Skip to comments.FactChecker: Misquoting Francis of Assisi
Posted on 08/01/2014 7:21:11 AM PDT by Gamecock
Christians use lots of quotes. Pastors use them in their sermons constantly. Writers illustrate their points with them. Nothing wrong with that. They are quite helpful and encouraging in making a point.
Save when the quote has no basis in fact.
We as evangelicals who claim we are committed to truth are certainly good at spreading falsehood, even if unintentionally. We can do better.
One very clever and popular quote we often knock around among ourselves is . . .
Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.
It is always attributed to St. Francis of Assisi—founder of the Franciscan Order—and is intended to say that proclaiming the Gospel by example is more virtuous than actually proclaiming with voice. It is a quote that has often rankled me because it seems to create a useless dichotomy between speech and action. Besides, the spirit behind it can be a little arrogant, intimating that those who "practice the Gospel" are more faithful to the faith than those who preach it.
But here's the fact: Our good Francis never said such a thing. None of his disciples, early or later biographers have these words coming from his mouth. It doesn't show up in any of his writings. Not even close really. The closest comes from his Rule of 1221, Chapter XII on how the Franciscans should practice their preaching:
No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister … All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.
Essentially, make sure your deeds match your words. While there's a nice and good sentiment in the statement—be sure you live out the grace and truth of the Gospel—the notion as it is typically presented is neither practical, nor faithful to the Gospel of Christ. It does not align with St. Francis' own practice.
His first biographer, Thomas of Celeno, writing just three years after Francis' death, quotes him instructing his co-workers in the Gospel thusly,
The preacher must first draw from secret prayers what he will later pour out in holy sermons; he must first grow hot within before he speaks words that are in themselves cold.
Mark Galli, senior managing editor at Christianity Today, wrote a wonderful little book on Francis as well as a clarifying brief article on the myth of this quote. He explains that Francis was quite a preacher, actually more along the lines of Jonathan Edwards or Billy Sunday than most of those who misquote him would like to think. Galli quotes Thomas' biography,
His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement.
Our man clearly spent a great deal of time using his words when he preached, "sometimes preaching in up to five villages a day, often outdoors. In the country, Francis often spoke from a bale of straw or a granary doorway. In town, he would climb on a box or up steps in a public building. He preached to . . . any who gathered to hear the strange but fiery little preacher from Assisi." He was sometimes so animated and passionate in his delivery that "his feet moved as if he were dancing."
Duane Liftin, president emeritus of Wheaton College, recently addressed the trouble with this preach/practice dichotomy in an important article. Of preaching the Gospel in deed, he explains,
It's simply impossible to preach the Gospel without words. The Gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching the Gospel is inherently verbal behavior.
And the "deed" proclamation of the Gospel is not biblical either. Paul asks the Church at Rome (Romans 10:14):
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
So next time you hear one of your brothers or sisters in Christ use this quote to encourage or challenge you in your labors for our faith, gently guide them from the land of misinformation and make believe into truth.
Hmmmmm....words are important but did that bird ACTUALLY sit on his hand. :O)
At the local zoo I can pay two dollars for a cup of nectar and use it to entice lorikeets to sit on my hand.
I thought it was Augustine.
Well, I hope you looked a lot happier about the matter than St. Francis looks.
Another example would Gladys Aylworth, whose biography by Alan Burgess (ISBN: 9780330101967): The Small Woman is something worth reading by those who want to preach the Gospel.
A minor incident in this book (The Small Woman) is that she meets a couple from Holland on her trip to China via the Orient Express.
The couple promised to pray for her. She was a petit woman making the trip to China by herself. It was an example of her great faith.
But people in England (people in a Missionary Society, other people, the Travel Bureau) all probably had her in her prayers.
The point of that is that there seemed to extra-ordinary intervention in her life. She was often spared when confronted with extremely dangerous situations.
One such example was that the Orient Express had to stop because of a war. She eventually decided to walk to the nearest (by herself) town at night.
When she arrived in the town, she commented about why they dogs run free in the area.
This was a vicious pack of wolves.
The Soviet Union, at that time, was not a place for a single woman to be...
For Gladys Aylward, she lived a life of Great Faith.
Without speaking the Gospel Theresa was just a nice lady.
Mormons do nice things. Are their beliefs right or wrong?
As to whether such emphasis is biblical, didn't someone else once say Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."?
Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. John 6:29
I also have issue with “inspirational” little stories that I always get in my inbox, 99.9% of which are totally fabricated. The other 1% are usually anecdotal but have no basis in fact.
I call these foolish stories “Evangelegends”. They are easily proven false, and sometimes even go against Scripture.
No single denomination has a monopoly on these stories, but I find it especially unpleasant when they come from Bible-Believing Christians who should know better.
Even as a Christian who believes in miracles, I find these stories embarrassing.
Just my humble opinion.
What is the meaning of that passage?
Though Mother Teresa of Calcutta won the Nobel Peace Prize, she symbolized Charity
One of her most famous sayings is: Do small things with great love [charity]?
What did Jesus say the two greatest commandments were:
Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul.
Love your neighbor as yourself
You either do not understand the Gospel, or you do not understand the life of Mother Teresa
She lived a life of Great Love
It seems you have a huge PLANK in front of your eyes WHEN YOU CLAIM THAT MOTHER TERESA's life was blocked by a tiny splinter
Maybe in you case, it is a huge wall that prevents you from seeing a person who lived a life charity, and recruited 250,000 missionaries of love (Her organization is called the 'Missionaries of Charity')
I won’t even try to read that as the fonts and colors are obnoxious to the eye.
Edit it and I will reply.
Don’t edit it and I will assume it isn’t worth trying to read.
In attending Mass (daily), a person will basically hear the entire Bible in three years.
The focus (verbal) of the Mass is the Gospel
Anyone who knew Mother Teresa is that she spent time in prayer and went to Mass.
Such people would try to understand 'why' she did this, and if they went to Mass, they would hear the Gospel.
Fonts for for emphasize.
***Such people would try to understand ‘why’ she did this, and if they went to Mass, they would hear the Gospel.***
Not sure about the rest of your post, as it is obnoxious to the eye, but like I said, Mormons can make the same claim. That is why we are sent out. Not waiting for others to come.
I think you're right on. If we truly felt the word of God had the power it does, one has to wonder why do we recite other "inspirational" stories? Wouldn't truly inspirational stories reside in scripture?
It is annoying and unreadable.
Your attempt at emphasis failed.
Step away from the HTML.
Amen to that!
Yes. Destroy all your other books. They are superfluous.
The overuse of the word miracle is another issue.
This day and time EVERYTHING has to be a miracle. The birth of a child for instance. Billions of babies have been born. Birth is certainly wondrous and joyful, but it is not out of the ordinary.
“Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. John 6:29”
Music to this man’s ears!
Hmmm..... Since we're so eager to plunge into the correct historical context of St. Francis, let's just meditate on that little bit of the rule, there, shall we?
“At the local zoo I can pay two dollars for a cup of nectar and use it to entice lorikeets to sit on my hand.”
At FreeRepublic you can post threads for free and get people who should be spending their time more wisely (me included) to show up.
Then phase one of my plan has been successful!
Yes, isn't that the truth. Everything today has to be a miracle...except those miracles that are recorded in scripture which are questioned or thought to be exaggerations.
* American Lutherans 19%
* American Baptists 34%
* Episcopalians 44%
* Presbyterians 49%
* Methodists 60%
The pollsters reported that: "Despite the Roman Catholic Churchs historical emphasis on the theological importance of Mary, Catholics in the poll were somewhat less likely than Protestants to believe in the virgin birth. Theologians attributed this to the doctrine in many Protestant churches that the Bible must be accepted as literal truth."
While she worked with the poor, Mother Teresa was adamant that any type of evangelism was unnecessary. In her book, Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers, she says:
We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of Gods presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men simply better we will be satisfied. It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation. (Pages 81-82)
She might have known some teaching at some point, but she might not have ever been born again.
She certainly did not teach Jesus the Truth.
Those figures are tragic.
And that was 16 years ago. They are probably worse now.
“Better” men still go to Hell. According to this clip she was still satisfied?
They say that you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. They don't say why anyone would want to attract more flies.
(”the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades”)
Never saw that before... pretty funny.
Is that a magpie?
What a sad commentary on an empty life.
Thanks for posting this, Gamecock. A lot of sentimental and superficial tinsel has been tossed over St. Francis, and it’s sobering and helpful to get a more solid, Christ-centered view of this solid, Christ-centered saint.
Wait. You like this??
The “annoyed” look is a good way to appear busy. :)
Uhhh... ya got a problem with that, buddy?