Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer

Vol. 5, Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man, How Should We then Live, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, A Christian Manifesto. ★★★★

All but the last book of this volume were read by me in Malumghat. Since it belonged to the Malumghat library, I decided I’d read A Christian Manifesto at home. Pollution and the Death of Man speak of Christians being seriously involved in the environmental movement since we believe the world to be created by God, and thus have a rational basis for caring for it. How Should We then Live is a short history of philosophy from the viewpoint of Schaeffer’s thesis. This set would have received a five star, except that I felt that the third book,  Whatever happened to the Human Race, which is a treatise on the pro-life movement rationale, was weakened by Dr. Koops’ chapters in the text. The book is an argument against abortion. Unfortunately, Dr. Koop assumes blindly that we should throw every ounce of technology into medicine to preserve life. As a pioneer pediatric surgeon, that is a reasonable thing to do in research but does not provide practicality when it comes to the practicing physician out of the ivory towers. Thus, he remains clueless about real life. Unfortunately, I have many families of patients with Koop’s mentality insist on maintaining medical care at all cost, since they don’t have to pay, yet really not out of concern for their loved one, since they would rarely ever lift a finger to help out. This is where the third-world model is much better, where, if a patient received medical care, the family was expected to stay in the hospital to also assist in the bedside care of the patient. The end of HSWTL was excellent in Schaeffer providing a theological basis for the pro-life movement. Unfortunately, Koop could have thought out the basis for medical economics a bit better but seemed to be more self-serving than theologically correct. A Christian Manifesto is written from a legal perspective for the Christian Legal Society and speaks about the problem of law without a Christian basis leading to anarchy or oppression. Schaeffer calls for civil disobedience when necessary, but to always remember that the laws of God always take precedent over the laws of man.
12MAY2009 Vol. 2, Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, No Final Conflict, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History, Basic Bible Studies, Art and the Bible. ★★★★

I continue on with the works of Francis Schaeffer. These books deal with either expository writings from Genesis and Joshua and argument for the absence of conflict between science and modern knowledge with Scripture, ending with simple thematic bible studies, consisting mostly of references for personal review. Art and the Bible deviate from these former themes, by focusing purely upon the world-view of art throughout history. I appreciated the art book the most. If all of these texts, Schaeffer competently defends the Scriptures as the true propositional revelation of the God who is there, without mistake or error. This, of course, goes counter to modern thought that it is only a fool who thinks that Scripture is infallible. Yet, Schaeffer, as many authors since have argued, the basis of inerrancy and infallibility is not a blind leap of faith but based partly on the failure of anyone to substantially prove that the Bible contains error. His words need to be reread in modern times, where Scripture tends to have decreasing importance, even among Christians.
07MAY2009 Vol. 1 Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, He is there and He is not Silent, Back to Freedom and Dignity ★★★★★

As with Vol. 3 &4, these are books that I have read in the past. These texts are the most seminal statements of Schaeffer, the books that led to his rise to fame. During the late ’60s, and early ’70s when student revolts were happening on all the campuses, Francis Schaeffer was also heavily discussed by many intellectuals. I had read these books during that time period, though I confess that they seemed to be a  little challenging to understand. I it is comforting to know that they are now somewhat light reading. I have thoroughly enjoyed re-reading these texts because I can now see them in a much broader light. They remain significant and true to philosophical principles. I find several issues though of concern. 1) Schaeffer often makes broad statements that are not well backed up, such as Kierkegaard being the father of secular existentialism. He’s probably right, but he never discusses anything from Kierkegaard’s writings that would substantiate that claim. There are numerous other examples that I will spare the reader 2) Schaeffer’s focus tends to be limited to general philosophy and art. He also discusses other cultural activities such as music and literature, both of which I think he could have done a much better job at, and would have better supported his general thesis. Both the discussion of music and literature left out many vitally important artists and writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, manifesting the “leap to despair” that typifies modern man. I’m surprised that he spends so little time on the scholars of linguistic analysis, and leaves out important characters such as Chomsky and Jacques Derrida, while very briefly discussing Foucault in a highly oblique fashion. All in all, these books are truly great works. Schaeffer has deeply affected many people, myself included. I only wish that his untimely death could have been a bit later, in order to see how he would have engaged the modern world. Perhaps it is best. Schaeffer probably would have been frustrated by the fact that students no longer ask deep, important, probing questions. They are content to live in their upper story world without ever being disturbed about the philosophical inconsistencies of their fantasy world, with the real world about them. Having started college at the end of the student revolutions, several teachers lamented the fact that students were more worried about getting good grades, than demanding answers to the harder philosophical inconsistencies of life. Those of us that continue to think about the serious metaphysical, ethical, and epistemological questions of life will soon be dinosaurs.
01MAY2009 Vol. 4 Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, The Church Before the Watching World, The Mark of the Christian, Death in the City ★★★★★

As with Vol. 3, these are books that I have read in the past. Now that I know more about the particular history of Francis Schaeffer, these books seem to make more sense. In the first book, Schaeffer speaks of the student revolutions of the 1960s and the philosophical changes that affected thinking even in the church. Schaeffer goes to length in talking about how the church should respond, by speaking truth as truth, and by showing a community of love for each other. The second book delves deeper into the changes in the church, including evangelical churches, that have been affected by theological liberalism. He discusses the case of the Presbyterian church as to what has been done right and wrong in the church. Specifically, the emphasis is on a tough balance between not wavering in our theology, and yet showing love for each other and the world at large. The Mark of the Christian addresses particularly the importance of Christians as a community showing love to each other. The last book, Death in the City, studies the situation in Jeremiah’s time, as reflective of the church and society today, i.e., both situations being “post-Christian”. He then delves into a study of the first several chapters of Romans and suggests the response of the church is a return to belief in God as a God that is real, and not a leap in the dark thing that we interact with only on coming to faith and at death.
27APR2009 Vol. 3 Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, No Little People, True Spirituality, The New Superspirituality, Two Contents, Two Realities ★★★★

It’s been 30 years or more since I last read these books, which came out in the early 1970s. I had owned the Complete Works, but they collected dust on my bookshelf. Now, after having read all of the books that I brought along with me, I discovered these works in the Malumghat Guest House library, apparently with Viggo Olsens’ name in the front. They looked like they had been read 0-1 times. Vol. 1 contains Schaeffer’s most distinct works, but I decided to attack vol. 3 & 4 first. Rather than do individual book reports on each book in the volume, I felt it best to do blanket summaries. This volume relates to a Christian view of spirituality. No Little People is a set of sermons that Schaeffer gave preaching through the Scriptures on various people of Scripture, like, Joseph, David, Elijah, and Christ himself, to name a few. The point was the significance of all people who trust in Christ. True Spirituality comes in two sections, the first is essentially a fast review of basic theology, and the second relates to the application of theology to the Christian view of self (psychology), others, and the church. TNS spoke about trends in the 1970s on the religious scene that were considered advancements, such as the new Pentecostalism and new forms of legalism that really were not Christian at all on the final analysis. The last book, TCTR was a speech that Schaeffer gave detailing four issues that Christians must focus on, including 1. correct doctrine, 2. honest answers to honest questions, 3. true spirituality, and 4. human relations in Christ’s love. Most of what Schaeffer says remains contemporary, in that we continue as Christians to not walk the walk or talk the talk, and our Christianity remains in our own style and invention. His is a plea to return to biblical Christianity.