“Forgotten God” by Francis Chan (Book Review)

Francis Chan is a bit of an enigma.

He has garnered great “success” by all cultural Christian accounts by becoming a popular conference speaker, best-selling author, and planting and pastoring a thriving and growing church body. Yet last year he abruptly left it all to spend time chasing down the specific call of God on his life by prayer, fasting and traveling the world abroad. Most in Christianity have praised him for this, some of have been perturbed by this. Chan has most recently been drawn to San Francisco, though he’s being intentionally careful about any public ministry implications in the future.

Chan’s sophomore release to “Crazy Love” is “Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.” The book reflects its author. It’s enigmatic. Warm. Winsome. Generous. Thoughtful. But in the end, enigmatic.

If you are expecting a thorough doctoral treatise on pneumatology, this shain’t it, and Chan admits as much (p. 18). If you want to know what end of the spectrum Chan falls in the Cessationist vs. Charismatic age old debate, again, he remains enigmatic. He does give some gentle rebukes to both extremes, and he keeps a pastoral humble attitude throughout when addressing issues in the modern movements (p. 53). According to Chan, he was “saved in Baptist Church, attended a charismatic bible study, went to a conservative seminary while working at seeker-sensitive churches, partnered with Pentecostal movements, and have spoken at wide variety of denominational conferences.” (p. 57)

More than anything this work is a practical guide to discovering the basic attributes of the person of the Holy Spirit and what massive lifestyle implications He brings to a person’s world. “The reality is that the early church knew less about the Holy Spirit than most of us in the church today, at least in the intellectual sense. But they came to know the Spirit intimately and powerfully as He worked in and through their lives.” (p. 36)

The most helpful and endearing portions of the book are the soul probing and provocative questions Fran challenges the reader with:

On the Holy Spirit’s unction:”If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered?” (p. 91)

The Spirit’s guidance to sacrifice:”Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?” (p. 107)

The Intimacy with the Spirit:”Do you listen to the Holy Spirit as you stand in line at the Post Office?” (p.131)

The fruits of the Spirit:”Do you exhibit more kindness than the Mormons you know? Do you have more self-control than your Muslim friends?” (p. 146)

Consistently, throughout the work Chan encourages the reader to literally “put the book down” and pray, search the Scriptures and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying personally right now (p. 110). Chan knows the limits of his own wisdom and ingenuity, and without the reader seeking a personal experience with the Holy Spirit his book will be another worthless clanging noise in the strange symphony of cultural Christian voices. I applaud him for that.

Though Chan briefly explores the theology (Ch. 3) and intimacy (Ch. 5) of the Holy Spirit, the central thrust of the book is this: the Holy Spirit has enabled us to live supernatural uncomfortable self sacrificial lives of love to others. As a result much of the book is not a revelation of the person of the Spirit Himself, but rather the sure affect the Spirit will have on the believer’s life. “The Spirit will lead you the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or comfortable or pretty place to be.” (p. 50)

At the end of most of the chapters there are some anecdotal stories of saints who were gripped by the Holy Spirit and yielded to His call in sometimes ordinary, sometimes spectacular ways. The subjects range greatly from the common folk Chan admires in his own church, to the notable Christian philosopher, Francis Schaeffer. These concrete illustrations give living examples to the reader of what it means to live a surrendered Spirit filled life. It may be adopting needy children, being content with a physical malady, enduring severe persecution, or just opening your home to others.

Francis Chan has a readable writing style that is accessible for all walks of Christian life. You will be challenged, but not berated by his encouraging analysis of the church’s tragic “neglect.” Though I made it a weekly study for a group of guys, the book could be easily ingested by a weekend warrior. I recommend it.

Bryan Daniels

Share the Linkage-Love Saturday

I had such a good time spreading the linkage-love last week I felt a similar urge to do the same this week too. No frills, no SEO kings/queens, no platforms, just simple people with a unique and captivating voice that should be heard.

There are some truly interesting people out there. Like, literally, everyone.

Below are some fine folk who are worth your blog-perusing time:

Gary Shogren’s Blog-Gary is an American seminary professor currently teaching in Costa Rica. If you have questions about the veracity of Scripture, especially regarding New Testament studies (especially the KJV controversy : )), give him a holler. Gary is knowledgeable, polite, and more than willing to tackle the toughest biblical issues.

Original Apple Junkie-This British girl and college student in Portugal does blogging like it was originally meant to be done. She’s intensely personal, self-deprecating, and her writing is a bit like taking a sneak peek into one’s journal (look at her recent Dentist adventures). I don’t know her personally, but from blog interactions I wouldn’t be surprised if she had the spiritual gift of encouragement.

Captivated by Christ-Linden C. Wolfe has a PhD in biblical studies, but he has a very readable style and simple consistent message: Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Linden churns out relevant material with theological depth on a daily basis. If you like what you read then check out his published books, they would be well worth it too.

Finding Truth-Nate’s blog is about his personal journey out of Christianity and into skepticism. He has an engaging style and is open to thoughtful discussion with people from all differing viewpoints. Nate’s one of the more honest and cordial people I’ve come across in the blogosphere.

Refusing to Tiptoe– Cristal has a great gift of writing she shares through her Christ-centered family oriented blog. She has a winsome way of drawing provoking analogies through the mother-child relationship she has with her young boys. She frequently shares biblical drawings and sketches from her son’s hands that will make you smile. I love the back story to the title of her blog too.

He First Loved-This uncommon group of college aged young adults have a contagious passion for Christ and it shows effervescently in their writing.  Led by Isaac Adams, their vision: “We’re regular people saved by the anything but regular God.” Go join them in their hope to spread the 1 John 4:19 message.

Enjoy your Saturday peeps. Give a hug to somebody you love. *If you ain’t got nobody here’s a virtual (side)hug from me*

His peace and grace,

Bryan Daniels

Share the Linkage-Love Saturday

Here’s to diversifying our blog reading palate.

If you just look for them, there are many interesting and creative peeps contributing to our great WordPress blog community. I just wanted to share some blogs I enjoy that may just pique your interest and become a part of your daily reading.

These are regular folk without conference platforms or names on the marquee (as far as I know) who still have a unique voice that should be heard.

Consider this a virtual shout-out to those unsung who are doing good consistent work even though blogging don’t pay the bills:

Everyone has a story-Bird is winsome, self deprecating, honest and really does have an embarrassment of unique personal stories to tell. You may enjoy her brand of humor about family, religion, and the past junk we all hide in the closet. Most all posts do have a good moral, but none of them feel contrived or soapbox-y.

Of Dust and Kings-TE Hanna has a keen theological mind and loves to share it in a variety of ways on his blog. From posts about theoretical physics to Star Wars, this Methodist minister gives the reader ample spiritual meat to chew on throughout. Give his engaging style a read and get challenged.

Arkenaten’s Blog-South African blogger, Douglas Pearce, has a strong affinity for photography, sweets, and atheism. According to the book excerpts he shares he has a pretty nice talent for writing fiction too. He’s a solid guy that won’t bite, but he will challenge you as a Christian, and I believe that is a good thing.

The Atheist Pastor-A former atheist and current pastor who frequently lowers the boom on the spiritually obese lethargic American church with his writing. Only read if you want a healthy dangerous dose of the biblical truth which may convict, challenge and compel you to reconsider your view of the gospel of Christ.

the Ink Slinger– A very bright seventeen year old kid who muses well about theology, literature, movies, music and all things zombie. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m partially basing my summer reading list on his thorough book reviews. Check him out to restore your hope in the young’uns (I need that as a public high school teacher : )).

There are many more worthy candidates of interest, if I left anyone out it is an omission of ignorance I assure you (and feel free to shout out your faves in the comments). Peace and grace and get out and enjoy the beautiful (or bad) weather in your neck o’ woods this Saturday.

Bryan Daniels

Real Marriage And Fairy Tales

My wife and I are reading “Real Marriage” by Mark and Grace Driscoll. We are only through the first two chapters and it has been a delightful experience thus far. I know there are many negative opinions and reviews regarding the work (I’ve read a few myself), but I have decided to reserve mine until I have read the book in full.

Also, I’d like to share a vid by Jefferson Bethke, the viral spoken word rock star who started an e-fire with “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” He actually has stated publicly that he wishes he would have tightened his language and theology down before airing that vid. As has been pointed out, Jesus didn’t hate all forms of “religion” and actually partook in “religious” acts while living on earth (going to the temple, enjoying the feasts, instituting the Lord’s Supper).  Bethke seems like a genuinely humble, God-loving bloke.

This vid on relationships and sex is stellar, and touches on what much of the “Real Marriage” book is about (Bethke goes to Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill):

If you’re married I hope you make Ephesians 5:25-32 the heart’s cry of your marriage. If you’re single don’t go chasing a Hagar in haste, God’s got every provision under control. And just maybe, you should read this: “Why You Should (Maybe) Stay Single.”

Bryan Daniels