I began reading Francis A. Schaeffer while I was in college in 1972.
In the next few years after graduating and as a young teacher I eventually read all of his books—The God Who Is There, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Escape from Reason, How Shall We Then Live?, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, A Christian Manifesto, including finally his last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, which came out in 1984.
I remember reading how he and the family rushed to finish this book, working in his hospital room at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, trying to get it ready for publication before what he knew was his imminent death from cancer. Thankfully, they made it. Dr. Schaeffer died May 15, 1984.
By the way, Schaeffer never published a book until he was 56 years old. Then in the next 16 years he published twenty-two books plus films that influenced the entire Christian community worldwide. He had learned the issues. He had learned how to address them in language people could understand. He was a philosopher/theologian and a master communicator.
Schaeffer always used the term “historic orthodox Christianity” to identify his approach and doctrinal niche within Christendom, until that last book. Here he openly worried about what was happening and would happen to Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, particularly if they succumbed to what he believed the rest of culture had embraced, in his phrase, “personal peace and affluence.” Schaeffer pointed out that people would do about anything, give up almost any liberty and responsibility, even change their worldview if they could just be guaranteed “personal peace and affluence.” It was and is the blessing and pitfall of Western Civilization.
No Christian author has influenced my thinking more than Francis A. Schaeffer. I appreciated not only his ability to convey a Christian worldview but also the positive terms in which he did it. Unlike Schaeffer's contemporaries, notable Christian culture writers Rousas J. Rushdoony or Gary North, Schaeffer rarely used harsh terms to describe those with whom he disagreed. Would that we could have more of that again today.
But beyond this, Schaeffer helped me to form my Christian worldview, to plumb the depths of my questions, to tackle anything question, really—another thing I appreciated about him: he had utter confidence in his Christian faith, so much so he was not afraid of any subject or issue. He was not afraid somehow, someway he’d find out his faith was a sham. No, he’d worked that out long before and talked about it in True Spirituality. Having grown up in a fine Christian home, yet one where some things weren’t talked about, and having struggled with doubt of my own, I could relate.
In this article, the author reveals Schaeffer is clearly still prescient and relevant. I can find encouragement and edification yet today when I re-read his work.
I thank Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, who I was privileged to hear in person just one time not long before he passed, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.
May I be as faithful to my Christian faith and as careful in my worldview formation and applications in my day as Dr. Schaeffer was in his day.
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