Tag Archives: hatchet job

Responding to Oppenneimer and Lizza:Defending Francis Schaeffer’s influence on believers such as Michele Bachmann(Part 5)

Both Oppenneimer and Lizza (also BlueArkansas Blog) have attacked Francis Schaeffer’s view, but the way to know his views best is to take time to watch his film series. I said that in my first post and I will continue to show all ten episodes of his film series “How should we then live?”

Here are few of my earlier posts:

Responding to Oppenneimer and Lizza:Defending Francis Schaeffer’s influence on believers such as Michele Bachmann(Part 4)

 

Responding to Oppenneimer and Lizza:Defending Francis Schaeffer’s influence on believers such as Michele Bachmann(Part 2)

Responding to Oppenneimer and Lizza:Defending Francis Schaeffer’s influence on believers such as Michele Bachmann(Part 1), August 20, 2011 – 8:23 pm

This is a series of posts concerning presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her religious beliefs. Particularly I will be looking at the identity of Francis Schaeffer who Michele said had major impact on her views. I also would say that Francis Schaeffer was the greatest christian philosopher of the 20th century.

In 1979 I first watched the film series “How should we then live?” and it was so impressive to me that I returned to my high school with permission from my former teacher to view the series again. In fact, Mr. Brink would tell the seniors at Evangelical Christian School in  Cordova, TN something to this affect: “I hope you realize how important this film series by Dr. Francis Schaeffer is. Here we have Everette Hatcher who is in college now, but he is coming back to see this film again because he knows how valuable it is.”

The best way to understand Michele Bachmann’s worldview is to watch the film series “How should we then live?” by Francis Schaeffer. I have provided a 30 minute episode at the end of this post with a written outline.  In this film series the humanist worldview is seen as weak because it is not able to give adequate answers to life’s tough questions while the christian worldview can.  Humanism has a finite base because it is limited to finite man while the Christian worldview is based on information provided by the infinite-personal God of the Bible.

__________________________

The New Yorker Smears Francis Schaeffer and Michele Bachmann August 11, 2011 by John Scotus

In a recent hatchet job on Michele BachmannNew Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza was so eager to smear Bachmann that he smeared Francis Schaeffer as well.

I do not know enough about Bachmann to respond to the bulk of the article about her. However I know enough about editing and writing to know that Lizza did not really have a story, so he just started pulling stuff out of thin air in order to meet the required word count for the article.

Apparently, the Bachmann’s watched Schaeffer’s film series How Should We then Live? in the late 1970s. This in turn causes Lizza to churn out more than 1200 words about Schaeffer, all of which can best be characterized as a complete misrepresentation of Schaeffer’s work and views. He makes Schaeffer out to be some right-wing, crazy, Christian fanatic out to take over the government, install a Christian theocracy, and poison the populace with his outlandish views. Since Schaeffer was a fairly mainstream evangelical, in effect, by slandering Schaeffer, Lizza is slandering the vast majority of theologically conservative Christians in the US, but he seems unaware of this fact. Further, Lizza is unable to provide any link between Bachmann and Schaeffer, except for Bachmann’s statement that Schaeffer’s film was an influence to her.

Funny. In the mid-1970s, I saw the movie Jaws and it influenced my views on some issues (film, ocean swimming, etc.). If Lizza were writing my profile, he would no doubt use more than 1200 words to misrepresent the content of the film (“bloodthirsty sheriff, brain-addled fisherman, and deluded marine biologist persecute and kill harmless fish, breaking numerous laws in the process”), to ruminate about the dangers of the sea (“the ocean is very dangerous for sharks, as crazy people want to kill them”), and to talk about how people had become afraid of sharks (“Saturday Night Live once did a skit called ‘Land shark’, proving how paranoid even America’s elite had become because of this vile film about this benign yet beautiful sea creature”).  Yet, none of this would be the least bit relevant to me or my life. There is no story there.

Bachmann watching a film series in 1979 is certainly no justification for more than 1200 words of prose. A true journalist would have just reported what Bachmann said, made a quick note accurately explaining who Schaeffer was, and then talked about Bachmann and her views. However, Lizza wants to tarnish Bachmann’s reputation through guilt by association with Schaeffer. Sadly for his readers, he does not provide much evidence of a Bachmann-Schaeffer link to begin with, and Schaeffer is not guilty of the crimes Lizza accuses him of.

Among other things, Lizza reports,

In 1981, three years before he died, Schaeffer published “A Christian Manifesto,” a guide for Christian activism, in which he argues for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed.

A summary of A Christian Manifesto, delivered in an address by Francis Schaeffer, can be found here. In his address, he talks of civil disobedience to the government when its dictates violate the believer’s conscience. Nowhere in his book does he ever call for violent resistance against or advocate the overthrow of the government in any way.

Francis Schaeffer was primarily interested in philosophy, culture, and apologetics, and even today he is known in theologically conservative Christian circles as one of the best modern thinkers in those areas. While Schaeffer thought that our beliefs should inform our politics and that Christians should certainly be involved in the political situation, he completely rejected the idea that the country should become a theocracy or that the wall between church and state should be torn down. Rather, Schaeffer was most interested in seeing Christians engage with their culture and society, and bring about a transformation of a country one person at a time through persuasion and the triumph of Christian ideas.

While I do not know if Bachmann is really true to the ideas of Schaeffer, if she is then she certainly rises in my esteem. Schaeffer was by no means a perfect man, but his view of how Christians should interact with society was exactly correct in my humble opinion.

Meanwhile, Ryan Lizza has proven that he is nothing but a hack reporter who has not earned his salary and who thinks lies and innuendo are a substitute for solid journalism.

(H/t Coffee & Markets)

E P I S O D E 5

How Should We Then Live 5-1

I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970’s and I wanted to share it with you. Francis Schaeffer noted, “Reformation Did Not Bring Perfection. But gradually on basis of biblical teaching there was a unique improvement. A. With Bible the ordinary citizen could say that majority was wrong. B. Tremendous freedom without chaos because Bible gives a base for law.”

Another great point that Schaeffer makes in this series is that Communism  has NEVER EXISTED WITHOUT BRINGING REPRESSION.  A few months ago a young person said to me, “I think that Marx was misunderstood and that true communism has not been  really tried yet.” I responded that there are a hand full of Communist countries today and they all have several similar conditions: NO FREEDOM OF PRESS, NO POLITICAL FREEDOM, NO FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND NO ECONOMIC FREEDOM. I noted that Schaeffer has rightly said that Communism  is basically based on materialism and a result it must fail. It does not have a Reformation base.

T h e

REVOLUTIONARY AGE

I. Bible as Absolute Base for Law

A. Paul Robert’s mural in Lausanne.

B. Rutherford’s Lex Rex  (Law Is King): Freedom without chaos; government by law rather than arbitrary government by men.

C. Impact of biblical political principles in America.

1. Rutherford’s influence on U.S. Constitution: directly through Witherspoon; indirectly through Locke’s secularized version of biblical politics.

2. Locke’s ideas inconsistent when divorced from Christianity.

3. One can be personally non-Christian, yet benefit from Christian foundations: e.g. Jefferson and other founders.

II. The Reformation and Checks and Balances

A. Humanist and Reformation views of politics contrasted.

B. Sin is reason for checks and balances in Reformed view: Calvin’s position at Geneva examined.

C. Checks and balances in Protestant lands prevented bloody resolution of tensions.

D. Elsewhere, without this biblically rooted principle, tensions had to be resolved violently.

III. Contrast Between English and French Political Experience

A. Voltaire’s admiration of English conditions.

B. Peaceful nature of the Bloodless Revolution of 1688 in England related to Reformation base.

C. Attempt to achieve political change in France on English lines, but on Enlightenment base, produced a bloodbath and a dictatorship.

1. Constructive change impossible on finite human base.

2. Declaration of Rights of Man, the rush to extremes, and the Goddess of Reason.

3. Anarchy or repression: massacres, Robespierre, the Terror.

4. Idea of perfectibility of Man maintained even during the Terror.

 

IV. Anglo-American Experience Versus Franco-Russian

A. Reformation experience of freedom without chaos contrasts with that of Marxist-Leninist Russia.

B. Logic of Marxist-Leninism.

1. Marxism not a source of freedom.

2. 1917 Revolution taken over, not begun, by Bolsheviks.

3. Logic of communism: elite dictatorship, suppression of freedoms, coercion of allies.

V. Reformation Christianity and Humanism: Fruits Compared

A. Reformation gave absolutes to counter injustices; where Christians failed they were untrue to their principles.

B. Humanism has no absolute way of determining values consistently.

C. Differences practical, not just theoretical: Christian absolutes give limited government; denial of absolutes gives arbitrary rule.

VI. Weaknesses Which Developed Later in Reformation Countries

A. Slavery and race prejudice.

1. Failure to live up to biblical belief produces cruelty.

2. Hypocritical exploitation of other races.

3. Church’s failure to speak out sufficiently against this hypocrisy.

B. Noncompassionate use of accumulated wealth.

1. Industrialism not evil in itself, but only through greed and lack of compassion.

2. Labor exploitation and gap in living standards.

3. Church’s failure to testify enough against abuses.

C. Positive face of Reformation Christianity toward social evil.

1. Christianity not the only influence on consensus.

a) Church’s silence betrayed; did not reflect what it said it believed.

b) Non-Christian influences also important at that time; and many so-called Christians were “social” Christians only.

2. Contributions of Christians to social reform.

a) Varied efforts in slave trade, prisons, factories.

(1) Wesley, Newton, Clarkson, Wilberforce, and abolition of slavery.

(2) Howard, Elizabeth Fry, and prison reforms.

(3) Lord Shaftesbury and reform in the factories.

b) Impact of Whitefield-Wesley revivals on society.

VII. Reformation Did Not Bring Perfection

But gradually on basis of biblical teaching there was a unique improvement.

A. With Bible the ordinary citizen could say that majority was wrong.

B. Tremendous freedom without chaos because Bible gives a base for law.

Questions

1. What has been the role of biblical principles in the legal and political history of the countries studied?

2. Is it true that lands influenced by the Reformation escaped political violence because biblical concepts were acted upon?

3. What are the core distinctions, in terms of ideology and results, between English and American Revolutions on the one hand, and the French and Russian on the other hand?

4. What were the weaknesses which developed at a later date in countries which had a Reformation history?

5. Dr. Schaeffer believes that basic to action is an idea, and that the history of the West in the last two or three centuries has been marked by a humanism pressed to its tragic conclusions and by a Christianity insufficiently applied to the totality of life. How should Christians then approach participation in social and political affairs?

Key Events and Persons

Calvin: 1509-1564

Samuel Rutherford: 1600-1661

Rutherford’s Lex Rex: 1644

John Locke: 1631-1704

John Wesley: 1703-1791

Voltaire: 1694-1778

Letters on the English Nation: 1733

George Whitefield: 1714-1770

John Witherspoon: 1723-1794

John Newton: 1725-1807

John Howard: 1726-1790

Jefferson: 1743-1826

Robespierre: 1758-1794

Wilberforce: 1759-1833

Clarkson: 1760-1846

Napoleon: 1769-1821

Elizabeth Fry: 1780-1845

Declaration of Rights of Man: 1789

National Constituent Assembly: 1789-1791

Second French Revolution and Revolutionary Calendar: 1792

The Reign of Terror: 1792-1794

Lord Shaftesbury: 1801-1855

English slave trade ended: 1807

Slavery ended in Great Britain and Empire: 1833

Karl Marx: 1818-1883

Lenin: 1870-1924

Trotsky: 1879-1940

Stalin: 1879-1953

February and October Russian Revolutions: 1917

Berlin Wall: 1961

Czechoslovakian repression: 1968

Further Study

Charles Breunig, The Age of Revolution and Reaction: 1789-1850 (1970).

R.N. Carew Hunt, The Theory and Practice of Communism (1963).

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1957).

Peter Gay, ed., Deism: An Anthology (1968).

John McManners, The French Revolution and the Church (1970).

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1957).

Louis L. Snyder, ed., The Age of Reason (1955).

David B. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (1975).

J. Kuczynski, The Rise of the Working Class (1971).

Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma (1958).

John Newton, Out of the Depths. An Autobiography.

John Wesley, Journal (1 vol. abridge).

C. Woodham-Smith, The Great Hunger, Ireland, 1845-1849 (1964).

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