Review of Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick
I have to open this review with a confession: this is in no way a book intended for me. Oh sure, it’s targeted at Christians: in that general sense I fit the bill. Even more, it’s targeted at Evangelical Christians, so I’m still not completely beyond the pale. But! Crash the Chatterbox is specifically targeted at Christians who have a busy “chatterbox.” That is, a small internal voice that says things such as “you can’t do it;” or “God doesn’t love you;” or “you’re not good enough.” Pastor Steven Furtick wants you to know that instead of listening to this voice, to this chatterbox, you as a Christian should listen to what God has to say about Himself and you instead.
This is not me. Don’t get me wrong, I do have an internal voice—one that speaks to me all the time. Every conscious moment (and a goodly number of unconscious ones), that still small voice within is saying to me: “you, you are AWESOME!” or “no, your wife is the one who is wrong;” or “if they don’t agree with you they must be morons,” and so forth. Which means that my “chatterbox” is not the one Furtick is describing.
With that said, I realize that I am by no means representative of the mainstream Evangelical world. (Can we talk about “mainstream Evangelical”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?) I know full well that there are people out there with real self-confidence issues who do need to be turned to Christ and reminded of God’s promises found in Scripture. And, to that extent, Furtick’s Crash the Chatterbox is fine. Not spectacular; not a wonderment of 21st century theology (I really, really hope not anyway); but fine. There is some help here for those who need to be reminded that Christ is enough. Not much help, as Aaron Armstrong points out, but some.
The problem is that while some people do need to have their attention turned on to Christ, Crash the Chatterbox is completely unhelpful when it comes to articulating what we are to be turned from. It ignores the moral status of the “chatterbox”, indeed the moral status of every aspect of our lives. The voice in our head—whether my arrogant one or your doubting one—is not merely a distraction; it is sinful. We are not in trouble because we have doubts and hesitations about our own self-worth. We are in trouble because we are wicked.It is certainly true that we do need to look to God and His fulfilled promises in Christ; I could hardly claim to be a Christian if I didn’t believe that! But our primary reason for looking to Christ is not to be reminded of how awesome we are. We look to Christ because we have a desperate sense of our own wickedness in the face of a Holy and Righteous God. We look to Christ because we see that the only way we will be reconciled to this God is through His atoning blood shed in our place on the cross. We look to God so that we can with Luther
Learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say: “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin. Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine. Thou hast taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.
We must learn to stop looking to ourselves for peace and fulfillment and learn to find all things in Christ. The clincher is that I know Futrick knows to look to Christ because he tells us to do so in the book. And yet, because he is so unclear, most people are going to read this book and walk away thinking “yes, I am worthy and God does love me, because who wouldn’t?” And that thought is the opposite of the Gospel, which says that we are unworthy, and that God loves us anyway because He is awesome.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher on the condition that I write a review. I was not required to write a good one.
Further Disclaimer: I forgot that I had received this from the publisher, and so it sat ignored on my shelf for nearly a year. Sorry Multnomah! My fault entirely!
Disclaimer the Third: Yes, I am aware of the controversiessurroundingFurtick and this book. No, I don’t have thoughts on it—enough ink has been spilled (does that phrase still apply in a digital age?) on that subject already.
Dr. Coyle Neal is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO., where he continues to rock.