The God Who is There (Introduction)   Leave a comment

My hope is not built on Francis Schaeffer’s writings, but The God Who Is There was my signpost to God. So I thought I’d take a bit looking at what this book means.

Schaeffer was all about the presuppositions, which is probably why he appealed to me in the first place. Growing up in an issues-oriented state, raised by parents who were political opposites, I had been trained early to question my political presuppositions. That I hadn’t questioned my spiritual presuppositions was probably because my parents largely agreed with the Alaskan culture that spiritual things weren’t all that important.

Schaeffer primarily wrote in the period of upheaval during the 1960s and 70s when Christians were coming to L’Abri in Switzerland to sort out their confusion. He was not writing in a vacuum. He was dealing every day with the confusion Christians were experiencing as we entered the post-modern age.

“The present chasm between the generations has been brought about almost entirely by a change in the concept of truth. … The consensus about us is almost monolithic, whether you review the arts, literature or simply read the newspapers and magazines…. On every side you can feel the stranglehold of this new methodology … the way we approach truth and knowing. … And just as fog cannot be kept out by walls or doors, so this consensus comes in around us, til the room we live in is no longer distinct, and yet we hardly realize what has happened ….

Schaeffer recognized way back in the 1950s that modernism was taking a dark turn. He never used the term “post-modernism” but he understood that modernism was headed that way. To him what we term “post-modernism” was really just the logical continuation of modernism’s failure to fulfill its promises.

“If you lived in … the United States before about 1935, you would not have had to spend much time, in practice, in thinking about your presuppositions. … What were these presuppositions? The basic one was that there really are such things as absolutes. They accepted the possibility of an absolute in the area of Being (or knowledge), and in the area of morals. Therefore, because they accepted the possibility of absolutes, though men might disagree as to what these were, nevertheless they could reason together…. “

That was lost and Schaeffer recognized that. Modernism had promised to answer all the questions of man through the sciences and to find agreement in all spheres. It had failed in doing that because science is the study of the material world and there is more to the human experience than the material world. When modernism failed to deliver on that promise, philosophers (who tend to speak for society) despaired and began to find other ways to answer those great questions.

Human societies have a tendency to seek a uniform culture where people can agree on the major issues, but Christians must always stand for God because God is truth. Martin Luther wrote”

“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 that 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 battlefields besides, is mere fight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

Schaeffer did not flinch from the battlefield and he sought to explain to 20th century Christians how their culture had drifted so far from Christianity, but also why their children were and remain at risk of being sucked down with it.

Although I grew up in a non-believing home, I was one of those youth that Schaeffer hoped to wake up to the reality around them, so that they would be free to follow God with their eyes wide open.

That Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There would be in an Alaskan cabin in the middle of nowhere so that I would have reading materials when I (a non-Christian) was bored enough to read a book on Christian apologetics could be deemed a statistical improbability, but I choose to see it as a miracle. God wanted me to read the book. He made sure we were both in the right place at the right time under the right conditions.

Coincidence?

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