A more accurate title for Ian Morgan Cron's book, Chasing Francis- A pilgrim's Tale, would have been: "My Coversion to Roman Catholicism from Evangalism". Cron's work is a fictional novel which tells the story of a dissapointed, dissolusioned, young evangelical pastor, who has a spiritual break-down following the unexpected death of a child in his parish. Unable to find solace within God's word, the hero, a young pastor named Chase, seeks to find "another Jesus", whereas on page 37 he states: "I'm sure there's another Jesus I haven't met yet. How on earth do I find him?". Yet, this is in direct opposition to Paul's warnings in his letters of the new testament of the bible, when he explains that some followers will abandon their faith and the truth that they learned for a false gospel or a false depiction of Christ. Also Jesus tells the parable of the seed, how it fails to grow when it becomes entangled with thorns- a metaphor for those whose weak faith is broken in the face of hardship. The response of this Pastor to tragedy is disheartening and discouraging for anyone who has faced personal tradgedy yet sought to find solace in God. The best answer to Chase's statement should be obvious- Would not one's journey to find Jesus begin with the word of God in the bible? Is it required that one just leave his home and go on an expensive, nostalgic siteseeing trip to get away from the pain of life? Regrettably, this is not an option for most people. The erroneous assumption is that the bible would not be a good place to start to find Jesus or solace.
Chase openly declares on page 43: "I want to find a new church and a new way to follow Jesus". The books is subtle and cleverly written that it could turn any unsuspecting reader into a Roman Catholic- endearing almost anyone into believing in the legitimacy of the intercession of the Saints, the priesthood, the mystical visions/ appirations of Mary, the authority of the pope and transubstantiation. Key Catholic terms (on page 33), such as the Eucharist and the intercession of the Saints are repackaged and redefined in order to make the concepts more palatible to those with bible based faith. Rituals, Catholic traditions such as the mass, infant baptism, and mystisism are systematically justified without explanation of what these concepts really mean. Perhaps this book is an attempt at the ecumenical movement, in which theological and doctrinal differences are overlooked and undermined. The conflicts of Roman Catholic tradition with the bible are not addressed and are ignored. In direct opposition to gospel message of the bible, the reader is left with the confused feeling that all paths of worship are acceptable and that there is not one single truth. (Page 55).
The main character addresses his journal entries to Francis of Assisi- not to God! This seems to imply that this book is advocating the Roman Catholic concept of the intercession of Saints, such as Francis of Assisi. Yet, this is not biblical. The author presents a cynical view of having a personal relationship to Jesus, implying that it is inferior to the Catholic tradition of having a communial relationship with Jesus. In general, the pilgrimage, which basically is a spiritual term to descrive Chase's siteseeing trip to Italy, is something that many people do not have the financial means or time to do. The emphasis on sacred space, man made art/ icons, idol worship, architechture and the visual aspect of religion is in direct opposition to the bible's teachings of faith.
This thought provoking book is a challanging and very well written story. It is a very persuasive piece of propaganda and is probably the most effective and subtle outreach program of the Roman Catholic church yet- to gain converts from protestant, non denominational, evangelical and fundalmentalist churches. In fact as Paul warned, even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light, in order to fool even the elite. I am quite suprised that the Navigators would publish this work from their publishing company, Navpress. I would expect to see a piece of work like this from a Catholic publishing company. In the end, I would have to give this book a five star rating as it is extremely well written and a very persuasive piece of propaganda literature. Many unsuspecting readers are sure to be converted! As a blogger for Navpress I recieved a free copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review. The opinions expressed are my own.