14 things you may not know about Francis Schaeffer

14 things you may not know about Francis Schaeffer

The Scientific Age

Uploaded by  on Oct 3, 2011

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Episode VII – The Age of Non Reason

 

Dr. Schaeffer’s sweeping epic on the rise and decline of Western thought and Culture

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I love the works of Francis Schaeffer and I have been on the internet reading several blogs that talk about Schaeffer’s work and the work below  by Colin Duriez was really helpful. Schaeffer’s film series “How should we then live?  Wikipedia notes, “According to Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live traces Western history from Ancient Rome until the time of writing (1976) along three lines: the philosophic, scientific, and religious.[3] He also makes extensive references to art and architecture as a means of showing how these movements reflected changing patterns of thought through time. Schaeffer’s central premise is: when we base society on the Bible, on the infinite-personal God who is there and has spoken,[4] this provides an absolute by which we can conduct our lives and by which we can judge society.  Here are some posts I have done on this series: Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age”  episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” .

In the film series “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?” the arguments are presented  against abortion (Episode 1),  infanticide (Episode 2),   euthanasia (Episode 3), and then there is a discussion of the Christian versus Humanist worldview concerning the issue of “the basis for human dignity” in Episode 4 and then in the last episode a close look at the truth claims of the Bible.

Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer – An Authentic Life

Colin Duriez (2008), Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham 240 pages; £12.99.  ISBN: 978-1-84474-310-0

This book is surprisingly (because the author was once a commissioning editor for IVP) not well written.  There are too many repetitions, wittering interviews and cul-de-sac statements – indeed, it reminded me of Francis Schaeffer’s own writing!  Yet, despite these shortcomings, the book is a fascinating account of the life and times of the Rev Dr Francis August Schaeffer IV (born 30 January 1912, died 15 May 1984), first and foremost a Gospel minister, but also the author of twenty-plus books, a film maker and famously, the founder of L’Abri in Switzerland.

I have read about ten of Schaeffer’s books (contrary to most reviewers, I think his Genesis in Space and Time is his best), seen (and presented to audiences) both of his film series and heard him speak in England and the USA.  While I would not consider myself a Schaefferite – for instance, I’ve visited, but never studied at any of the various L’Abri locations – he has influenced my thinking more than perhaps any other modern man.  His daring analyses of art, politics, music and philosophy; his dual insistence upon the need of Christ as Saviour plus the Lordship of Christ in the whole of life; his unforgettable phrases (‘true truth’, ‘existential methodology’, ‘personal peace and affluence’, among many others); his confident apologetic rooted in the Bible as well as the imminent culture, gave me a deep and enduring assurance of the truth of orthodox, evangelical Christianity during my student days and ever since.

The man with the hangdog expression, Swiss breeches and the high-pitched voice was always an easy target for his detractors.  For me, these aspects of (minor) personal unattractiveness merely served to heighten the significance of his message.  Here was no slick operator with well-honed orations.  Here was a Bible-believing man who had thought long and hard and who had laboured, often in adverse circumstances, for the benefit of his less gifted/lazier readers/hearers.  He gave a generation or two the wherewithal to stand foursquare for biblical truth and not be ashamed of their Saviour.  Where are such men today?

Duriez’s book is brimful of Schaefferite detail as well as the broad brushstrokes of his life story, which was both considerably heroic and boldly pioneering.  But you can read all of that for yourself.  Here are fourteen fascinating facets of Francis Schaeffer’s life, in approximate chronological order, which I, and maybe you, knew nothing about:

1]  After reading the Bible as a teenager, he thought he was alone in discovering its answers to his deepest nagging questions.  But on 19 August 1930, he ‘stumbled’ upon a tent meeting and realised that the preacher also knew those same answers.  He wrote in his diary that night, ‘… have decided to give my whole life to Christ unconditionally.’

2]  He suffered from severe dyslexia – so the fashion designer became Mary Quaint and the black comedy film was known as Dr Strangeglove.

3]  He had struggled through most of his schooldays and in 1931 he started pre-ministerial studies at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.  Early on the morning of his departure from the family home, his father confronted him at the front door, ‘I don’t want a son who is a minister, and – I don’t want you to go.’  ‘Pop, give me a few moments to go down in the cellar and pray’, was his reply.  He emerged to his silently-waiting father, ‘Dad, I’ve got to go.’  And he did.  Years later, Schaeffer senior came to share his son’s faith.

4]  In his early years as a Christian he had been increasingly separatist, both denominationally and educationally – he left the Presbyterian Church of America for the Bible Presbyterian Church, and then Westminster Theological Seminary for Faith Theological Seminary.

5]  He met Edith Seville (whom he married in 1935) during his first summer vacation – they were mutually intrigued and she soon encouraged him to read Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen.  After graduating in June 1935, he entered the ‘new’ Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, with its staff from the ‘dead’ Princeton Seminary, including Machen, Van Til, Kuiper, Stonehouse and Woolley.

6]  As a married man, he never owned a car.

7]  He had three pastorates in the USA – Grove City, Pennsylvania (three years long), Chester, on the Delaware River (less than two years) and St Louis (five years).  During those years, he and Edith developed Summer Bible Schools and a so-called Miracle Book Club in their home – these were the forerunners of their Children for Christ work, which eventually took them to Europe.

8]  He was five feet and six inches tall.

9]  He initially visited Europe on a three-month fact-finding tour in 1947 for two principal reasons.  First, to expand the evangelistic Children for Christ work and second, because he was deeply concerned about European theological liberalism – neo-orthodoxy – which was infecting America.  The rigours of the tour almost broke his health.  The following year, 1948, the Schaeffers (including their daughters, Priscilla, Susan and Deborah), moved to Holland and then to Switzerland.

10]  His characteristic L’Abri-style Q & A sessions started with visiting students from nearby Swiss finishing schools and later with one of his daughter’s University of Lausanne friends.

11]  In 1955, Schaeffer resigned from the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and thus became a ‘freelance evangelist’.  The same year the family moved into a new home, Chalet les Mélèzes, which they renamed as L’Abri, at Huémoz, over 3000 feet above sea level.

12]  He corresponded and eventually met, argued and still disagreed with Karl Barth at the latter’s home.

13]  He never planned to produce any of his books, tapes or films.

14]  When he got away from the pressure of work, he loved to relax at an espresso bar, walk a city’s streets in the early hours, eat at a little restaurant and enjoy the live music.

And the rest is, by and large, well-known history punctuated by several key events, such as the crisis of his ‘hayloft experience’ during the early 1950s, which left an indelible God-given mark on the rest of his life; the expansion of L’Abri into the L’Abri Fellowship International, which today exists in ten countries. and finally, the cancer, which was first detected in 1978 and which finally killed him six years later.  During those last years he fought death as the last enemy and he continued to write extensively, including the revision of his five-volume Complete Works, he also gave seminars, and he again turned to the great theme of the authority and inerrancy of the Bible with his last book, written with dying energy, The Great Evangelical Disaster.  For him, this issue was not merely academic or even theological, but rather it was centred on obeying the Book.  Francis Schaeffer was a man who sought to live that obedient life.  It is what Duriez calls in his book’s subtitle, An Authentic Life.

Related posts:

Francis Schaeffer’s wife Edith passes away on Easter weekend 2013 Part 7 (includes pro-life editorial cartoon)

The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story Pt.1 – Today’s Christian Videos The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story – Part 3 of 3 Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ________________ Picture of Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith from the […]

The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer Part 1

  THE MARK OF A CHRISTIAN – CLASS 1 – Introduction Published on Mar 7, 2012 This is the introductory class on “The Mark Of A Christian” by Francis Schaeffer. The class was originally taught at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Overland Park, KS by Dan Guinn from FrancisSchaefferStudies.org as part of the adult Sunday School hour […]

Francis Schaeffer’s wife Edith passes away on Easter weekend 2013 Part 6 (includes pro-life editorial cartoon and tribute from son-in-law Ranald Macaulay)

The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story Pt.1 – Today’s Christian Videos The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story – Part 3 of 3 Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ________________ Picture of Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith from the […]

Francis Schaeffer’s wife Edith passes away on Easter weekend 2013 Part 5 (includes pro-life editorial cartoon)

The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story Pt.1 – Today’s Christian Videos The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story – Part 3 of 3 Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ________________ Picture of Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith from the […]

Francis Schaeffer’s wife Edith passes away on Easter weekend 2013 Part 4 (includes pro-life editorial cartoon)

The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story Pt.1 – Today’s Christian Videos The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story – Part 3 of 3 Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ________________ Picture of Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith from the […]

Francis Schaeffer’s wife Edith passes away on Easter weekend 2013 Part 3 (includes pro-life editorial cartoon)

The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story Pt.1 – Today’s Christian Videos The Francis and Edith Schaeffer Story – Part 3 of 3 Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ________________ Picture of Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith from the […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning humanist dominated public schools in USA even though country was founded on a Christian base

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” (Episode 2) SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This book  really helped develop my political views concerning […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning where the Bible-believing Christians been the last few decades

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This book  really helped develop my political views […]

Taking on Ark Times Bloggers on various issues Part E “Moral absolutes and abortion” Francis Schaeffer Quotes part 5(includes the film SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS) (editorial cartoon)

I have gone back and forth and back and forth with many liberals on the Arkansas Times Blog on many issues such as abortion, human rights, welfare, poverty, gun control  and issues dealing with popular culture. Here is another exchange I had with them a while back. My username at the Ark Times Blog is Saline […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning religious liberals and humanists

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 5) TRUTH AND HISTORY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This book  really helped develop my political views concerning abortion, […]

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