Friday, May 22, 2009

Mark Galli, St. Francis and the Gospel

St. Francis of Assisi is often attributed with the words, "Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words." Mark Galli, senior managing editor for Christianity Today magazine and author of a biography on St. Francis, says Francis never uttered the popular slogan and his life contradicted the sentiment. In an online article Galli notes that "no biography written within the first 200 years of his death contains the saying. It's not likely that a pithy quote like this would have been missed by his earliest disciples." Furthermore, Francis was well known as a preacher and sometimes a very fiery one. "'Hell, fire, brimstone' would not be an inaccurate description of his style." Galli thinks we sentimentalize Francis "because we live in a sentimental age." The popular slogan has more in common with "a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning." He continues, "But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns. . . .the Good News can no more be communicated by deeds than can the nightly news." Galli concludes with a more appropriate saying, "Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always."

1 comment:

Paul said...

And may our actions comport with our words. After all, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless."