The Christian in the World

Posted: September 20, 2008 in Abortion, culture
Tags: , ,

My views have been shaped in large part by one of the most important Christian philosophers of the 20th century.  Francis Schaeffer broke the mold of what it meant to be a Christian and a pastor.  He was both.  He left his parish church in St. Louis and founded a school/Christian commune/flop house near Geneva Switzerland called L’Abri Fellowship.  He shunned the suit and tie in favor of a pony tail and knickers.  Skeptics, seekers and believers of various stripes found their way to L’Abri where they also found answers to their questions offered with love, grace and acceptance.  I was drawn to his renegade spirit that sought the approval of God, not men.   I was held by the weight of his intellectual depth and his love for the truth.


When I first discovered Schaeffer I was under the tutelage (read bondage) of a Bible College that would never allow his hairsyle, goatee and dress on campus, but ironically used his little book, “Escape From Reason.”  Schaeffer was a breath of fresh air in my undergraduate, under-nourished intellectual and spiritual life.  What a joy to find a mentor who affirmed life lived to the full and fully-engaged in real life: in art and culture and politics! 

Having never had a living role model in my life, Schaeffer sort of became that for me.  The major theme of his life is that all truth is God’s truth.  We must never create a false dichotamy between the religious and the secular.  God is not just the God of the church.  He is Lord over all things.  He cares about all things.  He loves all people.  Because God cares about the culture, Christians must care about the culture.  For too long believers have ceded the realm of the public forum to those who have no belief in God.   “Well, we have our churches, with that let us be happy.” 

The secular society was also good with that.  They enjoyed watching the apologetic look on the believers face when they were cut-off in mid-sentence with the rejoinder “we shouldn’t mix religion and politics.” 

“Oh, yeah.  I guess you’re right.”

The founders of America were full-throated men of faith nearly to a man.  Our founding documents are replete with biblical allusions.  I shall not rehash the evidence for that.  It is fact.  There never was a wall of separation between religion and the state.  The state has always been informed by religion.  John Adams said our republic is unsuited for any but a Christian populace.  But over the last sixty years it has become the received wisdom that religious statements and explicit references to the Scriptures should be made out of ear shot from any public forum.  “Christian, stay inside your box and keep off the soap box.”

That must change.  Christians have as much constitutional right as any (arguably more in this nation founded on Christian truth) to bring their values to bear on public policy issues.  We may even make reference to the Scriptures.  We can no longer cede the public square to secular voices.  In a free and vibrant society all pertinent views should be heard.  Let them stand on their own merit.  But let them be heard.  It is the Christian best suited to answer Schaeffer’s probing question, “How Should We Then Live?”

The ramifications of Schaeffer’s thought are legion.  I shall endeavor in future posts to convey some of the continuing impact these thoughts play on my attempt to make sense of the increasingly senseless culture.

  1. shawn barr says:

    Good stuff Kevin. I ordered two of Schaeffer’s books last week after we talked.

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