Forgotten God:Reversing the tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit is Francis Chan’s second book after Crazy Love (review here). As in his first book each chapter is followed by a short inspiring biography of Christians that have influenced Chan.
Having read both his books now and begun watching the Crazy Love DVD with my life group, it’s clear I’m becoming a Chan fan. There’s one overriding concern that he has, western Christians are not living Christ-centred lives. We’re too comfortable and too busy doing whatever it is we’re doing but Jesus is the add-on not the centre. Most Christians look pretty much the same as most non-Christians except on Sunday mornings and that he, rightly, argues isn’t quite right.
In Crazy Love the diagnosis of the problem is that essentially Christians aren’t really understanding or being obedient to the things Jesus said. In Forgotten God it’s like receiving a second consultation from the same doctor who says, ‘Basically the problem is the same but try looking it at this way.’
So Chan delves into the lack of difference by wondering whether we’ve neglected the Holy Spirit and in doing so clearly knows he’s wandering into dangerous territory. But Chan knows he’s in a minefield and treads both wisely and carefully offering the usual challenges: to the conservatives to be not so quick to judge and the charismatics to be less weird in general. It’s good advice.
What Chan does so well is marvel at, genuinely pause and be in awe of some of the incredible promises/challenges of the Bible and in this case ones that relate to the indwelling Holy Spirit and take them seriously. In this he’s absolutely right, a life full of the Holy Spirit is a life transformed and that if we keep in step with the Holy Spirit we defeat sin in our lives. Sin is a failure to listen to the Spirit.
He doesn’t really deal with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and other such ‘weird’ things are conspicuous by their absence or any discussion on ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’. I did get the impression, though, that if you’re taking seriously the Holy Spirit’s presence when it comes to character, truth, righteousness, lifestyle, worship then you’re likely to take seriously the Holy Spirit when it comes to power.
Obvious, neglected and crucial were the words Chan used to describe our understanding of the Spirit and he’s probably right. So, with some caution regarding what is not discussed, this is a great book to read because it powerfully calls us to a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit.