Listening In: Larry Crabb


WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith, and today you’re listening in on my conversation with best-selling author and one of the elder statesman in the field of Christian psychology in this country, Dr. Larry Crabb.

Dr. Larry Crabb has written more than 25 books on psychology, Christian discipleship, and faith formation. 

Two books published in the 1970s, Basic Principles of Biblical Counseling (Zondervan, 1975) and Effective Biblical Counseling (Zondervan, 1977), established Larry Crabb as a national figure in the world of Christian counseling. Those books were widely used by pastors and others and helped birth an explosion in Christian psychology that continues today. He became known to a wider Christian audience in 1988 when he wrote Inside Out, which was named a book of the year by the Christian Booksellers Association and has gone on to sell more than a half-million copies.

 Larry Crabb has a new book, Waiting For Heaven: Freedom from the Incurable Addiction to Self. This book provided me with a great opportunity to sit down with a guy I’ve been wanting to interview for years, both to talk about this book, but also to talk about his life and career, a career that now spans more than a half century.

Larry Crabb spent nearly 25 years associated with Colorado Christian University in Denver, but he recently moved to Charlotte, which gave us the opportunity to meet face-to-face. I had this interview at his home in South Charlotte.

Dr. Larry Crabb, welcome to the program. It’s really great to be with you face to face. In this age of COVID, that’s a little unusual these days. 

LARRY CRABB, GUEST: This is great to look at your face and not on the screen.

SMITH: Well, I don’t know if looking at my face, I don’t know how great that is. 

CRABB: Being with you, perhaps. 

SMITH: But it is nice. It’s been a strange time, hasn’t it? 

CRABB: It’s been a strange time for a lot of people, my wife and I included. We’ve been quarantined for a couple of months when the COVID hit, but it’s given us a lot of time to be together and that’s been mostly a big plus. 

SMITH: Yeah, well, I’m glad for that. I’m glad that been a big plus and that you’ve had some time together. But COVID has not been the only challenge that you and your family have faced here in the last few months. 

CRABB: We’ve had a few. I’ve had a certain kind of cancer since 1997. It’s now 2020, so it’s very slow growing. It’s under control through regular treatments. I get one shot a month. That helps it. And a couple other procedures sometimes are required. Then I had leukemia starting about two years ago for eight months before that got cured, which is wonderful. But then we have a daughter-in-law—lovely, lovely Christian lady, 50 years old, a half Asian girl—and she just got diagnosed about a week or two ago with lung cancer and lung cancer is not a mild thing. It’s a serious issue. And we’re waiting now, waiting for her phone calls to see what the treatment plan is. So we’re in the middle of that.

SMITH: Yeah. Well, I’m sorry about that. And I know I’ll pray and maybe our listeners will pray as well for you and your family. But I’m glad your health seems to be better than it was. But it did, in some ways, kind of put you in touch with this whole idea of suffering. Can you say what you’ve learned through that season?

CRABB: I wrote a book on shattered dreams before I really had any. And now I think I’m trying to believe what I wrote. Suffering is, seems to me, is essential to the Christian life. You know, Paul tells us in Romans 8:22-23 we’re going to groan inwardly as we wait eagerly. And the word groaning is a strong word. And I think what suffering does in my experience—and I wouldn’t make this relevant for everybody, but certainly for myself—it puts me in touch with my deepest longing. You know, the thirst of Psalm 42. I long like the deer pants for water. I long for you. Oh God. And if life is going just perfectly down here, well, then God becomes a good waiter in a restaurant and brings you great meals and you have a great time. But when suffering comes, you discover a deeper thirst than you were aware of that you had before. Lewis talks about first things and second things. I thirst for good health. I thirst for a good marriage. I happen to have those. I got decent health now, and I got a great marriage, but that isn’t my primary thirst and suffering puts me in touch with what I want the most. And that’s something to do with, a phrase I like to use, dancing with the Trinity, entering into the life of the Trinity. And sometimes I get ahold of that as a real desire.

SMITH: Well, this idea of first things versus second things, you mentioned Lewis, you alluded to Lewis. Suffering can put you in touch with that, but in some ways too, suffering is a really, really hard question for humans, and even for Christian. Some people have said that the problem of pain, the problem of evil, those problems of pain and evil that we see because of the suffering that we experience, what I’ve heard called the headshot to Christianity. It’s the question that we can’t answer. Do you have an answer? 

CRABB: Check with me in 10 years. Let’s see if the Lord gives me more wisdom. But in the meantime, it is a headshot to Christianity. And I don’t think that until we understand that the core problem in human nature is not what I was trained in graduate school—getting a doctorate in psychology—the core problem in human nature really is the curved in on ourselves. As Augustine said, the essence of sin, that there’s something very wrong with me, that’s fatal. And Christ has taken care of that. And until I get that as my foundational perspective, I don’t know if I can deal with suffering. But if suffering is part of his refining plan, which does strike me as a very attractive plan, I’ve often thought, God couldn’t yet be telling a better story? A story with less of the difficulties that all of us have? And he seems to be saying, no. You’re going to groan until the day. And Peter even says in I Peter 1, I want you to put your hope entirely on what’s going to happen on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed. In other words, suffering now is difficult, but it’s doing something that God claims is good. Jeremiah 31, he says, I’m always doing you good. And my response is, you’re doing me good with gastrinoma? You’re doing good with leukemia. You’re doing my daughter-in-law good with cancer? What kind of good are you doing me? But there’s gotta be some answer to the question of what is good in God’s eyes versus mine.

SMITH: It seems to me, and from your work, I picked this up from reading you over the years and also a reading from scripture as well. That does really seem to be the key question, doesn’t it? In other words, when we look at Romans 8:28, all things work together for good, it’s sometimes really hard to see that and understand that if you don’t have a biblical definition of what good is.

CRABB: Pretty impossible, I think, to see it without that biblical definition of good. But that to me, and this is kind of not a new thought, but fresh in my mind, you know, sin did not begin in the Garden of Eden. It began with Lucifer. And Lucifer, apparently, if you look at Ezekial 28, I think it is, and Isaiah 14, if you look at those passages, you come to realize that Lucifer decided on his own I’m going to decide what is good, which belongs only to God that prerogative. But he now has decided what is good and what is evil. And that’s what he tempted Adam and Eve. To Eve, particularly, let me tell you, is God holding out on you? Is there some good he’s denying you? And as God denying me some good with the health in our family? Is he denying me some good when certain things happen—my mother had Alzheimer’s, my brother was killed in a plane wreck? Is God denying me good? By his definition, no, but man, does that raise the question what’s the cimbalom bonum? What is the greatest good? Not of lesser goods, but what’s the greatest good. And I’ve got to cling to that.

SMITH: So in some ways—and correct me if I’m wrong, if I say it this this way—in some ways, even though God is not the author of evil or suffering—

CRABB: Never. Maybe the author of suffering sometimes. He sometimes may be responsible for that.

SMITH: Say more about that. What do you mean by that?

CRABB: Well, I don’t believe God gave me cancer. I don’t believe God gave my mother Alzheimer’s. I don’t believe God caused my brother to die in a plane crash. I don’t believe that. But I do believe—maybe I need to change my phrasing there—either he causes or allows. And obviously if he’s God, nothing can happen without his permission. So he could prevent it and he doesn’t. So in that sense, he’s not the author of evil, but he certainly is the permitter and it has to be for good reason.

SMITH: Right. Right. Well, that makes more sense to me, honestly, then causing. I do get the allowing part of it and he allows it because there is some greater good that will result. There’s a passage, I believe it’s in one of Tolkien’s works in which there’s a creation narrative in which they’re singing or there’s like this symphony. But Satan or this bad angel is singing a discordant note. And the other angels go to God and say, why are you letting him do that? And he says, Oh no, he thinks he’s really messing this up. What he doesn’t know is that I’m going to use what he thinks is a discordant note to make something far more beautiful than it otherwise would have been. In some ways, is that what suffering is in our lives? That it feels bad to us now, but that God can make something even more beautiful because of that suffering.

CRABB: And what I’m realizing, I’m now 76 years old, but a Christian since I was eight. And I think what I’m realizing is it takes more faith than I ever dreamed was necessary to stay faithful because it’s hard to really believe that deeply to the point where it produces joy, produces hope, produces peace, to believe that no matter the extent of the suffering that Satan is creating and making havoc of this world generally and sometimes my life, miserably. That in the middle of that is God producing a unique beauty that could come in no other way. That seems to be the truth. I believe that, but it requires a lot of faith to believe that because I don’t see it. I can see evidence of it, but I got to believe in Hebrews 11 that faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the promise of things to come. That requires a level of faith and at age 76 I am longing to have more stable within my soul.

[BREAK]

SMITH: Welcome back. I’m Warren Smith. And today you’re listening in on my conversation with Dr. Larry Crabb. I should mention that some of the ideas we discussed in the first segment of the program on suffering are explained more fully in Larry Crabb’s 2018 book When God Makes No Sense. I commend that book to you, even as we continue our conversation by discussing his latest book, Waiting for Heaven. Let’s get right back to that conversation.

Well, Dr. Crabb, I could talk about some of the broader, bigger issues all day long, but I want to circle down a little bit and talk about your latest book. It’s called Waiting for Heaven: Freedom From the Incurable Addiction to Self. And I think a lot of people understand addiction in this sense: I’m addicted to alcohol. I might be addicted to drugs. I might have a sexual addiction. I mean, that language is sort of in the culture. We swim in that lake, so to speak, that pond. What do you mean by an addiction to self? 

CRABB: I’m not denying the addictions of alcohol, drugs, and sex. Those are very real and very problematic. And a lot of Christians struggle with them, too. But if this book does anything else—I hope it does a couple of things more than this—but it introduces the term relational addiction. And that’s a very different category than the substance addictions that we’re talking about or sexual addiction. And relational addiction is that when I’m interacting with my wife, for example, a wife of 54 years, I love her. We got a pretty good marriage. Every marriage has its shortcomings, but we’re doing really well. But are there times in my relationship with her when I’m manipulating more than ministering, maybe very subtly. You know, I’m feeling a little insecure and you’re not aware of it right now, but I’m going to talk to you in a way that’s designed to get you to respond to me in a particular way. I’m not living sacrificially for her at that point. I’m becoming relationally addicted to somebody else taking care of me in a way that my fist is clenched with a demanding spirit. And when I’m relating for that purpose, then I’m ruining relationships through my relational addiction.

SMITH: So is that then the definition of self addiction? Whenever you, even in your relationships, you’re really mostly primarily concerned for yourself? 

CRABB: It’s exactly the opposite to how the Trinity relates. Michael Reeves has a marvelous book called Delighting in the Trinity where the word he loves the most or loves a lot of words in that book. It’s a great book. He talks about the outwardness of God. God is always pouring forth what he has for the benefit of another. Relational addiction is exactly the opposite. I’m committed to my wellbeing at any cost to you. And when that’s the energy behind my relationships, then I’m a relational addict. And it’s very standard, we all have it. We all struggle with that.

SMITH: Well, let’s sorta move beyond the definition of what it means to be addicted to self and talk at least some about how we can get beyond that. One of the things that you talk about in your book is useful waiting. Can you say more about that idea?

CRABB: It struck me—and this was pretty much maybe the leading of the spirit to write the book. I’d be willing to claim that actually—that it occurred to me a while ago, that very few sermons that I’ve preached and very few sermons that I’ve heard have centered on the second coming. And I wondered why that is. Is it just not central to our existence to wait for what this coming and in heaven when the Lord promised I’ll make everything new? He promised no more tears, no more crying, no more mourning, no more death, no more pain. And it seems to me that if we can get a hold of what it means to wait for heaven, it generates the freedom to demand nothing now. Still to want much: I want a good marriage and I have it, and I’m blessed. I think that’s great. I have enough money to buy dinner tonight. And I’m glad for that. But am I demanding anything? Then it means I’m really not waiting for the day when my inconsolable longing—to use Lewis’s phrase—is going to be fully and completely satisfied forever. To the degree that that thrills me and excites me, to that degree I’m going to be waiting eagerly—Romans 8:23. And to that degree, I’ll demand nothing now so that when bad things happen, it isn’t a violation of my agenda. It’s a difficulty to endure. And I think a key verse on that is Colossians 1:11 where Paul says, I want you to know the almighty power of God. To do what? Well, to bless me and keep me healthy and keep me financially stable? And it’s not what it says. I want you to know the almighty power of God that will empower you to endure and be patient. And I think that’s what waiting for heaven is. And because we’re not emphasizing that as much as I think it would be good to do, then a lot of sermons, by no means all, that is not a general indictment, but a lot of sermons are tips for how to make life work better now. And that should be a secondary issue, not a primary issue.

SMITH: Yeah. You know, it’s funny that you talk about this idea of waiting, that is kind of in some ways the primary function of Christians in the church in this in-between time, right? This time between the Ascension and the second coming. I remember not long ago, I heard a sermon preached on the Nicene Creed. And one of the things that was said about that was that if you look at the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed, many of our listeners probably recite it in church. You know, I believe one God, father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and Jesus, his only son, our Lord has spoken through the prophets. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He died, you know, and all that stuff happened in the past, except he will come again and his kingdom will have no end. That’s the future. We live in that in-between time between all that in the past and the future. And that’s what, it seems to me, correct me if I’m wrong, Dr. Crabb, that that’s what you’re saying is that we need to live more fully in this in-between time.

CRABB: And the problem is that most of us live within what I simply call our smaller story and Solomon, Ecclesiastes says, live in your smaller story life that you can see around you between your birth and your death. And Solomon’s conclusion was that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race, meaning that their deepest longing is not going to be satisfied between your birth and your death. And so we’re called to live in between the cross and the coming. And until we understand that the cross makes a certain quality of life possible, but never completely to the satisfaction our souls legitimately desire until the coming.

SMITH: Well, say more about that because that seems to be a super important idea, not only in this book, but in your life as well. And maybe you answered the question already, but this idea of the smaller story in the larger story. What’s the difference and how do we live in the smaller story without even knowing it whenever God is calling us to live in this larger story.

CRABB: If I had to pronounce one indictment on the church, which I’m not qualified to do and I have no intention of dissing the church, but I think one of the common struggles and Christians, and this is within me as well, obviously, is what I would call premature contentment. That if my smaller story is going fairly well, then God’s a really good God. My son got a raise, so God’s good. My leukemia was cured, so God is good. Well, that’s the wrong definition of good. So, our smaller story, it seems to me, is a story that really focuses us on the blessings that God gives us on an earthly basis. And we lose the reality of spiritual blessings in heavenly places. And the larger story between the cross and the coming, it seems to me, is a story that we have to understand that at the worst moment, in our smaller story, the larger story is still on track. That something is unfolding in the larger story when the doctor told me, “You have leukemia.” Something is unfolding in the larger story when my brother was killed in the plane wreck. Do I believe that? My answer is yes, I do. Do I live it as well as I want? Well, spiritual growth is still required on my part. 

SMITH: Wow. So, in a way, whenever we hear language like to live life abundantly. Come that you might have life and have it abundantly. It sounds like what you’re saying is at least in part what that means is to live more fully in that larger story, to be more aware of what’s going on in that larger story and less focused on ourselves. That’s self-addiction.

CRABB: And that to me is the exact central point that I think the book is built on. Dostoevsky in Brothers Karamazov the key person there was asked, what is hell? And he said, hell is the suffering of being unable to love. What’s the abundant life? It’s an abundance of the ability to love, thanks to the work of the spirit. It is not an abundance of smaller story blessings. We’re not guaranteed those, but we are guaranteed spiritual formation. We are guaranteed that we could become a little more like Jesus completely. We have a long way to go before we can say completely. Heaven’s going to be required for that. But in the meantime, I believe that at my worst moments in life, when I’m so discouraged, when I’m so frustrated, I have the ability to love and I have the abundant ability to love, which when I don’t feel it, requires that maybe it’s more spiritual formation is in line. So I never should be prematurely content with where I am.

[BREAK]

SMITH: Welcome back. You’re listening in today on my interview with Dr. Larry Crabb. Let’s get right back to our conversation. 

Dr. Crabb, you used a word or phrase, I should say, at the end of our last segment that I want you to unpack a little bit more today because it’s also in your book. And then some of the other things that you’ve written and said. And that phrase was the phrase spiritual formation. And I think the way you said it in one place or maybe I saw it on a video or heard it on a podcast that you were part of—and correct me if I’m wrong, maybe I didn’t hear it right—was that you said as you got older and maybe came into a deeper understanding of your own processes and the processes of other people. That the idea of spiritual formation has taken on a deeper and richer meaning for you, that spiritual formation is what you are now more focused on helping others do. Am I getting that right about you and about your ministry?

CRABB: I have a license to practice psychotherapy. I no longer practice psychotherapy. I believe that psychotherapy, as I’ve understood it from a secular perspective, doesn’t deal with the core issues of the soul. It simply rearranges as the flesh. And I don’t see that as the destiny of humankind and, therefore, spiritual formation in my mind is learning what it means to live loved and to live to love. And that requires a fair amount of work. Donald Fairburn has written a wonderful book called Life in the Trinity in which he says that the exact center of Christianity is the recognition that the father loves me just as much as he loves his son. And when I read that based on John 17, my immediate thought was, wait a minute, Jesus never let you down, Father. I let you down every day, how on earth do you love me the same way you love the sun? And I think that’s where he kind of chuckles and says, well, have you ever heard of grace? And I think that’s the key. And the more I understand that, the more I think that spiritual formation is moving into the life of the Trinity, realizing that the spirit of God is within me. And I believe the spirit of God is the personification, is the person, he’s a real person. That is the love between the father and the son. And so it’s been a real shift for me because my background in certain evangelical, more fundamental circles defined discipleship as having devotions every morning as not committing the big sins, no adultery, no pornography. And if you kind of keep clean from the big sins, then you’re spiritually formed. That misses the point so badly. Obviously, still the spiritually forming person I trust is not going to be involved in adultery and pornography and robbing banks or anything of that nature, and maybe even having devotions every morning. I’m all for that too. But that isn’t the key to it. The key to it is an intimate relationship with the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. And until that elegant language becomes real, as opposed to just religious talk, then I don’t think we understand spiritual formation.

SMITH: Well, how does it become real? You said it involved work and I want to test a theory out on you. And you tell me if I’m right about it. It seems to me that part of that work is getting past something that you just said a moment ago, which is that God loves us just as he loved Jesus, but we’re not Jesus. And that in some ways that spiritual work is coming to an awareness that God really does love us as he loved Jesus. And he fully knows us and still loves us anyway. Is that where the work comes in? Knowing that we don’t have to put up a facade? That we don’t have to put up a barrier? That we can be fully transparent and vulnerable, and yet we’d been trained not to be transparent and vulnerable.

CRABB: That hits the mark. One of my favorite phrases is the key to sanctification—another word for spiritual formation if properly used in my mind—is what does it mean to look bad in the presence of love? Lewis says, don’t take a bath before you come to Jesus, let him do the scrubbing. And he’s going to scrub you because he loves you so much. I don’t know if I’m a mystic or not, maybe in the Tozer sense I’m an evangelical mystic. Maybe that’s possible, but it was just about two weeks ago I got so distressed watching the news and all the terrible things that are happening in the country and our culture generally. And then I got mad at a lot of other people for not behaving as they should. Then I went to bed and I got all caught up with my own failures. And I just became so aware of God. I’m just not the man that you created me to be. I have a long way to go. And I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I really sensed—here’s my mysticism—I really sensed the Lord was speaking to me again, not audibly, but I heard four things that just became alive in me. Number one, I want you. Number two, I’m with you. Number three, I can use you. And number four, I’m coming for you. And that was about two o’clock in the morning, about two or three weeks ago. And I went to bed a happy man. I just felt like a personal wreck, critical of a lot of things, and then became critical of myself for very good reason. And then I hear the Lord saying those things to me. And that’s the work of facing the reality of where you are. God meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be. He meets us where we are, not where we wish we were. And that’s just a critical part of the work. I got to become who I am in God’s presence. Lewis talks about take part in the process of being known. He knows me completely, but do I take part in that process by letting — I know you know this Lord, but I got to tell you I’m really, really mad right now, or I’m jealous or I’m scared or whatever the case might be. I’m not going to put on a good front, that I want to refuse to put on a good front with a couple of trusted friends. I want a couple of people to know me. Nobody should go to their grave with a secret. If you go to the grave with a secret, you’re blocking the work of the Spirit.

SMITH: So, how do we—and I realize in the very few minutes that we have left—or even with a book that you’ve written, we’re not going to get to the answer to this question, but where do we start? What would be — someone that’s heard what you just said, who wants to be known, who wants to be transparent? Who wants to let that facade down? Who wants to live in that awareness that God really is coming for us? That help us on the way, so to speak. What does that look like? Where do we start?

CRABB: I think it was Kierkegaard that said that the problem with most of us is distraction. There’s gotta be a silent moment as sacred space. And if somebody is listening to this now and saying, look, I’m kind of agreeing with what you’re saying, but don’t know how to get going on this. If you can do no more than this, take 15 minutes and don’t just read your Bible at that point. I’m all for reading your Bible. Don’t misunderstand, but take 15 minutes, maybe a little bit longer, go for a walk and just ponder your own internal world. What is going on inside of you? And just ask yourself a question: what do I want? And you’re going to discover if you stay with this long enough that you’re going to want what only Jesus provides, and that’s looking bad on the presence of love. What you want the most is to be fully known and fully loved. Those two don’t go together in our culture but in Christianity, they do. Become aware of what you most deeply want by just pondering it. Noticing when you get angry, noticing when you get jealous, noticing when you get scared. What’s beneath all that? What is the real energy supplying those difficult emotions that you’re experiencing? Look deeply into your soul. Search me, O God, see if there be some wicked way in me, lead me in the path everlasting. Psalm 139. By word of God, exposes the thoughts and intents of the heart. Just become open to the spirit of God, through his word, revealing what is really going on inside of you. And the closer you get to realizing what’s inside of you, the more you’re going to be drawn to Jesus.

SMITH: Well, that’s a powerful word, Dr. Crabb and it is something that each of us can do, that any of us can do on our own. I also hear you saying in this book and in your ministry and your work, that a whole lot of this is not alone work, that a lot of it requires spiritual direction. It requires spiritual formation. That it is done best in community or at a minimum with a small group of people who also are working to know you and are known to you. Is that a fair assessment?

CRABB: Put 10 stars on that. That’s exactly the case. Hebrews 10:24, you know, we’ve got to live together and I want to be paying careful attention to you so that through the power of the Spirit, something that’s fully alive in me can come out of me into your soul so that you are drawn to love and good deeds. God has given me, God has given every Christian, not me a psychologist, but me just a struggling stumbling Christian, God has given all of us the power to pour something that’s alive in us—based on the Spirit, based on the gospel—into another person. What kind of conversations can we have that really matter? My favorite phrase for spiritual direction is very simply: conversations that matter. And without human community where we’re putting weights on our feet as we’re trying to jog.

SMITH: That’s one of the ironies of modern life in a way is that, you know, you mentioned the word distraction just a moment ago and I think it would be hard to contradict this statement that I’m about to make, which is that we have never been more connected, technologically speaking, and never more alone at the same time. In part, because that connectedness doesn’t really create deep introspection and deep connectedness with other people, but it creates distraction from asking and answering those deep questions.

CRABB: I think curiosity is the lost art of Christian community. Am I really curious about your life? Are you really curious about mine? I think how often curiosity just gets ignored if I might say to somebody, I just read a good book and the person might say, Oh, I read a good book, too. How about saying, what book did you read? And why was it good? Or I read that book and I didn’t like it. Why did you like it? Curiosity, wanting to know the other person. But the reason we don’t want to know the other person at a deep level, we’re going to feel out of our depth. And when somebody shares what’s really going on in their lives, we’re going to say, Oh, you better go see a psychologist. I don’t know what I’m doing. 

SMITH: Right. I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know what to say. 

CRABB: That’s right. I feel inadequate. And I hate to feel inadequate. So if I get to know you, I’m going to feel inadequate. So I don’t want to get to know you so I can feel adequate.

SMITH: But it is precisely at that point of vulnerability of the other person really answering that question in a deep way. And the inadequacy that I might feel in responding to that, which is where the real connection takes place.

CRABB: The word “with” is such a huge word. I can recall when I was in the hospital in 1997 with cancer, a guy named Milt came to see me, a friend of mine. He was a counselor, but that wasn’t the point. He was Milt, my friend. And when he came into the hospital, I was not in great shape at the time. And I said, Milt, I really don’t want to talk right now. I’m so sorry. Thanks so much for coming. And he said, great, no problem. I’ll just sit in the chair and take a nap. I think that was some crazy level of spiritual direction. He was with me. He wasn’t with Larry the cancer patient. He was with Larry, my friend, who, yeah, by the way, has cancer. And he was me. And I believe with-ness is a very poorly understood concept that needs to be revived

SMITH: Well, Dr. Crabb, Unfortunately, our time needs to draw on in here, but I do want to ask one final question and I’m want to say this carefully, I guess. Maybe not so carefully. But you know, you’ve mentioned some of the physical challenges that you’ve had, and you’ve mentioned your age a couple of times. And while I think I, and many of your fans, who’ve read your books over the years hope you have many years of ministry left ahead of you. I think it’s fair to say that you probably have more years behind you than ahead of you. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want the legacy of Dr. Larry Crabb to be?

CRABB: I never quit. I have what some people call—my wife included—a tortured soul. I struggle, I think, probably too much. I’m not talking about intelligence. I’m talking about obsession to some degree. And there’ve been times in my life when I’ve doubted, when I’ve questioned. I came to Christianity because after being raised in a Christian home as a teenager, late teenager, Christianity, as I then understood it, wasn’t touching on my soul. So, I gave up Christianity and I went into psychology looking for answers that I couldn’t find in Christianity. I couldn’t find them in psychology. I came back to Christianity and that’s when the struggles really began because Christianity has a lot of mystery to it. And to stay with it because I really do believe Jesus Christ is who he claims to be, I believe he died for my sins, I believe I’m going to heaven because of that, I believe the gospel is a word of God. But there’s times my faith is challenged. But I’ve come to the conclusion in my own soul, I don’t know how to give up on Christianity. And I hope that at my memorial service that somebody says, here’s a man who never quit. He never quit on Christianity because he knew it was true. If I had one legacy, I think it would be that. Hopefully other things, but that strikes me as central.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

Like this story?

To hear a lot more like it, subscribe to The World and Everything in It via iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, or Pocket Casts.

iTunes

Free

Overcast

Free

Stitcher

Free

Pocket Casts

(Requires a fee)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.