Book Review: Wild Goose Chase

“Wild Goose Chase – Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God” by Mark Batterson.  Multnomah Books

  • Critical read
  • Must read
  • Good read
  • Read if you want♦
  • Read something else

Why: Since I have Irish blood in me, the explanation of the title of a book I found recently had some “Velcro factor” with me when it referenced ancient Celtic Christianity.  The line that hooked me was this: “Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit – An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery.  Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed.  An element of danger, and air of unpredictability surround Him.”  The “Velcro factor” went up much higher due to the subject of the book, which was not geese but the Holy Spirit.  That the Holy Spirit is overlooked to the point of being dismissed in much of Christianity today is perhaps the greatest of many tragedies that have beset the faith in the last sixteen-hundred years. We have ignored the most important doctrines of the New Covenant era to avoid yielding control of our lives and our congregations to God the Holy Spirit.  Any book that seeks to return us to doctrinal and practical purity regarding the Spirit of God is welcome reading.

Point: This book is vitally important to us today.  The Holy Spirit, fully God and fully imparted to the true disciple of Jesus, is the most salient feature of the church age, as that age is represented in the scriptures.  As that age has unfolded to present, the Holy Spirit is little more than an idea, an ephemeral influence, a doctrine. Sadly, He is more likely to be ignored than addressed, personally or corporately.

Batterson unpacks some of the features of a life of pursuing the Holy Spirit – chasing the Wild Goose – in a way that helps to make clear what the church has made unclear if not obscure.  First by highlighting the adventurous side of our God and His work in us, and then tying that adventurism to our pursuit of the Holy Spirit, Batterson begins to expose the importance of the pursuit of God the Holy Spirit.  He then tackles the pursuit-limiting thinking we bring to our faith regarding the work of God, such as the tyranny of ordinary living and the ceilings we impose on the work of our God by our lack of faith and vision.  Using illustrations from the biblical record, his own life and the experiences of people from his congregations in Washington, DC, Batterson brings to life the concepts in each chapter.

He also speaks to how the Holy Spirit directs those who are receptive to Him through circumstance and through speaking directly to them.  He also identifies the kind of thinking that helps us respond to the Spirit and to stay fresh in the pursuit of Him.

Impact: The importance of this book is clearly its focus on the long-neglected God who lives within and among us.  We have replaced the Holy Spirit as the core of the New Covenant era with rationality, religiosity, and responsibility.  We have propagated this error to our harm.  No matter how much we protest that “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion,” we have made it nothing more than a religion.  Evangelicals and Pentecostals are equally guilty of colluding with the rest of the religion in this. The foundational error in this departure from the faith once delivered is our ignorance, willful and otherwise, of the Holy Spirit.  Once the “wild goose” chased out of the yard, we have for more than a millennium built religious structures, forms, and practices that have excused our error and provided practical alternatives to giving the Holy Spirit the worship, prominence, attention and obedience He deserves.

Batterson has joined the thin rank of voices who are speaking to this unspeakable error.  That is what makes this book a must read.

Quote: “Deep down inside, all of us long for more.  Sure, the tamed part of us grows accustomed to the safety of the cage.  But the untamed part longs for some danger, some challenge, some adventure.  And at some point in our spiritual journey, the safety and predictability of the cage no longer satisfies.  We have a primal longing to be uncaged.  And that cage opens when we recognize that Jesus didn’t die on the cross to make us safe.  Jesus died to make us dangerous.”

Similar: Any book on the Holy Spirit by A.W. Tozer.  “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. Any book by John Eldredge.  “The Mystery of Godliness” by W. Ian Thomas.

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