I started reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan a few weeks ago. A group of ladies from my church and community are doing a group study of the book. Sadly, I haven't been able to join them but I wanted to read the book anyway! I miss seeing everyone but with the Hub's school, we just don't have a lot of family time in the evenings. I loved Chan's first book, Crazy Love, and it's turning out that I am going to feel the same about this one.
I like Chan. He writes honestly. He pursues truth. He doesn't water down the gospel. Chan, doesn't claim any theological position (he even admits that he's not sure what he would call himself) but it's pretty clear in his writings where he stands and I like that. He did go to The Master's Seminary (John MacArthur), which gives a little bit of possible info on his doctrine and theology. After reading Crazy Love and listening to a few of Chan's sermons, I've learned he's pretty clear on what he feels about God, Jesus and the gospel. And I'm excited to learn more about the Holy Spirit through his book as well. So, since I've only read the first two chapters and started chapter 3, I'll just leave you with a few quotes & comments that I love (quotes in bold). I'll be doing more posts soon as I continue to read. I wish I would have done this with Crazy Love, but I didn't. Maybe, in the future, when I go through it again I will blog about it.
The first two go together:
"The benchmark of success in church services has become more about attendance than the movement of the Holy Spirit. The 'entertainment' model of church was largely adopted in the 1980s and '90s, and while it alleviated some of our boredom for a couple of hours a week, it filled our churches with self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants attuned to the Holy Spirit."
"If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hit, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday. It certainly doesn't mean that people walk out the doors moved to worship and in awe of God. People are more likely to describe the quality of music or the appeal of the sermon than the One who is the reason people gather for 'church' in the first place."
Well, what can you add to that other than it's so true. How often do you hear how good a service is because of the music or the speaker. What about God? Could that be a huge sign that God is missing from our 'worship services'? Most churches have turned to entertainment and emotionalism and that has nothing to do with Jesus! In fact I just read a status the other day about 'church promoting'. I mean that was the literal phrase used. It had absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I think it's fantastic to love your church and your church family (I love mine!) but I think many, many churches have become solely a place to appease the conscience, entertain the masses and provide a place for socialization.And my favorite, thus far:
"It's easy to get into 'defensive mode', where you quickly disagree and turn to proof texts and learned arguments to defend what you've always believed. Rather than guarding your perspective, consider taking a fresh look at familiar passages to make sure you haven't missed something. You may end up with the same theology you've always had, but maybe you won't. Don't let your views be determined by a particular denomination or by what you've always been told.... Fear has a way of channeling our thought process. Fear of stepping outside of a certain theological framework causes us to be biased in our interpretation. We work diligently to 'prove' that our presuppositions were correct rather than simply and honestly pursuing truth."
I just love this. And although he's speaking primarily about the Holy Spirit when he talks about 'what you've always believed', this quote can also be used in so many other areas of thought, whether it be about the Holy Spirit, God, Salvation, ect! Often times we derive our theology and doctrine based on what we've been told, not necessarily what the Bible says. Sometimes we've been told the truth but many times not. And whether or not we admit it, our theology and doctrine, what we believe, shape us as Christians. What we believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, man and so on, is so important. And what I think Chan is saying is take a fresh look at Scripture, always read it with open ears and eyes. Don't be skewed by popular trends or denominational teaching. Let the Bible speak for itself. Be careful not to ignore particular parts by just brushing them off. If you don't understand it, seek His answers. The best commentary for the Bible is the Bible itself. Like Chan suggests, be careful about quickly disagreeing with proof texts to learned arguments. Oh, how I can hear myself just a few years ago running my mouth with exactly that, learned arguments... things I had been told. I have eaten a lot of words over the past few years! I praise God for opening my eyes to truth and allowing me to be teachable and I pray He will continue to do that with me in the area of the Holy Spirit. I have lots to learn....