Chasing Francis By Ian Morgan Cron is an interesting and engaging book. The book is written in novel format, but seeks to serve as an introduction to the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was called by God to “rebuild the church” and set about living a lifestyle and organizing a monastic order that set about to live out the Sermon on the Mount. According to the author and those who endorse the book, St. Francis has a lot to offer the Western church today. I was impressed with how well the modern-day fictional story of a pastor in the midst of spiritual crisis “chasing” the footsteps of Francis on a pilgrimage really did lend itself to being a catchy introduction to the life of St Francis.
My fear with the book is philosophical in that while the church is being called to action, little is being said about the truth of who God is. A subtle “kingdom now” utopia of good works theme plays throughout the background of the book. At one instance there is a suggestion for a church to send part of its missions budget to agencies that are formed around protecting the environment. The question of the hour then becomes… “What makes Mission, Christian?” In other words, while we are preaching the gospel with our actions and using words (only) if necessary, what distinctively shows our actions to be gospel oriented? Doesn’t Oprah give generously to just causes and Bill Gates? Are they ushering in the kingdom or are they just giving money to a good cause? What does saving the planet really demonstrate about the gospel? I need words to tell me.
I know by fan’s of this movement it will seem like I just don’t get it, but the truth is I do. I get it. I get it all too well. We will teach social justice and miss the gospel all together. I know that’s not being said, but I see it being done. Nothing wrong with what has come to be known as social justice (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc…) except when it dominates the platform it eclipses the real issue. We must not forget why people are hungry, naked, and in need of a savior in the first place. Social justice is a much needed band-aide to a hurting world, but Jesus is the only solution to the sin issue, please… lets not forget that.
The book is very well written including a study guide for group study found in the back of the book. I have a hard time recommending it because of the philosophical underpinnings that I have come to find lacking a fair treatment of the gospel. The retail price is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available at a discount at Amazon.com for $10.14. I gave it three stars
Nearly 2 years ago I came across this theme in another book you can read my questions and responses here.
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