In the early to mid-1970s, commercials for Mennen Skin Bracer aftershave were a staple of network television, especially sports programming. The tagline was simple: After the announcer deeply intoned how Skin Bracer’s skin tighteners and chin chillers wake you up like a cold slap in the face, a man would slap some on – always twice – and end the commercial with, “Thanks – I needed that.”
While minister, teacher, musician, and author Kemper Crabb’s aftershave preference remains proprietary information, he has taken Skin Bracer’s message to heart. His 2016 book “Liberation Front: Resurrecting the Church” is a Scriptural muscle-guided slap in the face to both individual believers and the church as a whole. It calls all back to the Biblically-ordained role and power divinely ordained for the church to uphold on Earth and in heaven.
Crabb is a Renaissance man, not only in how his music has often referenced said era and earlier both musically and lyrically but in his thorough knowledge of Scripture and history. He makes his case straight from the Bible and early church teachers/teachings that church membership is vital to every believer. Alongside this truth, Crabb outlines and then carefully details what he labels the church’s seven modes (Romance, Family, Body, Temple, Pillar and Ground of Truth, Weapon, Liberating Army). Throughout the text, Crabb exhorts, challenges, and confronts the reader to discard what Crabb identifies as an emasculated view of the church’s role in society on all levels. He urges instead embracing the Scriptural mandates and promised empowerment to be an influential force in first the lives of believers and, from there, the lives of others.
The book is not a mere recitation of the Riot Act to Christians equally afraid of their own shadow and determined to go it alone. Crabb points out that the way to genuine peace in Christ comes through embracing His divine empowerment and its corresponding ramifications in both the present-day heavenly places and here on Earth. In his view, the church is painfully shortchanging itself along with its members painfully shortchanging themselves. How? By failing to embrace and live out the nearly unimaginable strengths available for the asking once the entirety of Biblical guidelines and promises are accepted, with tremendous emphasis on the neglected, if not outright rejected, supernatural portions of true life in Christ.
“Liberation Front” is a challenging read on multiple fronts. Crabb refuses to dumb down his writing, and his stream-of-consciousness style can quickly befuddle the reader if they are not paying full attention. Also, as noted, the book is void of warm spiritual-sounding fuzzies designed to make the reader feel good about himself or herself regardless of where they are in life. But for the believer seeking adherence to, and clarification of, his or her proper place in the church, the church’s designed place in the world, and what God has in mind for His Bridegroom the Church, “Liberation Front” is as vital and mind/heart/soul-expanding as it gets in today’s world. Thanks, Kemper, we needed that.