Monday, July 14, 2014

"One Way Love" by Tullian Tchividjian: A Review

What I see more than anything else is an unquestioning embrace of performanicism in all sectors of life. Performancism is the mindset that equates our identity and value directly with our performance and accomplishments. Performancism casts achievements not as something we do or don’t do but as something we are (or aren’t). The colleges those teenagers eventually attend will be more than the place where they are educated – they will be the labels which define their value as a human being, both in the eyes of their peers, their parents and themselves. The money we earn, the car we drive, isn’t merely reflective of our occupation, it is reflective of us, period. How we look, how intelligent we are, and what people think of us is more than descriptive, it is synonymous with our worth. In the performancist world, success equals life, and failure is tantamount to death. This is the reason why people would rather end their lives than confess that they’ve lost their job, or made a bad investment. (20)

One of my favorite authors and pastors is the grandson of Billy Graham, Tullian Tchividjian. I deeply appreciate his unending, unquenchable emphasis on the gospel pure and simple. His book One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World is Tchividjian in a nutshell.

As the above quote suggests, the book argues that our world is obsessed with performanicism and, as a result, we are exhausted. I think he is on to something. The answer to this innate need to prove ourselves is "inexhautible grace."

But this need to perform goes beyond academics and resume enhancing. It has crept into the Christian church. He writes:
That Christians would want to engage the wider community with God’s sacrificial love–living for their neighbor instead of for themselves—is a wonderful thing and should be applauded. The unintended consequence of this push, however, is that if we’re not careful we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us. (21)
In response to this, Tchividjian has penned a book that seeks to be "a clarion call away from 'grace a lot' and toward 'grace alone." (24) The world operates on "two-way love." Do this, and I will do this for you. Do that, and this will happen. Prove yourself, work hard, earn your keep, and obey the law is everyday life. No wonder we're exhausted! The world, the author notes, is big on law and short on grace (28).

Tchividjian emphasizes a one-way love where God in Christ reaches down in spite of who we are and what we've done. It is not a message of us climbing to God or even reaching up for God, but God coming down to us. That is the essence of the gospel. He writes:
The Gospel of Jesus Christ announces that because Jesus was strong for you, you’re free to be weak. Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose. Because Jesus was Someone, you’re free to be no one. Because Jesus was extraordinary, you’re free to be ordinary. Because Jesus succeeded for you, you’re free to fail. Once this good news grips your heart, it changes everything. It frees you from having to be perfect. It frees you from having to hold it all together. In the place of exhaustion, you might even find energy. (37)
One of the most insightful parts of the book for me regards his discussion of the Law. The author suggests that though Dietrich Bonhoeffer was onto something when, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, warns against cheap grace, we must also be weary of cheap law. Quoting J. Grehsam Machen "counterintuitively notes that 'a low view of law always produces legalism; a high view of law makes a person a seeker after grace.'" (96) The reason is because cheap law "causes us to conclude that we can do it - the bar is low enough for us to jump over." (96) God demands perfect righteousness in the Law and that is a standard we cannot meet. It is at that point that we place our hope in Christ who fulfills the law and does what we cannot. "Only when we understand that God's Law is absolutely inflexible," Tchividjian writes, "will we see that God's grace is absolutely indispensable. . . .  In other words, a high view of the Law produces a high view of grace. A low view of the Law produces a low view of grace." (98)

More could be said, but I will stop here. Though Tchividjian has been accused of antinomianism recently, he addresses this issue and condemns it. Ultimately, however, I believe that Tchividjian's passion for the gospel ought to be mimicked by every pastor and believer. I also believed that we ought to articulate grace similar to Tchividjian. Freedom is found only in the redemptive work of Christ. His grace frees. Everything else enslaves.

For more:
Free eBook: "One Way Love" by Tullian Tchividjian
"Jesus + Nothing = Everything" by Tullian Tchividjian: A Review
Its About Christ: A Lesson on Hermeneutics
"The Tower of Babel" by Tullian Tchividjian
Tullian Tchividjian Leaves The Gospel Coalition
The Gospel Coalition Explains Recent Changes
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