Book Review by Chris Nelson of Francis Schaeffer, “The God Who Is There” (mentions John Cage)

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review by Chris Nelson of Francis Schaeffer, “The God Who Is There”

     “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM…”Francis A. Schaeffer lived in a tumultuous day and time.  He has been dead now for almost 30 years yet his prophetic witness lives on.  A prophet is one who boldly proclaims the word of God, regardless of circumstance and Schaeffer certainly fit that bill.  Imagine the joy I had when I discovered that I could order The Francis Schaeffer Trilogy, free of charge.  Well, I read the first book of the trilogy, “The God Who Is There” and this is a book I should have read many years ago.
Schaeffer explains the modern mans dilemma and how Christianity is the only unified system of belief and life that can make any sense out of any of our problems.  Schaeffer states that the elites of modern society (cultural leaders in the arts, music, theology etc.) have come to a presupposition, basic understanding, that is unlivable and destructive.  This unlivable system of thought(presupposition) was arrived at by synthesizing various contradictory beliefs and building an untenable philosophy.  One prominent example Schaeffer sites is that of the composer John Cage.  Cage believed that blind chance was the motivating factor in all of life so he composed his music with a flip of a coin and what emerged was a cacophonous din.  Sometimes he tossed the coin thousands of times for a piece of music, Schaeffer reported.  Yet the contradiction in Cages presupposition occurs when it came to his favorite hobby: mushrooms.  Mushrooms can be deadly poisonous if someone does not know which one to pick.  Cage did not leave this to chance.  In fact, this is what he said, “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.  So I decided that I would not approach them in this way!”
Schaeffer proposes that when we are in a discussion with people, we must force them to own up to their presuppositions and their fatal implications.  We must make them eat their own mushrooms so to speak and then we can share the truth of the gospel with them.  Only Jesus Christ, the God who is there in time and space for all eternity can make any sense of our world.  Schaeffer stresses that Christianity is the only faith that really exists in history and in time and makes sense of the tragedies and suffering in this world.
I’ll end this brief review of Schaeffer’s excellent book in his own words.  “The Christian system is consistent as no other system that has ever been.  It is beautiful beyond words, because it has that quality that no other system completely has-you begin at the beginning , and you can go to the end.  It is as simple as that.  And every part and portion of the system can be related back to the beginning.”
God bless you and live, learn and love the gospel of our blessed Savior.

Posted by at 5:57 PM

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