Skip to comments.A Christian Manifesto, by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer [Part 1 of 14]
Posted on 01/04/2013 9:59:38 AM PST by Alex Murphy
This address was delivered by the late Dr. Schaeffer in 1982 at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is based on one of his books, which bears the same title.
[Part 1 of 14]
Christians, in the last 80 years or so, have only been seeing things as bits and pieces which have gradually begun to trouble them and others, instead of understanding that they are the natural outcome of a change from a Christian World View to a Humanistic one; things such as overpermissiveness, pornography, the problem of the public schools, the breakdown of the family, abortion, infanticide (the killing of newborn babies), increased emphasis upon the euthanasia of the old and many, many other things.
All of these things and many more are only the results. We may be troubled with the individual thing, but in reality we are missing the whole thing if we do not see each of these things and many more as only symptoms of the deeper problem. And that is the change in our society, a change in our country, a change in the Western world from a Judeo-Christian consensus to a Humanistic one. That is, instead of the final reality that exists being the infinite creator God; instead of that which is the basis of all reality being such a creator God, now largely, all else is seen as only material or energy which has existed forever in some form, shaped into its present complex form only by pure chance.
I want to say to you, those of you who are Christians or even if you are not a Christian and you are troubled about the direction that our society is going in, that we must not concentrate merely on the bits and pieces. But we must understand that all of these dilemmas come on the basis of moving from the Judeo-Christian world view -- that the final reality is an infinite creator God -- over into this other reality which is that the final reality is only energy or material in some mixture or form which has existed forever and which has taken its present shape by pure chance.
The word Humanism should be carefully defined. We should not just use it as a flag, or what younger people might call a "buzz" word. We must understand what we are talking about when we use the word Humanism. Humanism means that the man is the measure of all things. Man is the measure of all things. If this other final reality of material or energy shaped by pure chance is the final reality, it gives no meaning to life. It gives no value system. It gives no basis for law, and therefore, in this case, man must be the measure of all things. So, Humanism properly defined, in contrast, let us say, to the humanities or humanitarianism, (which is something entirely different and which Christians should be in favor of) being the measure of all things, comes naturally, mathematically, inevitably, certainly. If indeed the final reality is silent about these values, then man must generate them from himself.
So, Humanism is the absolute certain result, if we choose this other final reality and say that is what it is. You must realize that when we speak of man being the measure of all things under the Humanist label, the first thing is that man has only knowledge from himself. That he, being finite, limited, very faulty in his observation of many things, yet nevertheless, has no possible source of knowledge except what man, beginning from himself, can find out from his own observation. Specifically, in this view, there is no place for any knowledge from God.
But it is not only that man must start from himself in the area of knowledge and learning, but any value system must come arbitrarily from man himself by arbitrary choice. More frightening still, in our country, at our own moment of history, is the fact that any basis of law then becomes arbitrary -- merely certain people making decisions as to what is for the good of society at the given moment.
Now this is the real reason for the breakdown in morals in our country. It's the real reason for the breakdown in values in our country, and it is the reason that our Supreme Court now functions so thoroughly upon the fact of arbitrary law. They have no basis for law that is fixed, therefore, like the young person who decides to live hedonistically upon their own chosen arbitrary values, society is now doing the same thing legally. Certain few people come together and decide what they arbitrarily believe is for the good of society at the given moment, and that becomes law.
....I want to say to you, those of you who are Christians or even if you are not a Christian and you are troubled about the direction that our society is going in, that we must not concentrate merely on the bits and pieces. But we must understand that all of these dilemmas come on the basis of moving from the Judeo-Christian world view -- that the final reality is an infinite creator God -- over into this other reality which is that the final reality is only energy or material in some mixture or form which has existed forever and which has taken its present shape by pure chance....
....this is the real reason for the breakdown in morals in our country. It's the real reason for the breakdown in values in our country, and it is the reason that our Supreme Court now functions so thoroughly upon the fact of arbitrary law. They have no basis for law that is fixed, therefore, like the young person who decides to live hedonistically upon their own chosen arbitrary values, society is now doing the same thing legally. Certain few people come together and decide what they arbitrarily believe is for the good of society at the given moment, and that becomes law.
The entirety of Dr. Schaeffer's 1982 address at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church will be posted over the course of the next two weeks. Section divisions and titles are mine:
Part 1: The Reason for the Breakdown
Part 2: The Source of Inalienable Rights
Part 3: World Views In Shift
Part 4: Tyranny begotton of Relativism
Part 5: Should I Save This Life?
Part 6: When Human Life has No Value
Part 7: Where have the Bible-believing Christians been?
Part 8: Where has the Christian Leadership been?
Part 9: Oppression begotten of Materialistic Chance
Part 10: Tyranny and Hidden Censorship
Part 11: True Spirituality brings Social Change
Part 12: The Cost of Spirituality
Part 13: Christ Must be Lord, Not Caesar
Part 14: Prayer
Bump for later.
My favorite Christian writer after The Bible. He talks about reality. Thanks for printing this.
Years ago, when Schaeffer was bringing out the “How then shall we live” series, I heard him speak about similar topics. I watched the videos & was a little non-plussed that he never really answered the question. He clearly claims to be a reformed thinker, but seemed to wander into a free-will ethos where all of this cultural shift was something which could be avoided if only we...fill in the blank. And that blank was fuzzy and moveable. Perhaps this will be a little more definitive.
Nevertheless, his trilogy is great reading for believers who think the atheistic naturalists sound smart and unassailable. He points out how bankrupt their positions are and how much they need theism just to keep their brains from exploding.
Thanks for posting the series. I’ll try to catch each installment.
Agreed on all counts. I've always liked the below quote summarizing Francis Schaeffer's writings. It comes from Gary North's book Political Polytheism, which spends nearly a third of its length exploring those gaps in Schaeffer's thinking:
My essay on Rev. Schaeffer is mostly critical. I believe that he gave away far too much ground to the humanists and liberals who were the targets of his critiques. I believe that his apologetic approach, like Cornelius Van Til's, was deeply compromised by antinomianism and by eschatological pessimism. To prove my case, I have had to take a critical stand against him. This is a one-sided, specialized essay, not a well-rounded assessment of his personal ministry overall. I believe that on the whole, he (like Van Til) fought the good evangelical fight, given his self-imposed theological handicaps, his lack of formal academic training beyond seminary, and his geographical isolation in Switzerland (To some extent, all three were advantages: they kept him out of the increasingly debilitating clutches of the academic compromisers who control the humanities classrooms of the modern Christian liberal arts colleges). He inflicted serious wounds on humanists within the modern evangelical Church, which is why they are so vindictive, now that he is gone. Furthermore, his counsel and books brought many intelligent young people to saving faith in Jesus Christ in a turbulent period of Western history. Finally, he did elevate the terms of evangelical intellectual discourse from 1968 until his death. My disagreement with Rev. Schaeffer centers on the fact that he did not go far enough down the confrontational road. He waffled on key issues. He operated a halfway house intellectual ministry, with all the liabilities associated with any ideologically middle-of-the-road ministry. He did, however, sell over two million books. None of his published critics can match that performance, including me.
I am comparing him to what he could have been, had he remained more faithful to the older Puritan standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith that he affirmed at his ordination. I am comparing him to what he might have been, had he taken the Old Testament case laws more seriously. I am comparing him to what he should have been had he thoroughly abandoned the myth of neutrality that he publicly attacked, and had he really adopted the presuppositional apologetic approach that he sometimes claimed that he accepted. Most of all, I am comparing him to what we needed him to be, had he turned away from the political pluralism that he adhered to. Pluralism's moral foundation is relativism, which he forthrightly warned against--a warning which has outraged his neo-evangelical academic critics. But compared to Hal Lindsey, he was a breath of fresh air. Compared to Robert Schuller, he was a theological life-support system. Compared to Tony Campolo, he was the Apostle Paul.
Thanks for posting this.
Excellent remarks. Schaeffer almost always argued from the very perspective he claimed was deficient...man’s mind. Contending that legitimate epistomological conclusions are at best unreliable if we are in fact just evolved monkeys still equivocates. It’s clever, but it weakens the Scriptural claims. We cannot know anything, especially God, if God does not permit us to know Him. But, I ramble. Anyway, good stuff.
Amen, amen, and amen.
Thanks for posting this. I'll read it with interest. I always thought Schaeffer was fighting the good fight.
Spare a prayer for Franky, now just crazy.
Missed this. Seems this was taught 30 years ago. Now look where we’re at.
I like Dutchboy's and your posts. I have to agree with both of you. I've read a couple of Schaeffer's work but I was never that impress with them although I couldn't put my finger on why. Your posts identifies the problems.
This excellent talk was given thirty years ago, but the problems described predate the lecture, as he states of “...the road we have walked in the last 40 years..” At that time the calamity was of a house fire, smoke billowing forth from a kitchen window. But that was 1982; this is 2013. Today there are flames shooting out of every window, soon to spread from house to house through the whole town.
The cause he supposes to be, “... merely certain people making decisions as to what is for the good of society at the given moment. - Now this is the real reason for the breakdown in morals in our country. ... Certain few people come together and decide what they arbitrarily believe is for the good of society at the given moment, and that becomes law.” There exists another explanation.
Presently there is a 2010 award winning documentary available to view on-line, which not only speaks of these ills but also shows their origin and purpose; and yes, there is a purpose. The title is Agenda: Grinding America Down at the link: vimeo.com/52009124 runs about 90 minutes. It is very well produced, although it does have that annoying (to me) background music, which seems to be the fashion.
So not to be coy, the story is told by a Utah congressman, with reference to Marx and Lenin, Gramsci and Alinski, Shaw and Wells, (no- scratch Wells), Harry Hay, Betty Friedan, Jim Wallis, and scores of useful idiots.
Alex, you may do your readers a service by posting this documentary link along with the future installments, and thank you for the many interesting articles you bring to our attention.
Perhaps it is an interesting exercise to identify more accurately than Schaeffer the links through which America's demise is being delivered, namely
"Marx and Lenin, Gramsci and Alinski, Shaw and Wells, (no- scratch Wells), Harry Hay, Betty Friedan, Jim Wallis, and scores of useful idiots."
but it continues to place the focus on men. The Scriptures, however, make it plain that if it comes God has authored this trail of destruction for the nation. It is He who grinds America Down. It seems Paul continuously returned his audiences to this severe fact so that they never lost sight of their real dilemma: If God does not decide to rescue a man, he has no hope.
I would agree with the exception that I don't believe this is just an America phenomenon. This is happening on a global scale with places like Africa, Indonesia, Europe, Asia, etc all in decline of moral values, and the hostility towards God and Christianity growing more each day. There clearly is a hardening of the heart and we must attribute this to God withdrawing His hand of grace.
I realize that for centuries people have stated that Christ is returning. And while no man knows the day, I think it is a bit naive not to recognize how close this really is given the world's complete and utter rejection of His Son. We are very fast approaching the days of Noah IMO. And the signs are all there.
I believe there are direct parallels to the church and the nation of Israel. They lasted about 2100 years.
Certainly you are right, this is a worldwide phenomena. And, you have brought the discussion to a critical point. Are these kind of events the result of, "...God withdrawing His hand of grace." and then man backfilling with a rebellion/disobedience of his own design or are these events the result of, "...God withdrawing His hand of grace" and then God sending a deluding influence to bring about the decay and destruction. These are two distinct positions and I, perhaps wrongly, sensed that Daffy's video was leaning toward the first (with a new cast of players).
While it may be tempting to say "both", the law of the excluded middle eliminates this is as a possibility. Either God is managing all of His universe (and all events) or there are wills taking over where His leaves off. Irrespective of appearances, I believe the Scriptures are clear which way it is.
Schaeffer, although Reformed in name, often (the way many intellectuals do) leaves his reader/listener with the impression that many nearly co-equal forces are at work in the universe. Perhaps it is my jealous inferiority speaking, but my experience is that intellectuals tend to elevate their influence beyond that which the Scripture allows. If the king's heart is turned by God like channels of water and every throw of the dice is determined by God, our Gospel likely ought to include a repeated diminishment of man and his ego.
To some extent this is issue is different than whether we are approaching the end of time. On that point, I believe you are correct...and God is effecting every nuance.
Hmmmm...I've never thought about whether man backfills with a rebellious spirit or God is sending a deluding influence. Scripture shows that both are often the case. In the days of Noah God would no longer strive against man-clearly an indication of the first situation. But yet there are times when God influenced the situation such with Ahab or Pharoah. How God works is left to a divine mystery.
Interesting; thanks for the point of view.
Perhaps it appears as though this matter lies in the same "mystery" department as "Where does the universe end?", or "What were the Nephilim?", etc., but I believe this is one of those matters which is in fact disclosed in the Book.
It, of course, returns to the ever-troubling matter of whether there exists such a thing as "free-will" in any being except God Himself. If one is persuaded that the Bible teaches that there is such a thing, then it would follow that this matter is a mystery and that certainly the Noahic episode is evidence of this.
However, if one is persuaded that the Bible does not teach that men are "free", but rather God manages all things, then it would follow that God, alone, is the scripter of all events of the universe, all actions of history, and all matters which transpire. As you might suspect, I find this latter perspective all over the Scriptures.
What to make of God's calls for man to "decide" something? This is of course simply the Author writing into the script a situtaion wherein a character is told to decide. The outcome, however, is always determined, always planned, always the exact expectation (even the work) of the Author. This is how the Father arranged for the Son to be executed according to His, "foreknowledge and pre-determined plan". He knew it was a necessary part of the drama to save us from ourselves (and hell, too, of course).
Hundreds of seeming "free events" are pictured in the Scriptures, only to be later revealed as completely controlled by God. Even God's call to Adam, "Where are you?" was not actually a request for Adam to fill God in on something He did not know, but rather just a part of the script displaying the renegade nature of man running off from His Maker. All things are occurring exactly as determined by our Lord. Perhaps this seems Hyper-Calvinistic; so be it. The Book tells us this is the case.
You are most correct that God guides and directs the affairs of man. My statement I suppose lies in how He brings that about. I suspect that sometimes He uses demonic forces to move us into accomplishing His will. Other times He understands our nature so well that He can effect His plan just by knowing what we'll do. Probably the most famous case of these two examples is Adam and Eve. Certainly God put the tree and the serpent in the garden and then issued the command. The serpent deceived Eve into sinning and falling. Yet, there was no serpent to tempt Adam. Only the lust of his own heart which gave way to sin. God knew which direction he would go and He created the circumstance. But more important He had to show Adam what he was actually like. It wouldn't have done any good if Adam was deceived for then he would never know that he would trade Paradise over a piece of fruit.
God used two different methods to accomplish this outcome. It was clearly within God's will that both would fall-yet they fell in different ways. But, as scripture teaches us, Adam's fall was the greatest of all. Had he not been presented with this choice, we would never have know our rebellious nature or the love of God to want to reconcile His elect to Himself.
To speak to your point Harley, I wonder what would be the point of God creating a universe of puppets? I tend to believe that the overall arch of the "story" is guided to God's purposes. For example: an apostle would betray Jesus. Perhaps it wasn't pre-determined to be Judas, but something about Judas made him the most succeptible to give in to that temptation?
I hesitate to go so far as to say we can "surprise" God, or thwart his will. But unless we can choose and act with some independence, I don't understand why God would spend all this time and energy with us.
And that is EXACTLY the point. We DO choose to act with independence. We just consistently choose NOT to do the things that God would want us to do. And to do anything that God doesn't want is sinful. All God did was to show us this characteristic.
We would act like "puppets" if God created us to purposely fall. What more, God would purposely know that billions of people would be cast into hellfire just because of a test that He devised. This isn't correct theology.
The tree wasn't a "test" because God does not tempt us beyond what we are able. Rather the tree was placed there by God so that it would reveal to us what we were really like. Like Enoch, we would sell our birthright for a meal. Like Adam, he sold Paradise for some fruit. God designed us and ordain that we understand our nature of wandering-our desire to be independent from God. By this we can also understand His grace so that we may come back to the shadow of His wing and be dependent on Him.