains in this brave new book, they prefer the security of rules and self-imposed boundaries, which they tend to inflict on other Christians. Brown asserts that real freedom means the freedom to be wrong as well as right. Christianity often calls us to live beyond the boundaries, bolstered by the assurance that we cannot fall beyond God's love. Freedom is dangerous, but the alternative is worse—boxing ourselves up where we cannot celebrate our unique gifts and express our joy in Christ. Each of the book's eleven chapters explores a common pharisaic, freedom-stifling tendency, then opens the door to the fresh air of a remedial liberty. A reader's delight, A Scandalous Freedom sometimes shocks with challenges to prevailing wisdom, but it follows up with compelling validations of our need to celebrate real, unstinted freedom in Christ.