Forgotten God - Book Review
The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan I picked up Forgotten God a year ago this month at the National Pastors Convention that was sponsored by Zondervan and Intervarsity Press. I am still grieving that this event was canceled this year because books were half price. I basically blew my whole book allowance plus a hundred or more $$ on books that I am basically halfway through reading a year later. Forgotten God is one of those books that I finally began reading this month and I was glad that I waited. The timing couldn't have been better since I was (at the time I started working through it) preaching on the Holy Spirit to my congregation. It helped to solidify some things that I was thinking and eventually would convey to my flock, and it opened my eyes to some new perspectives as well.
Francis Chan is the senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley California. He is an evangelical with a social conscience and possesses an understanding of how the Church, the Body of Christ must change and emerge from it's sleep if it's going to have any sort of relevance in our culture. Chan's theological bent is the product of a strange mix of conservative, non-denominational, Baptist, mainline Protestant and Pentecostal backgrounds. All of these have both formed and informed his understanding of the Holy Spirit of God and how God's Spirit is at work in the world and in the lives of God's people.
Chan's essential premise is that the basic doctrines and beliefs about the Holy Spirit in the various Christian traditions have been sadly lacking. It's either feast or famine, according to Chan. On the one hand, those who adhere to the Pentecostal tradition seem to be leaning heavily on the freedom of the Spirit while on the other their conservative, evangelical brothers and sisters don't lean on freedom at all. As a result, Chan believes that most Christians have a skewed understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does and why Christians need to feel and to experience the Holy Spirit.
Interspersed throughout the book are stories of earnest Christians who have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The stories are inspiring and do help to provide the reader with a real glimpse into what Chan is talking about at the end of each chapter.
In the end, I believe that Chan wants to re-frame the doctrine of the Holy Spirit into a "both/and" kind of theology. While he definitely sees the need to ground our understanding of the Holy Spirit in Scripture and to have a sense of what is decent and in order for the good of the Church, Chan also recognizes that "the wind [of the Spirit] blows where it wants..." The best way to truly experience the Spirit of God in fresh new ways, according to Chan, is to simply be in a real and true relationship with God where it becomes much easier to see and to hear what the Spirit is doing.
I recommend this book for anyone who is seeking some basic knowledge about the teachings of the Holy Spirit, or for anyone who feels that their spiritual life is a bit dry and barren.