Thursday, 2 May 2013

Book Review: Forgotten God by Francis Chan

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting


As I indicated when I started this blog, one of my priorities would be to provide book reviews on interesting Christian books that I come across from time to time. So here it is: my very first book review on Alive in Christ!

Francis Chan's Forgotten God is a great book - let me just start by saying that. Why the title Forgotten God you might be thinking? Francis Chan outlines his justification for his provocative title from his introductory passages, suggesting that the Holy Spirit is:

"...tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I'm willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can."

Francis Chan poses this challenging thought:

"...what if you grew up on a desert island with nothing but the Bible to read? Imagine being rescued after twenty years and then attending a typical evangelical church. Chances are you'd be shocked... Having read the Scriptures outsides the context of contemporary church culture, you would be convinced that the Holy Spirit is as essential to a believer's existence as air is to staying alive."

He continues with this statement:

"There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today. In many modern churches, you would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way."

Challenging thoughts indeed! Through his book, Francis Chan provides a basic overview of the Holy Spirit and provides some fantastic, thought provoking statements - such as the ones above - that could be pondered for some time after the reader has finished the book. This is what Forgotten God does well. Forgotten God is not a deep, theological book, written to provide definitive answers on all aspects of theology about the Holy Spirit. Rather, Francis Chan's Forgotten God provides an endless array of statements, illustrations and stories which challenge and unsettle the reader, causing the reader to reassess the degree to which the Holy Spirit has influence and is evident in their own life.

Tim Challies in his book review of Forgotten God makes the following statement in concluding his review:

"...for those who have thought little about the person and role of the Holy Spirit, Forgotten God may be just the thing to get them thinking. For those who have not thought about the Spirit for a long time, this may serve as a good wake-up call. It is far from a full-orbed or exhaustive treatment, but neither is that its purpose. Chan sets out to get the reader thinking “that by keeping in step with the Spirit, we might regularly fellowship over what He’s doing rather than what He did months or years ago.” It’s about living a life dependent on and surrendered to the Spirit, about seeking how we can live faithfully here and now. And this he accomplishes well."

I think Tim sums it up well. Francis Chan's Forgotten God is a great read that exhorts the reader to live a life of reliance on - and surrender to - the Holy Spirit. Any book that encourages the reader to do that can only be a good thing in my opinion.

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