Francis of Assisi lived over 800 years ago, but he's one of the hottest names in publishing today. In the last year, about 20 books have been published reflecting on this medieval man, with dozens more in the last few years. Most are written by and for Roman Catholics, but Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today magazine and former editor of Christian History, believes Francis has much to teach evangelical Protestants as well. Galli's latest book, Francis of Assisi and His World, is part of the IVP Histories series published by InterVarsity Press.
What are some themes from the life of Francis that are timely for the evangelical church today?
One of the things that most fascinated me about him was that he was a radical reformer of the church. He clearly saw every single thing that was wrong with the church—how materialistic it was, how worldly it was, how hypocritical so many of the priests were—yet at the same time, he was absolutely devoted and loyal to it.
Most reformers today despise the church. You can tell they're angry with it, and there's no loyalty or love for it. There are other people who love the church and are loyal to it, but they can't seem to see any faults with it. One of Francis's geniuses was to do both.
What was the nature of that genius?
One thing is that he was what I'd call a God-intoxicated person. He was absolutely committed and taken with the vision of who God is and what that means day to day. When you compare the beatific vision of God in his greatness with any human enterprise, that human enterprise is going to come in for some hard talk.
At the same time, he recognized that this great God of love uses certain institutions or certain movements in history to accomplish and communicate his ...1
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