Saturday, February 16, 2013
SCHAEFFER 101 - #1 True Spirituality
His work entitled "True Spirituality" explores the very basics of Christian spirituality to more significant aspects of Christian living and practice. Yet what is most significant is that when we read the singular work in the context of his collective works we begin to understand how far reaching the concept is. It is not that Schaeffer is just laying out an isolated concept of spiritual practice but a basis for a living a personal, relational and cultural organic apologetic. In simple words, he is applying the historic Christian position on spirituality against the prevailing secular worldview.
Born Out of Crisis
The best dating perhaps in light of Schaeffer's articles and history is perhaps 1948 to early 1951. One thing seems to be clear and that is that during the early winter months of 1951, Schaeffer would begin to go through the pinnacle of his spiritual crisis. As a result of this crisis, Schaeffer recognized that something was deeply wrong and he carefully reconsidered his Christian commitment and the priorities of life. By June of that year in an issue of The Sunday School Times carried Schaeffer’s article entitled, “The Secret of Power and the Enjoyment of the Lord” which would begin to indicate the spirituality born out of Schaeffer’s spiritual struggles. When reading this work one can see elements of both The Mark Of A Christian as well as various thoughts that are now found in True Spirituality. It is important to note the connection between these two works. Schaeffer often described his works as a wheel with True Spirituality at the center. However, it is quite conceivable that the concepts conveyed so strongly in The Mark of a Christian and the earlier The Secret of Power and the Enjoyment of the Lord which focus so heavily on the proper balance of truth and love indicate to us that the concept itself is perhaps the axle on which that wheel rest.
Origins of Writings
Much of Schaeffer’s personal tension in spirituality was over the matter of what he calls “reality.” He had seen so much ugliness, both in life, the struggle against Liberalism, and the separatist movement, which had left him cold. He was not seeing the “reality” of the Christian life or it’s practical application for everyday life.
Out of Schaeffer's findings came his general realization focused on the nature of the teachings of scripture as “True-Truth,” touching every aspect of life, and loving God enough not to covet against Him and one’s neighbor. His prescription for spirituality is realized in the concept of a real “moment-by-moment” relationship with God that produces substantial healing in relationships and champions the life of prayer. Note that his "moment-by-moment" spirituality is in direct contrast to Existentialism's emphasis on living in the moment to define one's own existence. Rather, Schaeffer is taking the truth of the notion of living in the moment but correcting it to it's earlier Biblical understanding of living before the God who is there, before a watching world, praying without ceasing and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ in the ongoing relational aspect of sanctification. He champions the idea of substantial victory in this life, not exhaustive, but substantial victory in relationships, our church, our government and total culture. The Lordship of Christ in the whole of life.
This is why I often say that Schaeffer has constantly and consistently led me in his writings to be bowed before the feet of Christ. Very few writers have inspired as much devotion in the whole of my person and as many areas of life to Christ Lordship as Schaeffer. This very fact alone is the most significant reason why we do this. We are exceedingly thankful.