Reckless Theology / Reckless Worship

This has been rattling around in my head for a while, and it’s time for me to put it all in one place...into words.  As of May 19, the song "Reckless Love" (by Cory Ashbury) is #1 on the Christian Music Song Chart.  This song is controversial (at best) and worshiping a false god (at worst, and is what I have become convicted of.)

Singing can be an important way of learning...and what we sing when we worship "sticks" - if you don't believe that, try saying the ABC's without singing.

Discerning the difference between right worship and wrong worship is as life-saving as discerning the difference between food and manure.

I'm organized this into these sections:

  • Reckless Leaven - how much falsehood is "too much" when we're singing about a sovereign and holy God?
  • Reckless Theology - Can God be divorced from His love?
  • Reckless History - are all of these examples in the song "reckless?"
  • Reckless "Bibling" - do we dare use a word to describe God that God uses to describe evil?
  • Reckless Portrayal of God - If God's love is reckless, then God is not sovereign.


1. Reckless leaven

I had somebody say (not address me *directly* but a sort of side swipe) that it was sad that people “get hung up on” that one word (reckless.)

How much dog s&#t does it take in a batch of brownies to make the whole batch inedible?

Or (using a Bible metaphor) How much leaven does it take to leaven the whole lump?

This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. ~~Galatians 5:8-9

The Bible also says to

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16 ESV)

- closely attention to the little things - because even one word can lead you to false worship.

Getting "hung up" on one word is the difference between "close watch" and "sloppy."

2. Reckless Theology

Below are the words of the writer of “Reckless Love.”

"When I used the phrase, 'the reckless love of God,' when we say it, we're not saying that God Himself is reckless, He's not crazy. We are, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. But what I mean is this: He's utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His own actions with regard to His own safety, comfort and well-being. He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself on the line, He simply puts Himself out there on the off-chance that you and I might look back at Him and give Him that love in return." - Cory Asbury.


Definition of reckless (merriam-webster)
1: marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences

Question:  Can a perfect and holy God lack caution?  Can a righteous God be irresponsible?  Is God careless - of consequences or anything else?

If your answer is “no” - then this one word indicates a wrong-headed idea of the nature of God.

2. Can we divorce God from His attributes?

God is love.  To call His love reckless is to call *HIM* reckless, since it is impossible to separate God from His attributes.

Could I say, “it’s not me that reckless, it’s only my driving?”  or...”it’s not me that’s reckless, only my drug use?”

If your answer is no, then if God’s love is reckless...God is reckless.

3. Reckless History

Let’s imagine that you are alone in the house and have a 1 year old and a 3 year old that are playing in the back yard.  The 3-year-old wanders off.  Would it be “reckless” to leave the one at home go look for the other?   Yes.

But...if you had a sister in the house to watch over the one, while you go look for the other...not reckless.  Ask yourself...on the night of Christ’s birth...did the angels appear to one shepherd, or more than one?

If your answer is “more than one,” then the word “reckless” does not apply to "leave the ninety-nine".

4. Reckless "Bibling"

Does the Bible use the word “reckless?”  How?


Proverbs 14:16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.

Luke 13:15 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

2 Timothy 5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God


2 Peter 2:10 The Lord is especially hard on people who disobey him and don’t think of anything except their own filthy desires. They are reckless and proud and are not afraid of cursing the glorious beings in heaven.


1 Peter 4:4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.

Even Bible translators understand that to be “reckless” is not a good thing.


5. Reckless Portrayal of God

Let’s look at the song-writer’s explanation (perhaps the most important piece.)  This takes a bit of “connect the dots” but they’re important dots, in order to get what is being said about the nature of God.

Specifically: He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself on the line, He simply puts Himself out there on the off-chance that you and I might look back at Him and give Him that love in return."

Question 1: Does an omniscient (all-knowing) God “wonder” (to think or speculate curiously)  about anything?

Can  the God who can number the hairs on my head fail to *know* without any doubt...what He will gain or lose by anything?

If your answer is no...then you do not worship the god of Reckless Love.

Question 2: What does “off-chance” mean?

If I were to ask any person reading “I’m writing this on the off-chance that somebody will read this with an open mind”...

Off-chance = hoping that something may be possible, although it is not likely:

This meaning is vital to understanding Ashbury's god.

  • the god of Reckless Love, died on the cross - on the off-chance that somebody *might* look back and return his love.
  • This  god of Reckless Love does not know the future.
  • The god of Reckless Love does not *hold* the future.
  • This god of Reckless Love hopes that some will come to salvation, but does not hold it likely.

(by the way, this idea that God cannot/does not/will not know the future is a belief called "open theism" - "Decisions not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known even by God. They are potential–yet to be realized but not yet actual." ~~Clark Pinnock)

If God's love is reckless, then God cannot be sovereign.

Does God know the future, including who will turn to Him?

If your answer is yes, then you do not worship Ashbury's god.

The next point is an “internal debate” between Reformed Theology and others.

The God I worship does not *need* to “wonder” about *ANYTHING.*

He does not “wonder” if anybody will love Him back...because He sovereignty elects those who will.

  • It is God who opens the eyes of our hearts.  
  • God who wills us to believe.
  • The God I worship knows the future, holds the future, *makes* the future.

Scripture convicts well as my conscience and the song-writer's own words...that for me to sing “Reckless Love” is to worship a false god.  Here I stand.




Share Button

3 thoughts on “Reckless Theology / Reckless Worship

  1. I've been following this debate kind of from the periphery. I admit to being a little jaded, because I have friends who tend to find something wrong with almost every song out there. It's wearing me out a little, not that I don't understand the earnestness.

    A confession - I'm not reformed. I believe the Bible and I understand that the (incredibly complex from my point of view) doctrine of election is a truth and is taught in Scripture.

    I think the one thing that has me taken aback a bit is the charge of heresy. You, here, in so many words make that charge of Asbury and another friend actually used the words (although he said it wasn't a "damnable heresy", whatever that means).

    Is this lyric, in your view, a sign of an unregenerate heart? Or is it less than precise theological thinking or artistic license (for example, from a human point of view God's love can *look* reckless). Has anyone asked Asbury if he thinks God doesn't know the future or isn't sovereign?

  2. Hi Bill - it's been a while and it's great to "see" you!

    First, I try not to be critical about songs that we sing. I don't care for "Good, Good Father" but that's because I find it musically too repetitive and boring - but there's nothing *wrong* with it. (I'll mention it again later, but will lead with it also - since "Reckless Love" hit the charts, we've been singing it in my church, so's not a song I can turn off if it's on KLOVE.)

    Next, In the beginning of the post, I made a distinction between "at best" and "at worst." the "less than precise theological thinking" or "artistic license" would fall under the "at best." If we're singing it in churches, how theologically sloppy should we be?

    My pastor made a point last Sunday about music being a powerful learning medium. What are we teaching our congregation when we sing this song? "Reckless Love" is super repetitive and musically...droning. But it makes a good "ear worm" and once it's in your head it doesn't like to let go.

    Yes, I do think it's "heresy" - but the definition of heresy is simply "wrong teaching" and we've all been guilty of putting forth teaching that is wrong, in one degree or another. (I suspect that the "damnable" part would be teaching that undermines the salvation issues and leads people to hell.)

    I'm not in a position to judge Ashbury's salvation - but (as this song is performed in my church on a regular basis) I am in a position to judge this song on its merits.

    It is because I'm subjected to it in my church that I feel so strongly, and there's only been about one song that I've really wanted to speak out publicly about.

    And it was comparing how the Bible used "reckless" to how Ashbury uses it that clinched it for me. I (personally) cannot worship God with this song.

    I'm also leaving room for the uninformed/non-discerning souls who love this song based on the way it makes them feel. But I do inform myself and I do try to flex my "discernment muscle" - and therefore I am left without an excuse.

    It takes click to discover that this is a controversial songs. If a church simply cannot find another song to sing about the Love of God, then by all means, invite the controversy in. But this sort of controversy in my church could be easily avoidable. I've posted a couple of things to facebook, but generally, I make it a point to *never* bring up the topic with others. I'll respond, but will not initiate. I don't think anybody from my church reads my little blog.

    Does that help?

Leave a Reply

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

Comments links could be nofollow free.