Truth Tuesday:Why Francis Schaeffer still matters by John Fischer

Episode 8: The Age Of Fragmentation

Published on Jul 24, 2012

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 John Fischer 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

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Here is the link:

Why Francis Schaeffer still matters

A few years ago I wrote an article in Christianity Today about the late Francis Schaeffer. Today’s Catch is edited from that article because I believe the sensitivity he modeled is much needed today in this mean-spirited, take-sides culture that only stands to get worse in America as a Presidential election approaches. True followers of Christ need to avoid joining in the bashing, and here is a good reason why.

He was a small man — barely five feet in his knickers, knee socks, and ballooning white shirts. For two weeks, first as a freshman, and then again as a senior, I sat in my assigned seat at Wheaton College chapel and heard him cry. He was the evangelical conscience at the end of the 20th century, weeping over a world that most of his peers dismissed as not worth saving, except to rescue a few souls in the doomed planet’s waning hours.

Francis Schaeffer was hard to listen to. His voice grated. It was a high-pitched scream, and when mixed with his eastern Pennsylvania accent, resulted in something like Elmer Fudd on speed. As freshmen, unfamiliar with the thought and works of modern man, we thought it was funny. As seniors, it wasn’t funny any more. After we had studied Kant, Hegel, Sartre, and Camus, the voice was now more like an existential shriek. If Edvard Munch’s The Scream had a voice, it would sound like Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer, who died in 1984, understood the existential cry of a humanity trapped in a prison of its own making.

Schaeffer was the closest thing to a “man of sorrows” I have seen. He could not allow himself to be happy when most of the world was desperately lost and he knew why. He was the first Christian I found who could embrace faith and the despair of a lost humanity all at the same time. Though he had been found, he still knew what it was to be lost.

Schaeffer was the first Christian leader who taught me to weep over the world instead of judging it. Schaeffer modeled a caring and thoughtful engagement in the history of philosophy and its influence through movies, novels, plays, music, and art. Here was Schaeffer, teaching at Wheaton College about the existential dilemma expressed in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film, Blowup, when movies were still forbidden to students. He didn’t bat an eye. He ignored our legalism and went on teaching because he had been personally gripped by the desperation of such cultural statements.

Schaeffer taught his followers not to sneer at or dismiss the dissonance in modern art. He showed how these artists were merely expressing the outcome of the presuppositions of the modern era that did away with God and put all conclusions on a strictly human, rational level. Instead of shaking our heads at a depressing, dark, abstract work of art, the true Christian reaction should be to weep for the lost person who created it. Schaeffer was a rare Christian leader who advocated understanding and empathizing with non-Christians instead of taking issue with them.

The normal human reaction is to hate what we don’t understand. This is the stuff of prejudice and the cause of hate crimes and escalating culture wars. It is much more Christ-like to identify with those we don’t understand — to discover why people do what they do, because we care about them, even if they are our ideological enemies.

Anyway, Jesus asked us to love our enemies. Part of loving is learning to understand. Too few Christians today seek to understand why their enemies think in ways they find abhorrent. Too many of us are too busy bashing feminists, secular humanists, gay activists, and political liberals to consider why they believe what they do. It’s difficult to sympathize with people you see as threats to your children and your neighborhood. It’s hard to weep over those whom you have declared as your enemies.

Perhaps a good beginning would be to more fully grasp the depravity of our own souls, and the depth to which God’s grace had to go to reach us. I don’t think you can cry over the world if you’ve never cried over yourself.

To be sure, Francis Schaeffer’s influence has declined in recent years,as postmodernism has supplanted the modernity he dissected for so long. Schaeffer is not without critics, even among Christians. But perhaps, in the end, his greatest influence on the church will not be his words as much as his cry. The same things that made Francis Schaeffer cry in his day need to make us cry in ours.

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By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

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