Truth Tuesday:Escape to Switzerland L’Abri by Julie Rodgers

Escape to Switzerland L’Abri by Julie Rodgers

The Scientific Age

Uploaded by  on Oct 3, 2011

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Episode VII – The Age of Non Reason

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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 Julie Rodgers 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.

Escape to Switzerland

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I had a full blown existential crisis my junior year in college. Questions were strangling me, and the conservative university I attended only agitated my angst. My friends and I tried to maintain some sort of relationship with God, but we had to wear ear plugs in chapel just to stay sane enough to engage with Him on any meaningful level. And of course I was failing my courses because 11am was just too early to make it out of bed for class.

In a desperate attempt for something real, I boarded a plane bound for a small village in Switzerland called Huemoz. Hidden on the side of a mountain in the snow-capped Swiss Alps was L’Abri, a work study center founded by Francis Schaeffer back in the day. L’Abri was a place for people from all over the world to bring their stories, struggles, messes, and questions—a place to wrestle toward something real. About 30 of the most eccentric people you can imagine from all over the world lived in one large chalet together, called Bellevue, and we wrestled. We wrestled with God, each other, our questions, ourselves. We laughed. We cried, we argued, we read, baked fresh bread, played ping-pong, hiked, knit, gardened, hid bottles of rum and whiskey behind bushes.

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L’Abri was the kind of place where almost anything was fair game. There were a few rules: 1.) We had to attend every scheduled event (which included independent study time in the library, work around the house, meals, lectures, and sessions with our tutors). And 2.) We couldn’t consume alcohol in Bellevue in order to keep it a safe place for those who were recovering. Outside of those rules, we were free to simply be. There were Americans, Koreans, Australians, Christians, agnostics, atheists, and those who homeschooled K-12th grade. Regardless of what we were expected to be throughout our entire lives, at L’Abri we were finally free to simply be where we were, and we were loved.

What did “being where we were” entail? My friend Josh modeled this well after a formal lunch where we argued about God’s intention for creation displayed in the Garden of Eden (or something like that). We were all on the balcony laughing and smoking cigarettes later that afternoon when Josh suddenly walked out buck naked with a cigarette in his hand and said: “F— all this theoretical bulls–t; let’s get back to the garden.” Then he sat down in the nude and enjoyed his cigarette. (Since many of you are probably offended by that, I’ll refrain from posting pictures to illustrate the story.)

While I loved the community and pace of life and Swiss Alps and the stimulating conversations, those aren’t what I cherished most about L’Abri. What shattered my life was this: The men and women at L’Abri abandoned a fear-based version of Christianity. They truly believed that if God was big enough to speak the galaxies into existence and small enough to be present with the prayers of little children, then He would be faithful to meet us where we were. We didn’t need guidelines to glide us toward God; we needed an honest encounter with Him on a personal level. That can’t be manufactured.

Most of us had grown up listening to rhetorically polished sermons, seeing Bible stories on felt boards, hearing God loved good little boys and girls. But so much of it seemed ludicrous to us. We didn’t understand why no one seemed troubled by a God who told Abraham to slay His son on an alter. We didn’t see the beauty in the handful of people ushered into an arc by Providence when thousands were brutally bashed against rocks and left for dead. We couldn’t comprehend why all the characters on the felt boards were white right after we sang “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” And we really didn’t understand why more Christians weren’t bothered by this. Or worse! Why they chastised us for our questions.

I can’t possibly convey the beauty of being let loose in a Christian environment that trusted God loved us enough to meet us in our messes. While many people have encountered God during their bedside prayers, some of us have met him at the bottom of a bottle of rum. Is the honest, messy process what parents wish for their children? Probably not. Is it without tears and scars? Absolutely not. But it was where we were and God meets the real us in real time, not when we’ve finally gotten it right and put our best foot forward. It was beautiful to be in the care of leaders who trusted our gracious God enough to believe He was holding us in His big giant hand no matter what. It was glorious to finally hear we couldn’t create an encounter with Him by behaving or prevent Him from revealing Himself by our debauchery.

I met Jesus that summer. I came back with more questions than answers, but with a genuine faith that He was holding all the broken pieces of my life together—and that He actually loved me. He didn’t love the version of me that I wished I was or the me I thought I was “supposed” to be; He loved me. It’s not until we get outside of a fear-based faith that says we’ve got to control our paths to God that we’re often released to see the mystery that He’s a lot bigger than the little systems we’ve created. And He’s infinitely more frightening and beautiful than the long-haired bearded man on our felt boards.

Francis Schaeffer

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

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