My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Anyone who’s read my blog for any amount of time knows of my respect for Francis Chan, and you probably know how much I loved his first book Crazy Love. And I – apparently – was not the only one! Crazy Love had a pretty big impact. The book sold 250,000 copies in its first year and has been translated into more than ten languages.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to review Chan’s latest book Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, which was released on Sept. 1.
Let me get this out of the way: it’s exactly what you would expect. The title gives the whole thing away. (That’s not a bad thing!) Chan approaches this book with the same warm and relaxed style with which he wrote Crazy Love. He delivers the same disarmingly subtle profundity.
The reason for Forgotten God? It’s found in the introduction: “While no evangelical would deny His [the Holy Spirit’s] 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.”
Chan argues convincingly that we have neglected the astounding gift of the Holy Spirit to the point of forgetting him. In the end, he weaves together biblical truths and life stories to show us what remembering the power of the Spirit might look like.
I only wish that characteristic profundity were a little more prevalent. There are definitely moments of truth to chew on in the early chapters, but I felt like Chan was taking an exceptionally long time to get where he was going. Prior to Chapter 7, the most touching, engaging, and thought-provoking parts of the book are really the biographies between chapters.
But it all really does pay off in that last chapter. Chan pulls together all the details to paint a picture for us of a Spirit-filled life. And some readers may actually be disappointed that he doesn’t give a by-the-numbers method for achieving it. He just wants us to ask the hard questions: look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and “ask yourself if you possess each to a supernatural degree.” Pray that the Holy Spirit would come upon you. Obey His promptings when they come. (How many of us have stifled His power in our lives by ignoring Him?) Stop depending on yourself and follow the Holy Spirit into situations that require you to depend only on Him.
All told, Forgotten God is not quite as powerful as Crazy Love, but it is definitely a worthy – and needed – follow-up. The truths in Forgotten God enable the kind of life Chan calls us to in Crazy Love. It’s the Spirit that, in Chan’s words, “Give[s] us a love strong enough to motivate courageous action.”