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.
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.
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.