Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: Forgotten God by Francis Chan

This is my second Francis Chan book that I picked up free when they were offered for Nook over Easter.  I was pretty impressed with the first one, but I liked this one even more.  It's about the way Christians have neglected the Holy Spirit because of how controversial the subject can be.  Many tend to feel very strongly about the Holy Spirit and what His purpose is, and Chan uses his book to explain what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, apart from what various traditions hold.

Writing
The book is certainly well written.  I read a review on Goodreads that categorized it as "Vernacular Theology" and I think that is the perfect description.  It goes deeper than "inspirational" writing, but is still accessible to the average reader.  It's not particularly academic and is written in a way that is easy to read and understand, but the subject matter is more complex than what is typically covered in the Christian Living genre.  This makes it a great read for someone who isn't ready or in the mood to tackle the more difficult works but is also looking for something deeper than surface inspiration.

One of the things I really like about Chan's writing is that I can imagine him speaking to me face to face.  He has a very distinct style that I think particularly resounds for anyone who listens to his podcasts or has watched his videos.  It's original and very personable.  While it wouldn't work well for a more academic work, it is perfect for the message Chan is trying to convey.  His style also conveys his humility, which is so important when tackling a controversial subject.  I really appreciate his use of Scripture to inform his reasoning, rather than just back up what he thinks.  He's not presenting a treatise on his own personal thoughts or opinions, just presenting what the Bible says - and he is the first to admit that he doesn't have all the answers.  I think this attitude, which I have seen in all his writing and heard in his messages, is what really draws me to him.

Entertainment Value
Whether or not you're entertained by this is really going to depend on your interest in the subject matter.  The intended audience is, obviously, Christian, and particularly Christians who are able to think open-mindedly about the Holy Spirit.  If you are clinging tightly to a particular dogma that you cannot let go of, you probably won't like this book. 

On the other hand, if you're interested in exploring what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit, I think you'll find it pretty interesting.  I did, at least.  I think this covers the basics, which was ideal for me, but if someone is already something of an expert on the topic, this might be too basic.

Overall
I think it's a book that has a fairly narrow target audience (Christians who are open to learning more about the Holy Spirit, who aren't too entrenched in dogma to question their practices, and who haven't already studied much on the topic) given the scope of readership as a whole.  But I also think that within the narrower range of Christian non-fiction readers, this could have a wide appeal because of its conversational style and the humility of Chan's approach.  I recommend giving it a try.

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