The Pressure’s Off: There’s a New Way to Live by Larry Crabb

Dr. Crabb wrote this book to share his ideas about the “two basic approaches to life”: the “Old Way,” described as “deciding what you want most out of life, and doing whatever it takes to get it,” and the “New Way,” which is “wanting God more than anything, that even His blessings will not satisfy you (Jacket Cover).” The dilemma of every Christian is to “take matters into his own hands” and fall into the pattern of “the old way,” which gives the person more control over their situation. They run their everyday lives with their own energy and become sad when things do not go as they planned. There is a sense of selfishness because our needs become more important than the needs of others, including spouse and children-” it’s all about me” (66). People expect to receive blessings from God just because they have done certain things “right” (i.e. “godly businessmen who observed the highest level of integrity and expect that God will bless their bottom line”) (55). Dr. Crabb shared, “No Old Testament saint was ever good enough to merit God’s blessings…none of them earned God’s favor by performing up to God’s standards” (55), then stated, “We’re never more deceived than when we think we’re living for God but in fact are living for His blessings” (82).

Dr. Crabb inspires the reader to “value God the most” and to consider blessings as secondary “passions”(103). This statement is not revolutionary because it is a foundational command: “Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30), but instead of offering practical ideas on how to accomplish this, Dr. Crabb reiterates the differences between the “old way” and the “new way.” He does, however, offer some vague suggestions on how to live the “new way of the Spirit”: (1) Reflect on where you are; (2) Recognized the fork in the road that is always before you; (3) Refocus your goals; (4) Realize what God provides as the means of grace; and (5) Reorient your prayer life to match New Way living (159-61).

When a Christian desires to align himself to God, then the steps Dr. Crabb shared happens naturally. The problem is his recipe for “living a new way of the Spirit” lacks concrete structure. He never addressed the “how” part of living the “new way.” He spent most of his time explaining then re-explaining what it means to live in the “old way.” He called Christians to live more authentic lives and contrasted the characteristics of both ways. Dr. Crabb said, “Followers of the New Way accept the unresolvable tension in life because their hope is in the invisible God,” and “Followers of the New Way struggle to be truly authentic, however their rest is in the present God” (171). He spoke of the end results of living the New Way, but he never addressed “how” one is to get there. On page 174, Dr. Crabb asked a pondering question, “Could I praise God without them (blessings)?” It seemed too harsh for Dr. Crabb to state, “The Old Way is demonic (175).” Maybe some people see blessings as an indication of God’s care for them.

The book of Job is an extraordinary example of the “new way” Dr. Crabb discussed (which really is not so “new” since we have a biblical example of it). Job’s dedication to God is what our faith should be, but people are generally weak and sinful. People are affected by circumstances and can become distracted by them- which can come in between them and God. Dr. Crabb said, “I’m not wrong for asking God that both I and the one I love will experience deep contentment and rest. But I am wrong for wanting the trouble to go away more than I want to draw near to God (210).” I understand Dr. Crabb’s position, but I also know there are other reasons why people ask for blessings. This book is just like any other of Crabb’s books-new way versus old way with little practical application.

Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti

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