Summary of “THE NEW SPIRITUALITY” by Francis Schaeffer


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In Schaeffer’s The New Super Spirituality he considers how among non-Christians and in the church we came full circle as a culture in America with our problems without even realizing it.  A generation that found itself in a post Christian world became that which it despised, that which it rejected.  For example, in the sixties the youth rebelled against their parents’ love of affluence and peace and saw their “plastic reality” to provide no real answers to life’s difficult questions.

Instead of reasoning through hard issues, the youth were encouraged to just maintain the status quo.  This anti-intellectualism the youth ironically accepted through the transcendental mysticism of Eastern thought in the sixties which down-played reality as we know it—drug culture sprang up, and thus a denial of reason flourished.  The source of these ideas was a mixture of mysticism, the occult, and some demonic.  It’s easy to become that which you criticize if care is not taken.

In the Christian community, of the many problems that obtained were not understanding what it means for Christ to be Lord over all creation.  Instead of giving answers to tough questions, the youth were told to just believe…they turned away.  There was also no beauty in the community; divorce became rampant, families torn apart—in church—because of an anti-intellectual approach to their orthodoxy.  Moreover, strong legalism set in and many taboos were put in place of Scripture.  This lead to an unbiblical Platonic world-view that denied the importance of the physical world and only spiritual themes mattered.  And while in the new Pentecostalism that unlike their predecessors, experience trumped content, however important experience is.

There are certain marks in the new super spirituality; 1) an unbiblical exegesis of the use of reason and the intellect from 1 Corinthians 1, 2 as if God upheld stupidity as a virtue, 2) a disdain for apologetics thinking it to be “non-spiritual”, 3) the despising of the body and embracing asceticism for its own sake, 4) certain questions are altogether not being asked, thus showing where people’s interest consist, 5) a longing to experience the spectacular and the extraordinary, and 6) an eschatology-centered theology.  How are we to respond to these trends?

Schaeffer says, first it’s important to remember that these people are our Christian brothers and that how we deal with each other determines whether or not the world can know we belong to Christ (Jn.17).

Second, in light of the new Platonism, we must be saturated with the content based propositional revelation of truth in the Scriptures and we must place our freedoms under the lordship of the Holy Spirit.

Third, we must resist the new super-spirituality, and while difficult, steer aright new converts to worship in churches that are orthodox in both doctrine and in their community.

Fourth, we must not overreact when confronting these problems—this is so critical and difficult to do.  It’s truly difficult to strike a balance.  If we are to live in the reality that Christ is Lord over all creation, then as Christians it is incumbent on us to love God in word and deed, prayerfully study our Bible, love the Church and the Culture, care for both Body and Soul, and in all this avoiding extremes and making it our goal to live Scripturally saturated lives.

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