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.
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.
The best radio-show hosts speak not to a group of people but to individuals listeners feel the show is just for them. Brown (Born Free), a Presbyterian seminary professor, former pastor and host of the Key Life radio program, uses that approach to fine effect as he encourages Christians to celebrate their absolute freedom. Conversational, lighthearted and full of funny lines (and a few urban legends presented as fact), Brown's writing nevertheless conveys deep truth: believers too often stagger beneath a burden of behavior forced on them by other Christians, a standard that God does not require. "I fear too often the church has become an organization of guilty people with a guilty preacher standing in the pulpit, telling guilty people that they should feel guiltier," he writes. The oppressed and their oppressors miss the power of authenticity, especially the freedom to fail, the joy of God's complete forgiveness and the boldness it brings. God's liberty also lets Christians embrace those with whom they disagree. Brown illustrates the point in one of his best anecdotes, recalling his relationship with Tony Campolo. Brown's honesty about his own failings drives his points home. This book has the power to help Christian believers who have been struggling to march in a straight line to leap up and dance.
Read the first chapter then throw it away. Rather than explaining anyway that we can be scandalously free- it just talks about why were not and what we can do. Says very little about what Jesus did for us already and how to receive it.