Archive for the ‘Francis Schaeffer’ Category

Stack of books at the bookshop

Open Book is a podcast sponsored by Ligonier Ministries. Stephen Nichols interviewed R.C. Sproul in its first season and John MacArthur this season in their respective libraries about authors and books that have had great influence on them.

The podcast got me thinking: what authors have influenced me? The first standard I used  was simply the number of books written by particulars author in my library, excluding commentaries. Here are five of the authors who appear most in my personal library.

  1. John MacArthur. I have more books written by MacArthur in my library than any other author. I’ve learned much from him and admire his faithfulness to Scripture.
  2. R.C. Sproul. Sproul’s influence on me has been immeasurable. From the holiness and sovereignty of God to an unwavering commitment to the gospel, I owe a debt of gratitude to him. I miss him.
  3. Jerry Bridges. The Pursuit of Holiness was my introduction to Bridges, which began  commitment to read everything he writes. I’ve almost achieved it. Bridges is faithful to the Word, simple yet profound, and encouraging.
  4. Francis Schaeffer. I’m glad I read Schaeffer as a new Christian because he helped shape my worldview. Some of his concepts were a bit beyond me, but as I re-read him, they became clearer. Schaeffer’s thinking and warnings stand up well today.
  5. C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity was the first of many Lewis books. He has an engaging style and gives you a lot to think about. He was a professor of classics, and many of his  works are just that.

I need to point out that by mentioning these books and authors, I’m not endorsing everything they wrote.

So, what’s in your library?

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The God Who Is There, by Francis Scaheffer, is a classic. Written in the late 1960’s, its relevancy today cannot be denied. Schaeffer had the uncanny ability to see and understand the spiritual and intellectual climate of the last half of the twentieth century. Schaeffer’s ministry, and this book, ignited a generation of Christian thinkers and apologists.

Yes, the book is that good, and yes, it’s that foundational. Historic orthodox Christianity has something to say to this culture, just like it had something to say when this book was written. In fact, it is the only solution to the problems we face. Schaeffer was interested in the logical conclusions of a person’s worldview, a presentation of truth that always takes into account the dignity and depravity of man, a commitment to remain faithful to biblical orthodoxy, and the necessity of both truth and love as we speak and as we live. All of that, and more can be found in this book.

I highly recommend The God Who Is There. It will help you understand our time (both then and now). It even has a glossary, which is helpful.

Tolle lege!

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Sinclair Ferguson said, “If someone put us in a room with no distractions and said, ‘I just want you to sit there and think about the Lord Jesus for 5 minutes’…many evangelicals in the Western world would find that an enormous trial. Because we don’t know 5 minutes worth of the Lord Jesus.” Sadly, I think he’s right.

One of the best podcasts I can recommend is The Briefing with Al Mohler. Around 20 minutes of commentary on current events from a biblical worldview. You can find it at http://www.almohler.com…”A room without books is like a body without a soul” (G.K. Chesterton).

There should be a sympathy card that has the following words on the outside: “I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say.” On the inside it should be blank (Job 2:13). That would be infinitely better than the sentimental pablum which fills most cards…”Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15).

No one who supports same-sex marriage has an answer to why marriage should be limited to gender alone. For example, why should the number of people matter if gender doesn’t? There’s no reason it should if their own logic is considered: the only thing that matters is who you love. So why should it be limited to age? Or species? Or within a biological family? According to the “Love Wins” logic, there shouldn’t any limitation. The secular left won’t have any way to stop any of these – in particular, Muslims who support polygamy.

Cheers to Robert Zimmer, who is President of the University of Chicago! He sent a letter to incoming freshmen announcing that no “safe spaces” are to be found on campus. “Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn without the fear of censorship. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort,” he wrote. Well done, President Zimmer!

Congratulations to the Hillsboro Hops for making the Northwest League playoffs for the third year in a row! The back-to-back champs are threatening a three-peat…The God Who is There, written by Francis Schaeffer in the late 1960’s, continues to be relevant and prophetic…RIP Gene Wilder. Willy Wonka is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Blazing Saddles is close…Take heart, the Lord Jesus Christ is conquering and putting all enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:20-28)!

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Francis Schaeffer wrote all of these words in 1968, but they accurately explain our current cultural climate. You might even say they are prophetic.

The present chasm between the generations has been brought about almost entirely by a change in the concept of truth.

The tragedy of our situation today is that men and women are being fundamentally  affected by the new way of looking at truth and yet they have never even analyzed the drift which has taken place. Young people from Christian homes are brought up in the old framework of truth. Then they are subjected to the modern framework. In time they become confused because they do not understand the alternatives with which they are being presented. Confusion becomes bewilderment, and before long they are overwhelmed. This is unhappily true not only of young people, but of many pastors, Christian educators, evangelists, and missionaries as well.

He speaks of presuppositions that people who lived in Europe held before 1890 and that people from the Unites States held until about 1935.

Before these dates everyone would have been working on much the same presuppositions, which in practice seemed to accord with the Christian’s own presuppositions…

What were those 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 on the classical basis of antithesis. So if anything was true, the opposite was false. In morality, if one thing was right, its opposite was wrong. This little formula, ‘If you have A, it is not non-A,’ is the first move in classical logic. If you understand the extent to which this no longer holds sway, you will understand our present situation.

The shift has been tremendous. Thirty or more years ago you could have said such things as ‘This is true’ or ‘This is right,’ and you would have been on everybody’s wavelength. People may or may not have thought out their beliefs consistently, but everyone would have been talking to each other as though the idea of antithesis was correct. Thus in evangelism, in spiritual matters and in Christian education, you could have begun with the certainty the your audience understood you.


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On the recommendation of James White (of Alpha and Omega Ministries), I’m going to start re-reading the Francis Schaeffer trilogy. The God Who is There and Escape from Reason were published in 1968, while He Is There and He Is Not Silent came along four years later in 1972. Although Schaeffer wrote these books nearly fifty years ago, the ideas he presented help explain where we are today as a culture.

Our society is coming apart at the seams very quickly. The police-involved deaths, along with the assassination of five police officers (not to mention the reactions), brought it to our attention this last week. None of us could have imagined how much things have changed in the last ten years. Calls for unity (“Can’t we all just get along!”) have very little chance of being answered for one simple reason – we no longer share the same worldview. Almost all Americans, until now, have shared the Judeo-Christian worldview, even if they weren’t believers in Christ. That’s no longer true. Schaefer explains why in his trilogy.

I read these books in 1981 or 1982 when I was a very new Christian and found them fascinating. They should be nothing less this time around. White also suggested reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell to further understand the times we live in.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 13:31-35. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Both Jesus and the Father are glorified by the Son’s death, and we glorify God when we love other believers as He has loved us.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 12:12-19. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Jesus presented Himself as King which fulfilled prophecy, destroyed false views others had of Him – all of which demands a response.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on civil disobedience (a follow-up on last week’s sermon on 1 Peter 2:13-17). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: When we understand the purpose of civil government and the priority of a Christian (God above all else), we understand the possibility of civil disobedience.

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Francis Schaeffer wrote the following words in 1968:

We live in a post-Christian world. What should be our perspective as individuals, as institutions, as orthodox Christians, as those who would claim to be Bible-believing? How should we look at this post-Christian world and function as Christians in it?

The church in our generation needs reformation,revival, and constructive revolution.

At times men think of two words, reformation and revival, as standing in contrast to the other, but this is a mistake. Both words are related to the word restore.

Reformation gives to a restoration to pure doctrine; revival refers to a restoration in the Christian’s life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture; revival speaks of a life brought into its proper relationship to the Holy Spirit.

The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action so that the church has returned to pure doctrine and the lives of Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit.

Such a combination of reformation and revival would be revolutionary in our day – revolutionary in our individual lives as Christians, revolutionary not only in reference to the liberal church but constructively revolutionary in the evangelical, orthodox church as well.

May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival so that this poor dark world may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and Spirit-filled life.

(Death in the City, pp. 11-12)

2014 is no different! May God bring us reformation and revival leading to constructive revolution!

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If you’ve read, or even heard of, Frank Schaeffer’s book Crazy for God, you’re aware that the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer’s son (Frank, that is) has written a quite unflattering portrait of his parents and their ministry. Francis and Edith are fallen human beings like the rest of us, and certainly growing up with them would provide plenty of illustrations of sinful behavior just like it would with the rest of us.

Os Guinness spent a lot of time with the Schaeffers, including Frank, at L’Abri. He’s written a review of Crazy for God that can only be described as fantastic. You can read it here. Guinness is convinced that Frank has been unfair, unkind, and self-serving in his book and wanted to provide a response. If that was his goal, he achieved it spectacularly well. There’s nothing wrong with telling stories about people “warts and all” (the Bible does it), but there comes a point where going any further is simply cruel. Frank didn’t just step over that line, he broadjumped it according to Guinness.

Please read this, especially if you were shaped by the ministry of Francis Schaeffer. I was, and I don’t regret the fifteen minutes or so it took to read the review.

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