Cory Asbury's song "Reckless Love" is fast becoming a popular worship song across many churches. The song just took top honors on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs Chart. And Asbury's album of the same titular debuted atop Billboard's Top Christian Albums Chart upon its release in late January. However, are the words heretical? Can God's love really be described as "reckless"?
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
This was the question a listener asked Pastor John Piper. Piper is the founder and leader of desiringGod.org and is the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years. His books include ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word,and God's Passion for His Glory,and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ.
This is what Piper has to say about the song: "Now, I don't know enough about the theology of the author to know what dimension of the meaning of reckless he intended. I am aware that today there's a kind of theology that sees God as not knowing the future and therefore treating him as though he could take real risks since he doesn't know what might happen.
In the second case, the giving of his Son might be described as reckless. He might have given his Son for salvation and not have succeeded. I mean, there are a lot of people who believe this, who believe that God doesn't know the future exhaustively; therefore, he's taking real risks because he doesn't know what the outcome is going to be - at least not in the short run.
If reckless sort of fits into that theology, I would regard it as heretical.
Now, I hope the author did not intend it that way. In fact, it seems to me that there's good evidence in the song that he didn't mean it that way. But the reason the word reckless raises the question is because, in modern English, you have to work really hard to put a positive meaning on the word reckless in relation to God."
Nevertheless, Piper agrees that the word "reckless" has many negative connotations. "Now, that is the general sense that one gets when one hears the term reckless driver. He doesn't care about what other people do or what he might do to other people.
But maybe the author used the word reckless in the sense that God's love may look, to an outsider, foolish, ill-advised, brash, and breakneck, but in fact the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. The recklessness of God is more assured of success than the most carefully executed plans of men. Maybe.
In other words, maybe he's treating the word reckless the way Jesus treated the word hate when he said you have to hate your mother and father in order to follow me (Luke 14:26). Well, it looks like hate to a lot of people when you follow Jesus and leave your mother and father behind."