Archive for the ‘francis schaeffer’ Tag

Immorality as a Virtue   Leave a comment

Christians try to not conform to the world-spirit in areas of philosophy and theology. We resist the world’s interpretation and we should be commended for that.

Once we understand God’s truth, we must put it into action. True Bible-believing Christians must affirm the authority of Scripture, but we must also live on Biblical principle. We must walk the walk, not just talk.

It’s not enough for me to say I believe these things. Faith without action is stone cold. I must live according to Scripture.

Let’s be honest! The zeitgeist of my parent’s generation was a fake moral standard. People would teach their children not to murder, steal, and commit adultery, but then cheat on their business partners, affirm their government going to war against nations that weren’t threatening our national security, and read Playboy on the toilet.

By the 1960s, American children were rightfully calling their parents hypocrites.

Those affronted young people then rebelled against their parents’ fake morality with drugs, sex and riots in the streets that accomplished the goals they were aiming for. They then turned around and raised their own children without moral standards. Today’s generation has no moral standards in any absolute sense. We see it in the area of sexual morals. “Every human’s got to lust after somebody right now and if it feels good it can’t be wrong.”

Sexual morals are just the most obvious area, but there are examples in every aspect of morality.

Back in the early 20th century, the “robber barons” amassed huge amounts of wealth for themselves, but they also built libraries, hospitals, museums, and schools and endowed them for future generations, available for everyone to use. They understood that their wealth came in part from the honest efforts of others and they sought to give back to the community in a tangible way. Make use of what was available and any man could do well in society. This was how men like Wally Nickel and Ross Perot became wealthy themselves, though they came from humble means.

Today, our corporate “robber barons” take the money and run. Greed is now called corporate bonuses.

There was a time when men might take charity when they needed it and pay it back when times got better. Today, welfare recipients cheat on their paperwork and the long-term unemployed claim disability to keep receiving benefits.

IMAGE: Bong Hits 4 Jesus bannerStealing is commonplace. We just call it welfare now.

“We must cry for our present world because the idealists who have screamed so loudly (in the 1960s) against the falseness and hypocrisy of the (Greatest Generation) have ended up in an even worse position ….”* producing a generation who deems immorality a virtue.

 

*Francis Schaeffer, No Little People (1981)

Getting Dirty   Leave a comment

“It is difficult for a Christian to walk through the mud without getting dirty,” Francis Schaeffer (No Little People).

I’m basing the next few posts on Francis Schaeffer’s No Little People, a transcription of a sermon he gave at L’Bri in the 1980s. I’ve taken his thoughts – his prescience – and expanded upon it with my own thoughts since I have the advantage of having lived through the last 30 years. Lela

 

Schaeffer’s use of the word “mud” talks about the dirt of this world. God created a perfect world and we – through our rebellion – bent it. We live with the consequences of that abnormal damage, among which is the impossibility of our not being in rebellion against God. All humans are in rebellion. Christians have recognized it and asked God to overlook it based upon our accepting His forgiveness. That’s all that separates us from non-Christians. We accepted Christ’s forgiveness and it makes all the difference in our interactions with God, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves … we are still in rebellion; we’re just honest about it now.

God’s salvation was given in love. He didn’t have to give us that. Those of us who are aware of that love and wish to respond should care what God wants from us. He accepts worship, but more often than not, our worship should have hands and feet. We worship God in the way that we interact with the world. God, through the Biblical writers, told Christians how He wants us to interact with the world:

“And be not conformed to this present world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (Net Bible)

There is a world spirit that has existed since Adam and Eve rebelled against God. It takes different forms in every generation. Today we call it humanism, rationalism, the spirit of the world, zeitgeist – it’s all the same thing really. It is antilaw – revolution against God Himself. Instead of worshipping God as the Supreme Being, we try to step into His throne, to put ourselves at the center of everything and make ourselves the standard of value.

Humanism is Man with a capital M saying “I will only accept knowledge that I myself can generate out from myself.” As with all things spiritual, humanism affects the individual, who puts ME at the center of everything.

Contradictions   Leave a comment

It is a fact of reason that not all positions can be true. If I posit Fact A as true, I cannot (reasonable) accept its exact opposite as being equally true.

Francis Schaeffer formulated this as:

A is not Non-A

Either God exists or He does not.

Understand what this means. If the God of the Bible exists, He created the universe and He owns every heartbeat that keeps you alive. If God exists, it is vitally important that you know Him through a personal relationship with Jesus, because if you do not, you are spending eternity in a place where God is not and since God is the source of all good, that place will be very bad. Christians posit that A is true.

If God doesn’t exist, then none of those things are true. That’s Non-A.

Both cannot be true at the same time and therefore, it matters! My belief in a divine, if wrong, means I’ve lived a happy life and I go into an eternity of … well, that’s up for grabs in Non-A. Nothingness … something other than the Biblical heaven. It doesn’t matter if relativism is correct. I’ve toiled up the mountain on my path and I arrived to find I took the wrong path to the same place everyone else was going anyway.

If the God of the Bible is true, however …

IT MATTERS

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?

A Message to Non-Believers   1 comment

Before you get into a lather about how I “don’t understand” you, let me explain something.

I used to be you! I was raised in a non-Christian household in the very secular state of Alaska. I think my family went to church three times while I was growing up — once for a funeral, once for a wedding, and once because Easter fell on my dad’s mom’s birthday and he wanted to honor her memory … or something like that. My parents were not atheists. More like agnostic-edging-toward-deist-not-interested-in-god-ruining-their-fun American “Christians”. They didn’t give God much thought and neither did I until fog grounded a bush plane in the Alaska wilderness and the only choices for reading materials were the Bible (in German), Zane Grey novels and Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who Is ThereI really hated westerns and I can’t read German, so ….

I read the book in two days and I was challenged to question the presuppositions I’d been raised with. I wasn’t hostile toward God; I just never really thought much about metaphysics. I was a cultural “christian” in that I (sort of) knew the Christmas and Easter stories, but I largely accepted without examination that Jesus was at best a great man who lived a long time ago and at worst was a myth. Because I lived in a very secular state, I didn’t know any faithful Christians personally and the few that I had met turned me off because they seemed really fake to me. I grew up with an old joke about Christians as my basic impression:

“I’m perfect. I don’t drink, smoke or swear. God loves me! Dammit, I left my cigarettes on the bar next to my empty beer.”

Funny, but it turned out not to be true!

Francis Schaeffer’s book gave me pause because he explained why belief is a more reasonable response to the world than nonbelief. But it only gave me pause. I was still skeptical and for the next 16 months, I investigated the evidence for Christianity’s claims. By maintaining an open mind and by treating those faithful Christians who came into my life with respect rather than derision, I eventually came to a place where enough of my objections were answered satisfactorily to where I had to admit that the only thing standing between me and knowing if Christianity’s claims were true was my own unbelief.

I could choose to go on not believing or I could lay aside my objections for a moment and let God show me why belief was the most reasonable response to the world. It took 16 months to get to that point, so it was not a “leap of faith”. I had thoroughly investigated the subject before I accepted salvation.

During those 16 months I learned some things.

  • Christians are human beings who are not perfect. And most of them don’t claim to be.
  • Faithful Christians are generally consistent in what they believe from the Bible, but they struggle to reconcile their faith with their culture, which sometimes leads to perceived inconsistencies.
  • The Bible is surprisingly consistent with itself, but misconceptions abound among both believers and nonbelievers, with the nonbelievers holding the greater share of them.
  • American “cultural christianity” is mostly unfamiliar with the actual teachings of the Bible.
  • The Bible and science do not (contrary to popular belief) disagree about the world. Science properly cannot make any claims to understanding the metaphysical claims of the Bible and the Bible is a book of faith and history, not science. Those claiming that science has proven there is no God (or gods) are mistaken in their claims because they try to make science authoritative outside of the observation of the physical universe, which is its proper field of research.
  • Archaeology has so far been supportive of the Bible’s claims

Because I am not a true believer in science — and never was — I can see theories for what they are — someone’s opinion about the collected evidence. Materialistic scientism arrives at one theory about the origins of the universe and life on the planet by viewing the evidence through the lens of certain presuppositions. Intelligent design (it wasn’t called that in the 1970s, but it was around) has another theory also based on their examination of the evidence colored by their own presuppositions. There are extremes of both groups of theorists who try to take the evidence where it cannot go. Not being a true believer in materialism, I could have faith in God and still respect science for what it does well – collect evidence.

Archaeology hasn’t proven the Bible, but it has not found substantial evidence against the Biblical claims. The same summer I read Schaeffer’s book, I read an article in a magazine about how the Bible was crap because, among other things, Nineveh had never existed. Archaeologists had been looking for it for a century without success, so the writer insisted the Bible was lying about Jonah and, therefore the whole Bible was in question. I believed that claim without examination all during my investigative period. Within days of deciding to let God show me that my objections were misapplied, archaeologists announced that Nineveh had been found.  They’d been looking in the wrong places for a really long time and someone more or less stumbled upon it where they weren’t actually looking. Coincidence? Maybe, but it added evidence to the mountain that I was now scaling. Contrary to popular belief at the time, archaeology was actually confirming many of the claims of the Bible.

I came to the Bible and the claims of Christianity as a skeptic, but I had been challenged to approach the subject with an open mind. An open mind demands proof, but not absolute proof. Absolute proof is the province of a closed mind, a mind that is made up and will not be changed even by overwhelming evidence. I did not require overwhelming evidence. I only needed my reasonable questions answered. Essentially, when my collected evidence spoke more for God’s existence and, particularly for the claims of Jesus Christ, than it did against, I set aside my skepticism and let God answer the rest of my objections.

And, He did!

So, yes, I do understand skepticism, but no, I don’t think skeptics are right.

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