Monday, January 30

Francis Schaeffer

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. Born on this day in 1912, his books, tapes, and films gave new credibility to Evangelicals interested in the arts, culture, politics, and society.

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.


jeremy said...

Thank you for honoring Dr. Schaeffer, whose life has reached through and under and around and into the lives of those who have saved my own. Happy Birth Day, indeed.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Dr. Grant,
Thank you for acknowledging the wonderful role Francis Schaeffer had in the body of Christ. He, along with my father, probably shaped my thinking more than any man living when I was growing up. He brought my love for philosophy and theology into a much sharper focus.

A question: Do you believe that our generation is reaching a point of 'philosophical inevitability' regarding the clash of modern paganism/pragmatism and Christianity?


gileskirk said...

Lawrence: I do think we are reaching a wall of misapprehension and miscommunication as much as we are reaching a point of philosophical inevitability. By that I mean that both Christians and Secularists are so inept at thinking that we're facing more of a "war among the pygmies" than we are a "clash of titans."

Lawrence Underwood said...

That is an insightful way to put it. Given that we might have hope on our side if we can inspire others toward diligent thought and cogent action.