Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan

I liked Crazy Love (my review), Francis Chan’s first book.  It was a challenge to live your life as if you actually believed all of that stuff that we as Christians claim.  It was a good book but I did not think that it really broke much new ground.

Forgotten God is much better, much more of a long term important book.  The basic premise is that many Christians are living as if the Holy Spirit did not exist.  Or worse, actually do not think the Holy Spirit exists.  I started this about 3 or 4 days before the Barna Group released a study on Christian’s view of the Holy Spirit.  I had no idea how many people (Christians) have wrong views of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity.  This study was an attempt at understanding how people of different generations view the Holy Spirit so the results are by generations.  Only 56% of Christians (older Christians were 64% ranging down to 38% of young Christians) believe that they “consistently allow their lives to be guided by the Holy Spirit.”

What was most disturbing is that overall 58% of self identified Christians view “the Holy Spirit as a symbol of God’s power or presence, but not a living entity.”  This mean that 58% of self identified Christian reject the orthodox view of the Holy Spirit as a separate person of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit has always been viewed as a co-equal and full member of the Trinity, with a separate “personhood”.

So Forgotten God is not over reaching in it title or thesis.  Significant numbers of Christians really have forgotten the Holy Spirit.

This is a short book, only 208 pages (just over 4 hours on audiobook.)  Chan is not attempting to write a book of theology of the Holy Spirit or the Trinity, he is trying to tell us about the Holy Spirit and in a very pastoral way lead us into a right relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Chan is very quotable and has a lot of one liners that really do a good job prompting you.  At least a half dozen times in the book he asks you to stop and go pray, or read scripture or something similar.  His point is that we will never learn our way to the Holy Spirit.  We have to actually move in the direction of the Holy Spirit and submit to his direction.

Here are a few ideas that illustrate his writing (these are paraphrases but pretty close, I listened to this on audiobook.)

-We are not going to find the balance between two unhealthy extremes. When talking about God there is only one unhealthy extreme. I have yet to meet someone with too much Holy Spirit.

-The Holy Spirit is to guide us, not us guide the Holy Spirit.

-Chan asks if we are being like satan and asking God to perform miracles to show that we can, not for the glory of God or because the Holy Spirit is instructing us to pray that way.

There is a fairly long segment devoted to Jesus saying he has to leave so that the Holy Spirit could come.  This was interesting because Chan really focuses on the fact that Jesus said it would be better for us to have the Holy Spirit than to have Jesus walking among us.  If you asked the average Christian, would you rather have the Holy Spirit or Jesus walking in person with you, most would pick Jesus.  But Jesus said they would be wrong, Jesus said it was better to have the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit lives inside us and it available to guide us always.

I would strongly recommend picking it up.  I listened to it as an audiobook and Francis Chan read it himself.  I really like authors reading their own work, even if they are not great readers because there is a passion that often gets lost with other narrators.  Right now it is only $4.98 at christianaudio.  So I would pick it up there.  It is $9.99 for kindle and $10.19 for paperback at Amazon.  The audiobook starts with an interview with Francis Chan, which was a little odd. But it did provide some context to the book.

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