In his book The Great Evangelical Disaster, Schaeffer considers what he pens to be the most important piece of writing among all his other books. The following are what to me seemed he was emphasizing.
First, ideas have consequences and when culture reaps the benefits from a country whose roots are largely from the Reformation, and later abandons these ideas based which are based on the God of Scripture (as so many of our churches have done), then what follows is the disintegration of the culture. This is due to rationalism—the idea that man is the measure of all things. And yet, while the culture seems hopelessly lost, believers must battle with the weapons God has given: all but one is defensive—the word of God (Eph.6)! Battling must be done lovingly, courageously and persistently bathed in prayer. The mark of the Christian must inform all we do; evangelism, discipling, and nurturing. The absolute God and His Son are the only cure for the culture’s ills. We must be healers and surgeons.
Second, the watershed in evangelicalism is Scriptural authority. We must hold to the inerrant, infallibility of the Bible in all of its teaching. This includes those things that pertain to historical and cosmological issues. To falter here is to succumb to the rebellion and relativism of our day which is destroying our culture. Moreover, to hold to this view of Scripture, means that we must live under the Bible’s authority and we must stand firm here, plain and simple.
Third, practicing the truth will be difficult, unpopular and misdiagnosed by many. Biblical inerrancy must not only be professed, but it must be lived out. Where disagreements over secondary doctrinal issues arise, we must lovingly interact. But at the same time there must be church discipline for those who go past the boundaries of historic Christianity. The church and the culture desperately need such a stand, for if there’ no such stand, all will be lost.
Fourth, both the “pietistic fundamentalists” and the “accommodating evangelicals” have committed the same error of compromising one of Christ’s commands in order to do the other. The former don’t want to compromise holiness but they neglect their need to be salt and light. The latter want to walk in love, but neglect to placard God’s absolutes. Neither of these extremes will do at the end of the day. Believers are called to be holy as the heavenly Father is holy while simultaneously being salt and light in a corrupt dark age.
Both holiness and love must be founded in the truth that Christ is the Lord over all creation and the affairs of man. When absolute truth is not the lenses we see to understand reality, and when the Bible is discarded as God’s truth for all mankind, then man becomes the measure of all things.
The result is that image bearers are seen as a myth (i.e., the creation account of being created in God’s image as male and female is discarded for a naturalistic Darwinian account) and thus the weak and marginalized are at the mercy of the elite and powerful. If we are not image bearers but chance matter, why should we treat our 80 year old mother any different than our 2 year old German shepherd? Ultimately, there’s no difference between man and animal, people have no intrinsic value. But is that objectively true? I think not.
Fifth, the world-spirit confuses the kingdom of God with this world and its power structures. It advances a utopian ideal (e.g., you can have your best life now, not the future promised by God in his word), it prevents Micah 6:8 from being done among believers, it devalues history by denying the past and reconstructing it to suit our present sensibilities, it suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness in the academy, it confuses human sexuality and the consequences are destructive for the family, the home and the society. In feminism the driving force is equality without distinctions. When this wins the day confusion gets ever more dominant evidenced in Western civilization’s gender identity crisis.
Sixth, the stakes are massive and if we evangelicals continue to accommodate the world-spirit we have nothing to say, we will be remembered as the generation that championed relativism at the expense of God’s absolute truth as revealed in the Bible. This must be lovingly confronted and lamented at the same time.