|"Remember your leaders..." ~ Heb 13:7|
Over these very short six years, we have been blessed to be well received by many scholars and laypersons, and those generally mindful of Dr. Schaeffer's thought. Often, those who have been so kind as to compliment our work, are in fact are to us mentors in Dr. Schaeffer's thought, those who carry forward his thought in advances through their own ministry. We do not take this for granted and it is something that we deeply cherish. We strive to work in such a way that lets Dr. Schaeffer's thought speak for itself and try not to get in the way or self promote. Our desire has been to "take the lesser place" and simply serve in whatever way God might allow. It has been amazing to watch as various avenues have opened and even redirected before us. We are always working to provide a better service and to make advances through better technical and scholarly endeavors. This is our hope for the future.
We must say however, that sharing the thought of Francis Schaeffer has not always been as easy as just posting a quote or two from him on social media. A lot of time, planning and forethought regularly goes into the work that we are doing. The initial challenges come with respecting the legacy of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, their family, and their ministry, which continues through L'Abri Fellowship to this day. There are also various Schaeffer-related ministries, cross-denominational and cross-discipline dynamics which include various intramural debates to be mindful of. With every post, video, class and discussion, all of this needs to be considered, respected, and navigated with prayer and joy of service.
Yet, it should also be mentioned that one of the most challenging task is not so much the intramural navigation that must be done, but specifically the handicaps of the Evangelical Christian culture. One of the most common questions, which sometimes comes as an accusation, is why we would be talking about Francis Schaeffer and not exclusively Jesus. In academic and seminary circles, Godly leaders are regularly remembered through historical societies, institutes and centers, but for some in the broader general Evangelical Christian culture, this can seem quite foreign. We regularly face surprisingly questions, as to some, what we are doing might as well be akin to some kind of idolatry. This of course could not be further from the truth. For this reason, we regularly have to be careful to explain the purpose of our work. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a bit tiring when we encounter those who don't understand. Yet, thankfully, we are not without ample Biblical recourse. We did not just come up with this idea of ourselves. My first response when people make any such inquiry is to quote Scripture to them. The following is our guiding verse:
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7 ESV)When given in response, this can be a bit of a "shut down" verse as I have had people fall utterly silent when I quote it, as if they were thinking, "I didn't know that was in there!" We take very serious the question of idolatry, as no doubt, throughout Scripture and church history this has been a pitfall. Yet, on the other hand, we as a church cannot ignore the voices of those that God has given in our history to help us correct it's course. Francis Schaeffer is one of those very specific voices. So let it be clear, ultimately, we are doing this because Scripture commands it. Plain and simple. It should be understood that while there are many scholars and authors that we might appeal to from history, whom we might gather knowledge and encouragement from, Schaeffer's position is unique in that very few others speak to our current cultural position of living is a post-Christian culture with such relevance. Likewise, when one encounters those who are speaking effectively today in this context, very often they were heavily influenced by Dr. Schaeffer. We would never suggest that Dr. Schaeffer is the only voice or even the most superior voice, but rather we would say that he is a very worthwhile and important voice that God provided for our time who is still extremely relevant today.
A study of Dr. Schaeffer and his thought reveal that he is a solid truthful voice. His views of spirituality and culture alone are simply revolutionary and can thoroughly help us. Dr. Schaeffer was not about teaching something new, but rather he was about translating historical Christianity into the current cultural context in which we reside. We ourselves try to emulate this, as we have learned it from him. This is what made his teaching so revolutionary. I regularly quote Dr. Little, as I think he sums it up better than I have heard anyone else say it.
Schaeffer is not an icon to be venerated, but a Christian scholar evangelist of exceptional cloth from whom we can learn much in or passion to reach the nations for Christ. ~ Dr. Bruce A Little, Custodian of the Francis Schaeffer Collection at Southeastern Baptist Theological SeminaryAs a church we need to consider the effects of our culture upon us. Our culture teaches us to always seek something new and that those things which are old are outdated and not worth our consideration. It also conditions us to think that thought is arbitrary and disposable and relative. When we adopt such concepts we diverge from not only Scripture and it's doctrinal heritage, but we also marginalize the historical voices God has given to aid us in our own time and in previous generations. We need to remember that we forget the voices of the past at our own peril. I pray we not only hear Schaeffer, but hear the call to true spirituality, cultural revival and reformation that he speaks of. Now is the time to embrace True-truth and provide loving confrontation to our culture.
As we continue on in this journey, of sharing Francis Schaeffer's thought, please hold us up in your prayers. Pray for wisdom and integrity and technical excellence. Pray that we would be true to Christ above all else. May we all consider the outcome of Dr. Schaeffer's way of life and imitate his faith only when it conforms truthfully with Scripture. May we do this not for Dr. Schaeffer's sake, but for Christ alone. Understand that Dr. Schaeffer's thought is only as valuable in as much as he might be of service to us in advancing the kingdom of Christ in our hearts, minds and total culture, as we await the perfect completion which shall only be fulfilled upon Christ return.