Remembering Francis Schaeffer at 100 (Part 13)

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THE FRANCIS SCHAEFFER CENTENNIAL – INVOCATION – PASTOR TONY FELICH

Uploaded by on Feb 3, 2012

Pastor Tony Felich of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Overland Park, KS gives the invocation to the mini conference event in honor of Francis Schaeffer’s 100th Birthday.

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This year Francis Schaeffer would have turned 100 on Jan 30, 2012. I remember like yesterday when I first was introduced to his books. I was even more amazed when I first saw his films. I was so influenced by them that I bought every one of his 30 something books and his two film series. Here is a  tribute that I got off the internet from Chuck Colson’s website www.breakpoint.org :

A Brief Evangelical History of Worldview
ruggedcross

By John Stonestreet|Published Date: June 14, 2010

Evangelicals and Worldview (2)

Two Calvinists

David Naugle traces the use of worldview among Christians to the teachings and writings of James Orr (1844-1913) and Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), and claims that each, having emerged from a Calvinist tradition, utilized the concept of worldview via its widely-accepted use in German philosophy. These two men are the “headwaters” from which emerged a stream of Christian worldview thinkers.

Orr’s influence can be seen in the writings of Gordon Clark (1902-1986) and Carl F.H. Henry (1913-2003), while Kuyper’s influence is seen primarily among reformed thinkers, most prominently Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) and Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984).[i] The influence of these men can be further seen in the writings of others, including Ronald Nash, Albert Wolters, Arthur Holmes, W. Gary Phillips and William E. Brown, Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh, Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey, James Sire, David Noebel, and David Naugle.[ii]

James Orr

When James Orr delivered the Kerr Lecture is 1891, he appropriated the idea of worldview and applied it to Christianity. Although Christianity had been seen holistically by many before him, he was the first to specifically utilize the English translation of weltanschauung which, as already noted, had become a significant concept in German philosophy. Living during the time some had called the “un-Christening of Europe,”[iii] Orr noted that there was a growing confidence in the coherence of the universe and the ability to achieve a synthesis of knowledge about the universe, and that Christianity would stand or fall according to its ability to answer challenges that were comprehensive. Christianity, also, had a “worldview”[iv] in that sense, and Orr asserted that it should be talked about as such.

Further, Orr saw it as the natural tendency of humans to theorize towards a comprehensive view of things, and practically to seek answers to ultimate questions of origin and destiny.[v] Worldviews, to Orr, were human nature. Additionally, Orr believed there were four advantages of thinking of Christianity in this way: (1) it would highlight the differences between Christianity and modernist views; (2) the debate over miracles would be reconfigured from particular miracles to the nature of reality; (3) it would alter the Christian’s approach to other worldviews and the truth that is found in those views; and (4) it would tie the Old and New Testaments together.[vi]

Orr’s influence can be easily traced. The title of Clark’s book A Christian View of Men and Things suggests that he was influenced by Orr’s The Christian View of God and the World, and was even attempting to take Orr’s work further. To Clark, only the Christian worldview could adequately explain the way the world is, offer legitimate meaning and hope, and support the existence of truth that is attainable.[vii] Through Clark’s influence, the language of worldview gained further momentum. For example, Ron Nash, a student and admirer of Clark, utilizes the language of worldview in many of his books and has influenced other students to think along those lines as well.[viii]

More prominent in Orr’s legacy is Carl F. H. Henry, who pointed to the influence of Orr as key to his worldview approach. This is evident in Henry’s masterful God, Revelation and Authority.[ix] Although it would be hard to fully measure the influence of Henry on twentieth century evangelicalism, it can certainly be seen in David Noebel’s contribution to worldview thinking, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Worldviews.[x]

Abraham Kuyper

Kuyper, in Lectures on Calvinism (the published form of his 1898 Stone Lectures at Princeton University) stated, “Two life systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat. This is the struggle in Europe, this is the struggle in America …”[xi] To Kuyper, these two systems were modernism and Christianity, and if modernism were a comprehensive system, then Christianity ought to be conceived of as comprehensive as well. If non-Christian worldviews were marked out across the spectrum of society, so too should Christianity be worked out and applied to every area. When fully applied and compared, Christianity would naturally prove to be the “more brilliant” and “the more capable of taking us to a higher level as a civilization.”[xii]

This approach, Kuyper thought, would be more effective than traditional apologetics, which, “has not advanced us one single step.”[xiii] For Kuyper, the goal was the transformation of all of culture, at every level, to recognize God’s authority. Key to Kuyper’s approach, and legacy, are the following themes: (1) a cosmic understanding of salvation, that grace restore nature as well as souls; (2) the sovereignty of God over all of life and order; (3) the cultural mandate as prior to, and unlocking the meaning of, the great commission; and (4) a spiritual antithesis characterizes the relationships of believers and unbelievers.[xiv]

Kuyper exerted significant influence on future worldview thinkers through the founding of the Free University of Amsterdam, as well as through his considerable success in Dutch politics. This influence continued through the work of Dooyeweerd, who emerged as Kuyper’s heir at Free University and has been called “the most creative and influential philosopher among neo-Calvinists in the 20th century.”[xv]

Dooyeweerd followed up on Kuyper’s concept of worldview early in his career, altered it later in his career, and became a key individual in the academic discussion of worldview. His influence can be especially seen through Calvin College and the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Canada.[xvi] Writers on Christian worldview that have followed in the Kuyperian tradition include Albert Wolters, Arthur Holmes, Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh, Charles Colson, and Nancy Pearcey.

Francis Schaeffer

Still, the one who may have influenced Protestant Evangelicalism more than any other towards worldview thinking is Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer’s most significant contribution was bringing the concept of Christian worldview out of the academy to popular Christian thought. Through books like How Should We Then Live[xvii], videos, and his L’Abri Study Center, Schaeffer made worldview thinking accessible and applicable to non-academics, demonstrated the broad relevance of Christianity to culture, paved the way for para-church organizations committed to Christian worldview thinking, and influenced the worldview writings of individuals such as Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey. Naugle traces Schaeffer’s thought back to Kuyper, pointing to Schaeffer’s wide application of Christianity to culture. However, Schaeffer’s varied approach to worldview thinking suggests that his use of the concept went beyond the Kuyperian tradition.

Orr vs. Kuyper

While Orr and Kuyper shared a belief in a common foe (modernism), and though it is believed that Kuyper relied heavily on Orr’s earlier lectures[xviii], their overall approach to worldview differed. Though Orr was clearly a Calvinist, he did not emphasize it as much as Kuyper did, who attempted to understand everything first and foremost in light of the absolute sovereignty of God. Kuyper’s famous line from a speech delivered at the opening of the Free University in Amsterdam, which he founded, reflects his starting point of thinking about Christianity as a worldview, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”[xix]

So, while Orr focused on Christianity as a total belief system in contrast with other systems, Kuyper focused on Christianity applied (more specifically Calvinism) compared with modernism applied. For Kuyper, worldview was a notion that offered an apologetic primarily not by comparison with other worldviews, but by allowing it to provide cultural leadership in a wide variety of areas;[xx] and he is well-known for his attempts to actually apply a Christian worldview to diverse areas of culture in The Netherlands through his various roles as scholar, journalist, writer, pastor, and politician. The heritage of the two diverging approaches of Orr and Kuyper can be seen in the different approaches to worldview study today.

Questions for Study or Discussion

  • What do Orr’s and Kuyper’s understanding of worldview have in common? Where do they differ?
  • Why is it essential to keep both of these understandings of worldview in mind as we work to build our on Christian worldview?
  • What are some aspects of contemporary Christian belief that might frustrate our attempt to construct a comprehensive Christian worldview?
  • In what areas of contemporary culture do you think a Christian worldview is most urgently needed?
  • Why does Francis Schaeffer matter so much in the discussion of Christian worldview?

[i]Naugle, Worldview, 5, 6-15, and 16-32. See also, Peter S. Heslam, Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism, 88-95.

[ii]Ronald Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992); Albert Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (Grand Rapids,Mich.:

Eerdman’s, 1985); Arthur Holmes, Contours of a Worldview (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman’s, 1983); Brown and Phillips, Making Sense of Your World; Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh, The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1984); Colson and Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live?; Pearcey, Total Truth; James Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 4th ed. (Downers Grove,

Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004); David Noebel, Understanding the Times: The Religious Worldviews of Our Day and the Search for Truth (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 1991); David Naugle, Worldview. Many more could be added here, but these are among the more important who reflect a direct influence from Orr, Kuyper, Clark, Henry, Dooeyweerd, and Schaeffer.

[iii]See Naugle, Worldview, 6.

[iv]Orr, A Christian View, 8-9.

[v]Ibid, 6-7.

[vi]See Naugle, Worldview, 11-12.

[vii]Gordon H. Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, 218.

[viii]Most significant are Worldviews in Conflict and Faith and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1968). Nash’s influence can be seen in Phillips and Brown, Making Sense of Your World.

[ix]See Naugle, Worldview, 15.

[x]For example, Noebel, Understanding the Times, 12, 25, 89-90, 166-167.

[xi]Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, 11.

[xii]Ibid, 41.

[xiii]Ibid, 11. Cf. Naugle, Worldview, 18-19.

[xiv]Naugle, Worldview, 22-23.

[xv]Naugle, Worldview, 25. See also, Nash, Dooyeweerd and the Amsterdam Philosophy (Grand Rapids,Mich.:

Zondervan, 1962).

[xvi]See Naugle, 25-29; Also, Paul Marshall, Sander Griffioen, Richard J. Mouw, eds. Stained Glass: Worldviews and  Social Science (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1989) and James Sire, Naming the Elephant (Downers Grove,Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004).

[xvii]Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton,Ill.: Crossway, 1983).

[xviii]Heslam, Creating a Christian Worldview, 92-95. Heslam cites the following point made by Kuyper that were initially made by Orr: (1) Christianity and modernism each derived from separate, antithetical “first principles;”

(2) the only Christian defense against modernism is the development of a comprehensive, coherent worldview;

(3) the concept of worldview had bearing on all theoretical thought, not just religion; (4) all true religions possess a worldview of their own; and (5) the purpose of the lecture series itself was to show that Christianity had a definite view on things.

[xix]Kuper, “Sphere Sovereignty.” Quoted in Naugle, Worldview, 16.

[xx]Wolters, “On the Idea of Worldview and Its Relationship to Philosophy” in Stained Glass, 20.

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Andy Rooney was an atheist

How Now Shall We LiveClick here to purchase Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey’s How Now Shall We Live?, dedicated to Francis Schaeffer.


Click here for a list of Francis Schaeffer’s greatest works, from the Colson Center store!
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Comments

  • Jeremy Gradney  On February 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Happy 100th Francis!

    Huge fan of his work. No little people and no little places!

    Thanks for keeping his thoughts in the public eye.

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