Tag Archives: francis-schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer

One of my favorite non-fiction authors is the late Christian philosophers Francis Schaeffer. I think the main reason that he sits at the top of my non-fiction reading list is because of the fact that he provides ample ‘proof’ for why Christianity must be both believed and believable. Now, while most Christians attempt to provide such proofs from the pages of the Bible, in itself a problem because the proof being proffered is, to some extent, self-referential under this system, Schaeffer provides his evidence from reasoned, rational logic, referring to Scripture occasionally only when validating that his proofs can, indeed, be found within its pages.

Schaeffer has, perhaps, been one of the greatest influences in my own thinking. He recognizes the problem that many people will not acknowledge the authority of Scripture, and so finds ways to present the Gospel in a way that is simple to them from their own worldview and understanding. He demonstrates time and again how every philosophy and worldview is not, and cannot be, completely consistent and so then how each philosophy must crumble beneath its own weight. He then is able to demonstrate how Christianity is not only completely consistent within its own structure but how every man, woman, and child is able to consistenly live it out.

Schaeffer’s writings are heady material. It invariably takes me a fair amount of time to work my way through each book due to the depth and breadth of the knowledge he presents. My plan over the course of the next few weeks is to reread through his core trilogy and share my thoughts that result from that reading. As such, I have created a new category under Philosophy devoted exclusively to the work of Francis Schaeffer. Consider this your introduction to this noted philosopher. ((Incidentally, the three books I will be commenting on can be found in one volume, the The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy. It is highly recommended reading.))

Dealing Truth with Grace

Back from the weekend internet desert…

bq. Jim,
OK…now here’s the dilemma I find I get myself into…but I feel you can help me clarify this in my mind. I believe in absolute truth. And yet, in situations like you’ve described here, with the Hindu, (very similar to what I deal with on my blog in some ways with some of the visitors I get) how do you declare that your truth is absolute without offending them to the point that you can’t be agreeable? I sometimes feel like I don’t speak the truth plainly enough and yet, I do…I really think I do. I don’t know. Can you give me a word of encouragment about this…”#”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=108#comment-269

Good question. Honestly, I think the way you would handle this is going to vary a bit, depending on your audience. To some extent, we have to do exactly as Christ instructed — declare our faith with boldness. Sure, this is going to offend some people, maybe even a lot of people, but Christianity is offensive to those who want to live life on their own terms. They don’t like to be told that the things they do and believe, that the way they have lived their lives is wrong and displeasing to an Almighty God. But the only way they are going to know is if someone tells them.

Now, this does not mean that we have to be harsh and cruel about it. Tact is a virtue. With people who are more understanding and not quick to anger, I am usually able to speak with a greater degree of frankness without having to worry about using exactly the right phrases and words to avoid stepping on their personal sensibilities. With people who are, in my opinion, more insecure, I try to speak openly and honestly about what I believe and why without using dialogue that is abrasive. Essentially, I share what I believe, that I hold that my beliefs are right and true and the _only_ way to live and believe, without trying to force anyone to believe as I do. I try to always make it clear that I can’t make anyone think the way I do and that I am not trying to. Part of this requires me to treat the viewpoints and opinions of others with respect, even if I disagree, and if I can poke holes in their arguments, I will do so (even though this is not usually well-received). But part of discoursing about what is truth and what is not requires people to talk and share and pick apart each others’ arguments.

One of my favorite philosophers is Francis Schaeffer, and it was his ministry to tear apart the inaccurate philosophies and worldviews and demonstrate why those philosophies could not be held with any kind of consistency. He showed time and again how the philosophy of the Bible was the only one that could be adhered to consistently. Yet, he was not ‘offensive’ about it, _per se_, though he offended a great many people by demonstrating the untruths of their philosophies.

It is impossible to live the Christian life well without offending other people. Christ said that we would be hated by the world for our beliefs, and we see this every day. But it is possible to have agreeable discourse with those who disagree with our beliefs. Really, I think the biggest part of attaining this is maintaining respect for people who disagree. Those Christians who lose respect with the world and who find they cannot minister effectively are typically those who treat the world with condescension and snide behavior. It is impossible to share Christ when you make yourself better than Christ.

Pointless Speculation

When does “speculation become pointless?”:http://open-dialogue.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1526#1526 Just how many times can one ask, ‘What if…?’ before one ends up beating a dead horse? There are a lot of questions asked within the realm of Christianity and theology, a lot of arguments and discussions that can be viewed as pointless because the answers can never be fully known, because many of the conclusions are left to the individual’s opinion and discretion, because the discussion ends up only spinning its wheel, cycling again and again through the same arguments and logic. Are these questions and discussions then, in and of themselves, pointless? I would say, Not necessarily.

The backbone of most theological questions within Christianity rests upon the assumption that God exists, that He is active in the lives of His image-bearers, that we are in need of His salvation, that His Son provided the means to obtain that salvation, and that we only need accept that gift in order to permanently secure our place in Heaven in eternity to come. Everything else is, to some extent, up for discussion once you have accepted these foundational principles. I believe that God expects His children to be curious about everything, to ask questions, even if those questions have no answers right now. I think it hurts nothing at all to entertain speculative discussion, so long as that undertaking does not result in anger, hatred, and bitterness. It is all too easy to formulate an opinion about something and then hold to that opinion so strongly as to consider it proven truth.

The point of speculative discussion is, I believe, to ferret out falsehoods, as much as possible, and replace them with Biblical truths. God has provided for us everything that we NEED to know through the medium of the Bible — everything that we need in order to know Him, to enter into a relationship with Him, to live a righteous and moral life that is pleasing to Him. What He doesn’t tell us or leaves unclear is, therefore, less important, though no less open to our searching. I believe that it pleases Him when we entertain those questions that have no answers because it means that His image-bearers are exercising the image of God by thinking critically, using creativity, and discovering the vast intricacies and mysteries of this world, this universe in which He placed us. But I believe that it displeases and saddens Him when this exercise of His image results in conflict with each other and with Him.

So, ask your questions, entertain your ‘pointless’ discussions, but bear in mind that all this should bring glory to God and should be done with the end of learning more about this God we serve and to deepen and make richer the fellowship of the Body of Christ.

You Can’t Force Unity

Man’s search for a unified body of knowledge has led to a “forcing” of that unity because he has not been able to attain it in any rational sort of way, and he has forced this unity to encompass all of life and all of knowledge. Man has been reduced to a machine, with no freedom, just a function of the elements. And yet we know that free will exists, for Man operates against what would seem logical and against what would seem to be the appropriate response to a specific stimulus. And the modern modern scientist would simply nod and smile and insist that this is still not freedom, that there must be an element of which we are unaware which causes the response, for Man is a machine, determined by Fate or the environment or whatever else to behave in a certain way.

Thought based upon a chapter by Francis Schaeffer in Escape from Reason.