The Faith of Leap – Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage
Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
In an age of economic downturns and political instability, it’s easy for those in the church to live as safely as possible, without risk, yet still seek even more security. In The Faith of Leap, Frost and Hirsch encourage the Western church to risk – embracing a life adventure with a God who is anything but safe!
Søren Kierkegaard proposed that believers needed to take a leap into the arms of a loving God and not rely solely on God’s unconditional acceptance of humanity, which was the stance of the Scandinavian Lutheran theological establishment of his time. In short, Kierkegaard reacted to the theological climate of his era – and postulated a more conservative and orthodox position than what was being explored and accepted at that time.
Frost and Hirsch play on Kierkegaard’s phrase and also speak to their theological surroundings as the Western church grapples with a lack of vision and lost sense of mission. They encourage us to leave our idols of safety and security, and call us to “embrace a theology of risk, adventure, and courage.”
They point out our own communities are the starting places for mission, and the book provides many practical examples and suggestions to get started. In a post-churched culture, it’s true that many Christian communities are focused on their own survival, rather than being involved in God’s mission; however they’ve not necessarily lost their sense of adventure, nor even lack courage. It’s more likely that our churches have lost their sense of calling and vision.
I’m not convinced this book so much presents a theology of risk as a recasting of Christian mission framed in the language of adventure and courage. A more serious study of adventure would include a study of our own cultural understandings of what adventure is. It would include Frost and Hirsch’s study of our idols of safety and security, and would also include some challenges regarding the Western church’s lost sense of mission. It would examine how risk and adventure affect the formation of a Christian community.
Don’t get me wrong, Frost and Hirsch raise pertinent questions: Does the church need be so risk-averse? Does the church need a renewed understanding of God framed by mission? (Also tackled in Hirsch’s Forgotten Ways).
Their main premise, however, misses the mark. In our consumer/entertainment-based, adrenaline-fuelled society, the book may catch one’s eye by framing the topic this way. However, I wonder if what we really need to counter the idols of safety and security are renewed calls to faithfulness and a re-examination of our understanding of God. A look into our Anabaptist past and history reminds us very quickly about remaining faithful during times of insecurity and upheaval. I wonder how our international brothers and sisters would receive this book – especially when some are daily living adventures filled with risk and stories of courage!
Although this book is written for a Western church that has forgotten its persecution-filled past, I wonder if it could have challenged us to look at some contemporary examples of how our brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of the persecuted church now have remained faithful in the midst of crisis – yet continue to grow. That would have made some eye-opening and challenging reading!
Perhaps we too need to take a leap of faith back into the arms of a loving God, as we learn once again what it means to be faithful. Now, that is something risky.