Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

FactChecker: Misquoting Francis of Assisi
The Gospel Coalition ^ | July 10, 2012 | Glenn T. Stanton

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.


TOPICS: Apologetics; General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: bigotsrus

1 posted on 08/01/2014 7:21:11 AM PDT by Gamecock
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Hmmmmm....words are important but did that bird ACTUALLY sit on his hand. :O)


2 posted on 08/01/2014 7:28:26 AM PDT by HarleyD ("... letters are weighty, but his .. presence is weak, and his speech of no account.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Alex Murphy; metmom

Ping


3 posted on 08/01/2014 7:28:40 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD

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.


4 posted on 08/01/2014 7:30:20 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

I thought it was Augustine.


5 posted on 08/01/2014 7:32:14 AM PDT by Mercat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Well, I hope you looked a lot happier about the matter than St. Francis looks.


6 posted on 08/01/2014 7:32:34 AM PDT by HarleyD ("... letters are weighty, but his .. presence is weak, and his speech of no account.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
IB4FOAWMA
7 posted on 08/01/2014 7:36:32 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
If Mother Teresa of Calcutta was alive, she could preach the Gospel. Why? Her example of how she lived should be an example for all of us. Her life is an example of having great Charity for everyone

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.

8 posted on 08/01/2014 7:38:43 AM PDT by topher (Traditional values -- especially family values -- which have been proven over time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: topher

Without speaking the Gospel Theresa was just a nice lady.

Mormons do nice things. Are their beliefs right or wrong?


9 posted on 08/01/2014 7:41:40 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
I think this author is a little over-sensitive. I believe the quote (whomever the source) is a nice way of saying actions speak louder than words.

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."?

10 posted on 08/01/2014 8:01:32 AM PDT by trad_anglican
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: trad_anglican

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29


11 posted on 08/01/2014 8:19:43 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD

Amen.

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.


12 posted on 08/01/2014 8:27:43 AM PDT by left that other site (You shall know the Truth, and The Truth Shall Set You Free.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
What is '1 Corithinians 13'?

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')

13 posted on 08/01/2014 8:40:13 AM PDT by topher (Traditional values -- especially family values -- which have been proven over time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: topher

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.


14 posted on 08/01/2014 8:42:48 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: topher
In the Case of Mother Teresa, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH was how she 'preached' the Gospel. Being a member of that organization, one just has to attend Mass.

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.

15 posted on 08/01/2014 8:47:37 AM PDT by topher (Traditional values -- especially family values -- which have been proven over time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Fonts for for emphasize.


16 posted on 08/01/2014 8:48:05 AM PDT by topher (Traditional values -- especially family values -- which have been proven over time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: topher

Bigots R’US


17 posted on 08/01/2014 8:49:16 AM PDT by topher (Traditional values -- especially family values -- which have been proven over time.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: topher

***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.


18 posted on 08/01/2014 8:49:46 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: left that other site
Even as a Christian who believes in miracles, I find these stories embarrassing. Just my humble opinion.

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?

19 posted on 08/01/2014 8:51:55 AM PDT by HarleyD ("... letters are weighty, but his .. presence is weak, and his speech of no account.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: topher

It is annoying and unreadable.

Your attempt at emphasis failed.

Step away from the HTML.


20 posted on 08/01/2014 9:07:10 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD

Amen to that!


21 posted on 08/01/2014 9:15:50 AM PDT by left that other site (You shall know the Truth, and The Truth Shall Set You Free.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD
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?

Yes. Destroy all your other books. They are superfluous.

22 posted on 08/01/2014 9:28:15 AM PDT by Claud
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD; left that other site

Yes.

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.


23 posted on 08/01/2014 9:39:52 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

“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!


24 posted on 08/01/2014 9:44:24 AM PDT by avenir (I'm pessimistic about man, but I'm optimistic about GOD!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock; topher
No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church

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?

25 posted on 08/01/2014 9:51:55 AM PDT by Claud
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Indeed.


26 posted on 08/01/2014 10:06:32 AM PDT by left that other site (You shall know the Truth, and The Truth Shall Set You Free.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

“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.


27 posted on 08/01/2014 10:49:17 AM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998

Then phase one of my plan has been successful!


28 posted on 08/01/2014 10:52:32 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock; left that other site
The overuse of the word miracle is another issue. This day and time EVERYTHING has to be a miracle.

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.

Beliefs of clergy and the public about the virgin birth
29 posted on 08/01/2014 11:17:24 AM PDT by HarleyD ("... letters are weighty, but his .. presence is weak, and his speech of no account.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: topher

http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/the-myth-of-mot.php

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 God’s 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)


30 posted on 08/01/2014 12:00:00 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

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.

31 posted on 08/01/2014 12:03:10 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD

Those figures are tragic.

And that was 16 years ago. They are probably worse now.


32 posted on 08/01/2014 12:45:47 PM PDT by left that other site (You shall know the Truth, and The Truth Shall Set You Free.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: fishtank; topher

“Better” men still go to Hell. According to this clip she was still satisfied?


33 posted on 08/01/2014 12:59:30 PM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock; HarleyD
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.

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.

34 posted on 08/01/2014 1:30:32 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Alex Murphy

(”the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades”)

Never saw that before... pretty funny.


35 posted on 08/01/2014 3:21:04 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD

Is that a magpie?


36 posted on 08/01/2014 3:21:33 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD

37 posted on 08/01/2014 3:22:27 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: fishtank; Gamecock

What a sad commentary on an empty life.


38 posted on 08/01/2014 4:09:52 PM PDT by HarleyD ("... letters are weighty, but his .. presence is weak, and his speech of no account.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

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.


39 posted on 08/01/2014 4:35:41 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ( Brothers - And - Sisters - In - Christ.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

Wait. You like this??


40 posted on 08/01/2014 6:34:53 PM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: HarleyD; Gamecock

The “annoyed” look is a good way to appear busy. :)


41 posted on 08/02/2014 3:47:48 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
Yes.

Yes!

Uhhh... ya got a problem with that, buddy?

:o)

42 posted on 08/02/2014 4:36:03 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (When you see a fork in the road, take it. - Yogi Berra)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson