Variously called the "Guru of the Fundamentalists," "Missionary to the Intellectuals," and "Godfather of Evangelicalism," Francis A. Schaeffer was undoubtedly one of the most influential thinkers, theologians, authors, and apologists of the past generation. His books, tapes, and films gave new credibility to Evangelicals interested in the arts, culture, politics, and society.
He was born 99 years ago on this day in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation from Hampden-Sydney College he studied at Westminster Theological Seminary under Cornelius Van Til and J. Gresham Machen and at Faith Theological Seminary under Allan MacRae.
After serving for a short time in Presbyterian congregations in the United States, he moved to Switzerland in 1948 to begin a unique missionary outreach—to whoever God would send to his door. Over the years literally thousands of students, skeptics, and searchers found their way to the door of the small mountain chalet that he shared with his wife and four children. Calling his work L'Abri, the French word for “shelter,” he set up a study center and simply attempted to provide “honest answers to honest questions.”
Asserting the Lordship of Christ over the totality of life, he wrote a series of intellectually stimulating books documenting the drift of Western art, music, ideas, and law from their Christian moorings. Though he had a wide following among academically minded Evangelicals beginning in the mid-sixties, it was not until the release of his book and film series How Should We Then Live? that he gained national and international notoriety. He followed that with another book and film series, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? which brought new prominence to the struggle against abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. But it was his book, A Christian Manifesto, that catalyzed the burgeoning Evangelical consensus in the culture.
Despite a difficult and protracted battle against cancer, over the last five years of his life, he gave the lion's share of his time, energies, and efforts to promoting the authority of Christ over every aspect of life and society. In both word and deed, Schaeffer confirmed the Gospel's message of light and life.