Truth Tuesday: L’Abri’s Fruit by Steve West

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode 8 – The Age of Fragmentation

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Francis Schaeffer- How Should We Then Live? -8- The Age of Fragmentation

Joseph Rozak·

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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 Steve West 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

L’Abri’s Fruit

CIMG0434_edited On a credenza behind Jerram Barrs’ desk there is a striking photograph of his father, standing, unsmiling, in an almost aristocratic pose.  We’re here in St. Louis, at the Francis Schaeffer Institute (FSI) on the campus of Covenant Seminary, to interview Barrs, a Resident Scholar of FSI and as Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture for the seminary.  It is a complete privilege to be with this man and hear his stories of L’Abri.  He is articulate, warm, and not lacking in a sense of humor.  (I have not met anyone yet who was involved with L’Abri who lacked a sense of humor!).  But despite all the stories, all the good information he shares with us about L’Abri, my eyes are continually drawn to the photograph.  Finally, we ask him about it

Jerram explains that his father, who lived south of London, in Hampshire, was a gardener.  He was also a life-long Communist.  Jerram was reared in a loving home, taught Bible stories, taken to church, and prayed with and for — but his parents did not believe.  After becoming a Christian himself, attending seminary (at Covenant), and working for years with the English L’Abri (which was close to his father’s home), he continued to share with his parents what God was doing in his life.  Though they did not believe, they encouraged him, glad to know that he had found something he was happy in.  At some point, his father contracted cancer and was given six months to live.  During this time Dr. Schaeffer was visiting L’Abri England.  He asked Jerram if his father might like a visit.  Jerram called his father to ask, and his father said that he would like Dr. Schaeffer to visit.  While Jerram took a walk with his mother, Schaeffer visited and he led Jerram’s father to Christ.  Schaeffer said all the letters Jerram had written over the years had really been what led his father to faith, that he was only the one to ask the question.  His father’s question: “How can God love a worm.”  (He was so aware of his sin.)  Schaeffer’s reply:  “How could he not love a worm?  He is God.”  It is a wonderful story.  One can only imagine how many more stories like this come from God’s work through L’Abri.

CIMG0432_edited Another day in St. Louis we spent an entire day with Sylvester and Janet Jacobs.  Janet is English; Sylvester, American.  Janet is white; Sylvester, black.  Both spent a year at L’Abri Switzerland in the late 1960s.  The impact of the Schaeffers and others at L’Abri is evident in the lives of this couple.  Sylvester went to L’Abri shortly after dropping out of Moody Bible College in the mid-1960s.  Already having suffered a great deal under the scourge of racism where he grew up in Boynton, Oklahoma, he was discouraged by what he found at Moody.  Along with a number of public pledges you had to make if you attended Moody (no dancing, smoking, etc.), he was required to sign a secret pledge that had to do with interaction with white students.  He was not supposed to speak to white women on campus, for example, and yet in evangelistic work they did in the black neighborhoods of South Chicago he was required to mentor these same women that, when they arrived back on campus, he could not interact with.  In trying to make sense of things — in trying to determine if God was real — he ended up at L’Abri, where, as he said, he was treated as a human being, as one with dignity, where he came to feel at home in his skin.

Sylvester went on to become a photographer in London and, then, to work with the worst of the worst kids in a school with Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and kids speaking 52 languages.  He saw fruit from that work, a result he says came out of the way he was treated at L’Abri — with love, with dignity, as a human being made in the image of God.

One of the treats for us was seeing a few of the photographs Sylvester took of L’Abri and the Schaeffers in the 1960s.  I was aware of his work because a long out of print book of this photography, Portrait of a Shelters, was published by InterVarsity Press in the early Seventies.  I suspected that he had other photography that did not make it into the book.  I was right.  I’m hopeful that a number of Sylvester’s photos — both previously published and still unpublished — might be utilized in our work.

Finally, we were able to spend time at the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) Historical Center in the basement of the Buswell LIbrary at Covenant Seminary.  Wayne Spearman, the Chief Archivist here, was extremely helpful to us, pulling out carefully cataloged collections of Schaeffer’s letters (relating to the Bible Presbyterian Church, the churches in pastored, and his relationship his mission board.  There were also reel-to-reel tapes of early L’Abri discussions which we sifted through and make notes on so that we can latter digitize some of them.  Most people wouldn’t be excited by this, but I found myself a bit envious of Wayne and his treasure trove of history.  Interesting find: A letter from neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth to Schaeffer, someone with whom Schaeffer had obviously had an ongoing dialog, where, in poor English, Barth basically Schaeffer to leave an old man alone!  Were his questions too challenging?  Then there are personal notes like one “P.S. Tell Mr. Bateman I am still thinking about those good chicken dumplings.”  Those are Minutes of Presbytery meetings, reports from Europe, copies of Biblical Missions with articles about their work in Europe, and Children for Christ materials.  Edith’s creativity is evident.  There is a “Door of Salvation” oversize booklet, a creative presentation of what being a Christian is not followed by what it is.  There are even the text of Children for Christ dramatic sketches (like readers’ theater) written by Edith.  Overall, these materials indicate a deep concern about preserving the purity of the church over and against modernity and liberalism in the church.

We left St. Louis greatly enriched.  Good interviews,  Good research.  But most of all we are blessed the more and more we discover of the Schaeffers’ lives and the testimonies of those who they had an impact on.  Kevin and I needed a lift to sustain us in this project, and we got it.  Hearing these stories, reading this history, it’s evident that in God’s Kingdom there are no little people, that His treasure is found in earthen vessels like us.

[You can view some pictures from this trip in the right sidebar — including a picture of the church where Schaeffer preached and the home where they lived.]

L’Abri : Sounds & Sites of a Shelter

Uploaded by on Nov 12, 2006

A fun video of the day in the life at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. I made this video in 2003 while there and I was trying to capture the sounds and everyday life of it. Was on the Labri.org site for quite sometime. Not meant to be the end all video of what L’Abri is like today, but trying to make an entertaining video for the students and people who are curious about what L’Abri is.

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L’Abri crew in the Vaud Alps

Uploaded on Jun 10, 2006

hiking up high – the sound is a little behind the picture for some reason

 

SOUNDWORD LABRI CONFERENCE VIDEO – Five Ideas – An Introduction to L’Abri – DICK KEYES – 1984

Published on Jan 27, 2014

This video is part of the Sound Word L’Abri Conference videos from the last two years of Dr. Schaeffer’s life. Here Dick Keyes gives five points of emphasis that describe the work of L’Abri Fellowship.

Read more about this series here: http://francisschaefferstudies.blogsp…

 

A Day at Swiss L’Abri – pt 1

Uploaded on Nov 20, 2007

This is part one of a series of videos I made during one day at Swiss L’Abri in Huemoz, Switzerland. If you want to know more about L’Abri you can go to http://www.labri.org or my blog at iamchrismartin.blogspot.com

A Day at Swiss L’Abri – pt 2

A Day at Swiss L’Abri – pt 3

A Day at Swiss L’Abri – pt 4

A Day at Swiss L’Abri – pt 5

A Day at Swiss L’Abri – pt 6

L’abri

 

 

Swiss L’abri

Uploaded on Jul 22, 2006

L’abri is many things–a shelter, a community, a thinktank, study center, and a home. I lived here for two months in the summer of 2006, and this video is an attempt to capture some of the memories.

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L’Abri: 6 Months

Uploaded on Jan 27, 2007

Video I made for the L’Abri website with music by Jozef Luptak. It’s a montage of the people and the day in the life of at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. Music performed live by Jozef Luptak in the Chapel in Huemoz.

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