Summary of “No Final Conflict” Francis Schaeffer

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In No Final Conflict, Schaeffer among other things argues for the primacy of the Bible as God’s final self-disclosure to man which is both transcultural, and trans-time.  While special revelation (i.e., the Bible) shows us God’s redemptive plan, general revelation (i.e., the Creation) displays the other aspect of His glory.  When theologians and scientists relegate the Bible to the mere subjective, relativistic corner, it is held that only science can give us knowledge.  However, the Scripture’s self-affirmations don’t give us this capital.

Where the Bible touches on History and the Cosmos it gives us true knowledge, if not, then Evangelicalism is a sham, grounded merely on a weak view of Scripture.  If Scripture is not faithfully applied to the raging culture war, he quotes Martin Luther:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” [pg.122]

 Scripture is the biggest issue today.  This is the biggest issue is both the nature and reliability of Scripture and depending on our view, it will determine whether or not we are truly Evangelical. 

Schaeffer further argues for the Bible’s historicity through the unity of Genesis in its genealogical statements, the nature of Scripture, the limits of our knowledge of both Special and General Revelation and the need to humbly ascertain the two.  At the end of the day, if Evangelicals acquiesce to a weak view of Scripture (i.e., it’s a myth, not a reliable source of historical knowledge) then God will in the end not have spoken.  Only man will have spoken through his culturally conditioned era.

If this weak view of Scripture is received and practiced, the difficulties that lie ahead will wipe out many professing believers, AND the lost will not be found.  Instead they will dance into eternity without the redemptive knowledge of God, but only into His wrathful presence.

We need Holy hot orthodox boldness so that we may winsomely love our neighbor and lay down our lives for them.  Gone are the days where we can leave said decision for tomorrow, the time to act is now, the time to truthfully love as God commands is also now.  What will the Master say to us when on that day our faces meet?  Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your master, or, depart from me I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.

Summary of  “Back to Freedom and Dignity” Francis Schaeffer

 

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Back to Freedom and Dignity is Francis Schaeffer’s fourth book in the first volume “A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture.”  In this book, Schaeffer considers the natural outcome of a culture run by a physicalist world-view (i.e., matter is all there is, immaterial realities do not exist).  The end result is that man is just a machine, without an enduring “I” at the mercy of the “mighty” “elite” “those in the know” (i.e., scientists).

The “freedom and dignity” afforded to man ends up being no less than a lab rat to discover what can be “improved upon.”  Skinner, Crick, and Company must be taken seriously, because their ideas are so lethal to man’s “mannish-ness” (i.e., the inescapable characteristics of humanity that evidence being created in God’s image rather than being a purposeless accident).

Summary of “He Is There and He is Not Silent” FRANCIS SCHAEFFER

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 “He Is There and He is Not Silent” is Francis Schaeffer’s third book of the first volume “A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture.”  In it, he considers the three main areas of philosophy: Metaphysics, Ethics, and Epistemology.  Schaeffer uses the pre-suppositional method as a means to consider how Being, Oughtness, and Knowing make the most sense from that which is Impersonal or from the Personal. 

He skillfully argues for the Personal over against the Impersonal as the most rational option.  This conclusion is based on what he terms as the “mannish-ness” of man (i.e., because human beings are created in God’s image, they always mirror this reality in the way they think and live).  The world is such that in these 3 categories (metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics), God is there and He is not silent.  God has spoken and as such He is the “Hub” of Being, of Ought-ness, and of Knowing, not the creature.

Hence, to deny God as the Absolute, Personal, Uncreated, Infinite Creator is to embrace madness.  This is seen in the philosophical systems that aren’t Judeo-Christian.  Man is an image bearer.  To look into the mirror and not know and live in that reality is tragic indeed!

Summary of “The God Who is There” FRANCIS SCHAEFFER

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One of the most influential Christian thinkers of the latter 20th century is Francis Schaeffer.  His works I’ve found to be thought provoking, uncomfortably challenging, and deeply personal.  The wisdom with which he writes on ultimate issues and cultural contexts is refreshing.

So for the next few months I’ll be posting summaries of his writings that I trust will strengthen, challenge and transform the way you think and live.

In his first book The God Who is There, Schaeffer starts with the issue of absolute truth.  He argues that absolute truth is grounded in the “God Who is There.”  Thus to deny His existence has resulted in a despair that has decimated the West for the last 120 years or so.  This despair is visible in the areas of philosophy, art, music, general culture, and even in theology.

Shaeffer says that this line of despair  arises when absolute truth is jettisoned.  According to him, this truth is grounded in God, and when he is denied, there’s an “upper and lower story” that unfolds.  First, there’s the Upper Story or Above the Line where faith that is not open to verification resides and this “faith” gives meaning to ones life.   Second, there’s the  Lower Story or Below the Line where rationality resides.  Here the world of facts exists where reason and knowledge are attained through science by man’s ability to reason.  Thus, man as the measure of all things, is reduced to being a chance machine without purpose or meaning in life.  This view of knowledge and human nature results in despair.

Shaeffer notes that the Christian Worldview radically differs from the mechanistic worldview that brings despair.  For it answers man’s deepest longings and needs consistently with how his “mannishness” expresses itself.  This is not a world of wishful thinking, but one of reality for God exists!  This means that mankind is not here by chance, but by design for they bear the image of God.

Shaeffer goes on to explain, that because of man’s alienation from God, self, others, and nature, humanity has true guilt.  God’s solution to man’s plight is Christ Jesus who rescues from God’s wrath.  This work of Christ purchased our redemption in real space, time history and is not a a myth, but a reality.  Depending on man’s response to Christ Jesus, either joy or despair is increasingly deepened in the human experience.

Therefore, the Christian’s approach in life when relating to others must be one of understanding the human plight and compassionately championing absolute truth which is grounded in God.   There must be the awareness that to “take the roof off” or demonstrate the irrationality and contradictions lived by a modern person is very painful.  And yet, the believer is to compassionately allow the existential impossibility of living out the modern person’s worldview be felt.

Shaeffer moreover holds that true biblical Evangelism must start in Genesis 1-3 which is the basis for understanding the Gospel of Christ.  For it is here that the Bible says, “In the beginning God…”.  That is, we must start with God to understand all of reality for He, not humanity, is the measure of all things.  From here, the believer must then be prepared to clarify what true-truth is; what real guilt is; that Christ must be truly treasured and that disciples must be truly made. 

Shaeffer, thus encourages believers to be in word and prayer, to be in community with outsiders and insiders—God’s people.  And to remember the indispensability of being in a community where the Bible is being faithfully taught as objective truth rather than some twisted theology foreign to the text of scripture.