Thinking Out Loud

September 21, 2009

Francis Chan on The Holy Spirit: The Forgotten God

I have to applaud publishers who are committing publishing deals to a whole new generation of writers, many of whom are only known to their local congregation and those of us in the blogosphere.

Forgotten GodFrancis Chan is one of those new voices.   The pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California has followed up his popular Crazy Love: Overwhelmed By a Relentless God with The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (David C. Cook).

Chan takes on a big topic here and tries to make it accessible to the common reader.   This book will whet the appetite of the novice Christian for more awareness of what we sometimes call, ‘the third person of the trinity.’  The book is relatively short, only 166 pages before the bonus chapter from Crazy Love begins.   With several blank pages throughout, it does leave the reader wishing Chan had written just a little more.

Although he quotes others who have written on this topic, such as A. W. Tozer, Chan is more concerned with presenting mini-biographies — one at the end of each chapter — of people who have experienced what it means to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   Call it theology by example.

Here’s a sample of his writing:

Nowhere in scripture do I see “balanced life with a little bit of God added in” as an ideal for us to emulate.   Yet when I look at our churches this is exactly what I see:  a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives.   People who have in a sense asked Him to join them on their life journey and follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before.   The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives.  Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us, He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life.

francis chanThis I would call passionate theology.

Chan is also not afraid in some chapters to be almost relentless in his use of interrogative sentences.   The tone is similar to what one might find in Chan’s spoken sermons in his church.   The reader is forced to respond.   This is devotional theology.

So again, don’t look here for depth of writing on all that the Holy Spirit is and does.   But don’t be too quick to dismiss this as lightweight, inspirational writing.  Chan is concerned that the Holy Spirit infuse both our lives as individuals and our churches.   This is constructive theology.

To hear Francis Chan in the context of his home church, download recent sermon audio from Cornerstone Church here.

To hear and see Francis Chan introduce this new title, click here to watch a 2:36 YouTube clip.


  1. Hi Thinking Out Loud! I just finished “Forgotten God” and have wrote up some discussion questions on my site: I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, dig a little deeper into Chan’s book, and consider its implications for our lives.

    Comment by msmucker — December 25, 2009 @ 11:39 pm

    • Those are awesome questions. It seems like a lifetime ago since I read the book, so I just skimmed your last three posts on the book, but this question stood out: “If you read your own biography or heard a speech at your funeral, how much of it would be about what you’ve accomplished as opposed to what God’s accomplished in and through you?”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 26, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  2. Terence and I are really enjoying Chan’s new “Basic” DVD series. We picked up “Holy Spirit” that has just been released in New Zealand recently. T’he first one, “Fear God,” was shockingly challenging! Interested to hear what your reaction to it was. :)

    Comment by Amy — March 23, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

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