|Newly Acquired Press Photo|
This is a photo of Francis Schaeffer giving a keynote address at the "Congress on the Bible," which met in San Diego March 3-6, 1982. The event was sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. According to the inscription, "Schaeffer strongly affirmed the importance of Christians' holding to confidence in the complete trustworthiness of the Bible. He added, however, that they must also be willing to accept the Bible's authority in all areas of their lives."
The picture is a wonderful glimpse into the history of Schaeffer's speaking career. It is a 5X7 black and white photo, and here he is pictured with his glasses and an ascot with his trademark chin-beard.
The conference itself was a "convocation concerned with the power of God's inerrant Word: God's Word affirmed, understood and applied in such a way that the individual, the Church, the community and the world will be transformed." according to the ICBI information on the event.
The content of Schaeffer's lecture entitled What Difference Does Inerrancy Make? can now be found in volume 4 of Schaeffer's complete works as Appendix B to The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century.
Schaeffer was one of the first major and popular Christian teachers to raise awareness on the need for a more public response affirming Biblical Inerrancy. Jason and I spoke with Dr. Norman Geisler, who was on the advisory board with others such as R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, Greg Bahnsen, at the last ISCA conference where he affirmed as much, crediting Schaeffer's influence on Biblical Inerrancy and apologetics. Both ICBI and ISCA and The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which Schaeffer signed along with Packer, Boice, Sproul and Henry to name a few, owe a debt to Schaeffer's influence. Schaeffer's ability to bring into the forefront of discussion for the "man on the street" the deeply important concepts around vital issues such as Biblical Inerrancy, has had significant results that are still being felt today. Furthermore, this picture shows that Schaeffer was not consumed with merely politics in the latter years of his life, but that he was working on multiple fronts with many, many others to try to halt, or at least postpone the monolithic advancement of secular humanist thought in our culture.
Yet, we should see something else when we look at this picture. We should see a "real" human being, not one built up by hype or accolades, but one with frailty, but nevertheless drive. Schaeffer was diagnosed with cancer in 1978, by 1982 when this picture was taken, the greater health struggles were already apparent and upon him. Edith notes in her Family Letters (See: Dear Family, pg 339) that Fran was already feeling heavy fatigue in the fall of 1981 where he was regularly speaking and wrapping up writing on A Christian Manifesto. Fran was further wrapping up his writing career and was preparing to release or had already released his Complete Works in 1982 which would only be followed by a publication of a speech he made in Washington D.C. in May of 1982 (almost two years exactly before his death), published in 1983 with other contributors as Who Is For Peace? and his final work The Great Evangelical Disaster published in 1984. Several other works would be published in different forms posthumously (Who is for Peace, The Trilogy, The Finished Work of Christ and Corruption vs. True Spirituality... see our "Works Spreadsheet" for more information on these).
Schaeffer knew he was making a significant contribution in an important time and knew very well his time was nearly up. David Malone of Wheaton College mentions that "Schaeffer felt that he had accomplished more in the last five years of his life than he had in all the years before he had cancer." One can only speculate that the cancer became just another form of fuel for him, to further do and say what God had called him to. When one is confronted with a life or death experience, very often what results is a clarity about what is really important (I mention this from experience). In the end, what I see in this photo is simply a thoughtful man speaking with conviction. Just what you might expect to see of a man like Schaeffer, and that to me, says it all. However, it makes me ask myself a question... "What would you do if you knew your time was limited?"