The Francis Schaeffer Collection - The L. Rush Bush Center for Faith & Culture The Schaeffer Legacy Project - An Interview With Dr. David Calhoun of Covenant Theological Seminary True Spirituality Class Francis Schaeffer at International Congress of World Evangelism, Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1974 Whatever Happened To The Human Race? - Playlist The Mark of A Christian Class - Playlist The Question of Apologetics A Christian Manifesto - Playlist

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Edith Schaeffer
Photo by Mustapha Ashrad
 “How I hope we may have many years of service together, and finally entrance together into eternity.” ~ Francis Schaeffer to his wife Edith, 1935.

As we reflect on the passing of Edith Schaeffer, who went to be with the Lord in the early hours of March 30th, 2013, it is worthwhile to note the events of her life to get a sense of who she was. It is a most distinct providence that guided such a couple as her and Francis together. Both whom were avid defenders of the faith, who were passionate about people and truth. Yet, as we reflect, consider the story, but also consider Edith's passion. She was passionate for Christ, for ministry, for children, and especially her dear husband "Fran" whom she loved and served with side-by-side for so many years.

1914 - “Edith Rachel Merritt Seville was born in Wenchow, China on November 3. [1]” She was the fourth child of missionaries, George Hugh Seville and Jessie Maude Merritt Seville. [2] They served in what was formerly known as the China Inland Mission, founded by Hudson Taylor. Edith had a wonderful family Christian heritage and was well educated and highly artistic and loved the arts greatly. She and her family had tried to learn Chinese culture and even adopted some Chinese dress. Edith was known as Mei Fuh during their time in China. Edith notes in her children’s book by the same title that because of the time difference, her birth was recorded officially a day earlier in the United States as November the 2nd. [3]

1920 - Edith’s family would move back to the states when she was six years old. When her family relocated to Germantown, she began attending Germantown High School (Fran's former school) in her senior year. [4]

1932 - Fran met his future wife on June 26 at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania in the defense of the faith. Edith had just graduated from Germantown High School [5]. Fran had just returned home from college. They both were at a Young People’s meeting, where a former member, now a member of the Unitarian church, was lecturing on the topic, “How I know that Jesus is not the Son of God, and how I know that the Bible is not the Word of God.” During the lecture, Edith jumped up and began to make a reply, when across the room Fran, who was already standing began to speak. Edith sat back down and listened in amazement. Edith asked her friends, “Who’s that boy?” She was not aware of anyone in the church who knew any replies against Modernism. Edith soon rose to make her points, quoting from J. Gresham Machen, and Robert D. Wilson. of Westminster Theological Seminary nearby. Schaeffer likewise asked his friend, “Who’s that girl?” Fran was impressed and was not aware that anyone attending the church was familiar with Old Princeton Apologetics (In fact, Edith would first introduce Fran to J. Gresham Machen’s book, Christianity and Liberalism early in their friendship). Thereafter, Francis would ask Edith if he could walk her home, to which Edith replied, "I have a date." Schaeffer looked at her calmly and simply said, "Break it!" Thus began their life together as defenders of the faith. [5]

Edith would go on to enter Beaver College [6] for a degree in home economics that same year. Edith was highly trained in foods, dietetics, dressmaking, interior decorating, and art appreciation. All of which she would put to good use eventually at L’Abri.

1935 - Francis Graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in June and graduated second in his senior class, magna cum laude. [7]

Fran & Edith's Wedding
July 6, 1936
Francis and Edith would be married on July 6th. They were married at Wayne Avenue United Presbyterian Church, by Edith’s father George Seville. Fran was twenty-three and Edith was twenty. Fran and Edith saw their relationship as rooted in ministry. He remarked to Edith in a letter, this wonderful thought: “How I hope we may have many years of service together, and finally entrance together into eternity.” [8] They would spend their honeymoon working at a Christian camp. Immediately, they would discover that they contrast each other, as Fran was intense, passionate and sometimes overly driven, while Edith could be romantic and idealistic and prone to flighty thoughts of the ideal. Yet they would also discover that they complemented each other as well. Edith was cultural and refined, gifted in the formal aspects of hospitality and Fran took great interest in personal relationships, and they both grew to have strongly convictions about the personal aspects of hospitality. Both of them stood passionately together for Biblical Truth against Liberalism and where avid readers, and eventually would be great writers, speakers and teachers.

Fran would enter Westminster Theological Seminary in September of that year.  Edith discontinued her education at Beaver College only completing 3 of the 4 years, to support Fran in seminary, but it was no passive support. She was very purposeful and took time to share everything with him. She made him lunches, but she also made a second, and tried to eat at the same time he ate so that she could be aware of how hungry he might be when he came home. She studied alongside Fran and received a seminary education right along with him from home. She stayed up late with him and shared in the discoveries of theology and philosophy, and learned some of the Greek and Hebrew words he was studying (although Fran needed a considerable amount of time alone studying Hebrew due to his battle with dyslexia). She learned the faculty names and took great interest in the happenings of the seminary. During the day she worked from home as a leather-worker and seamstress working on numerous projects. Fran had received a small grant from Westminster, but Edith was the primary source of income during this time.

1938 - Fran Graduated from Faith Theological Seminary on Willmington, Delaware [10]. “Francis is ordained as the first pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church denomination. Francis began serving as senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Grove City, Pennsylvania. [11]”

The Schaeffers started a large Summer Bible School program that grew and grew. These were formative years in the ministry work of Fran and Edith. Fran persistence and tenacity are well noted, he once squeezed twenty-one boys into a car! Edith’s creativity, on the other hand, broadened the programs available for the summer school. Francis regularly made house calls to every member of the church as well as many of the parents of the children that attended the Summer Bible School.

1943 - After serving as an associate pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Chester, Pennsylvania (1941), God would lead the Schaeffer's to pastor a church in the Midwest. “Francis began serving as the senior pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. [11]” The Schaeffer’s picked up where they left off as senior pastors at their first church, creating and establishing ministry with a particular emphasis on children and youth. Several months after arrival, the Schaeffers founded Children For Christ which in a very short time would develop into an international ministry. All of this was based on their earlier work with children in Grove City.

As we consider the early story of the life of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, we can see the youthful passion that they had for both beauty and truth. Edith the creative, and Francis the strong teacher. They were young, idealistic, and full of life. They realized very quickly as a young couple that there were limitations in each other. Yet they learned also that God had given them gifts, that they could use, and that complimented each other. They did not yet know how God would use all of them, but they applied their gifts in each new setting and grew together through good times and tough ones. They felt in many ways like they were on an escalator, quickly moving forward in greater service together. They had just began to settle in toward a long term ministry, and the future looked stable and bright. Edith envisioned a life for them in the home where they lived in St. Louis. It was beautiful, and conventional. But in a five short years their idealism would be tested by living in a fallen world, impacted by a post-war climate of hurt and needs. They would be asked to reconsider the nature of Truth, and the nature of beauty in a quest to find answers to the question of “reality.”

1947 - Fran was asked to travel throughout Europe for three months to evaluate the state of the church in Europe as a representative of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and as the American Secretary for the Foreign Relations Department of the American Council of Christian Churches. Schaeffer toured 31 cities (many more than once), in 13 countries in just 90 days. He slept in 56 different places in that period of time. This trip was both incredibly stimulating and yet deeply exhausting touring in war-torn Europe, just two years after the war, which was still under rationing and with many travel restrictions and a broken infrastructure. It was both psychologically and physically draining on him. The highs and the lows of the events during his travels would catch up to Schaeffer when he got home and he would experience a bout of what some have described as depression and fatigue that fully immobilized him. Edith, carefully nursed him back to health. Edith believed that he was in many ways just short of an absolute physical and mental collapse. She was a solid strength in Fran's life and was his consummate helper, friend and source of encouragement.

This trip would result in them being called by the missions board to be missionaries to Europe, with the specific calling to, “strengthen that which remains.” They would have a particular emphasis on spreading their work of Children For Christ there.

1948 - The Schaeffers move to Lausanne, Switzerland with their three daughters to be missionaries to Europe. Their primary work involved their Children for Christ ministry, and helping with the formation of the International Council of Christian Churches. Their first home would be the Chalet Bijou. Eventually their prayers would be answered to stay in Champery and they would move to Chalet des Frenes. [12]

1951 During the early winter months, Fran would begin to go through a spiritual crisis. Edith would prayerfully support her husband as she always had and in this time with much prayer. As a result of this crisis, Schaeffer recognized that something was deeply wrong and he carefully reconsidered his Christian commitment and the concepts of truth and reality. Schaeffer emerged from this experience with a new certainty about his faith in True-Truth, and a new emphasis on sanctification and the work of the Holy Spirit, and a new direction in his life which would unfold over the next four years. 

Edith’s Begins Writing Her “Family Letters” - Edith begins to write her letters in August. [13] These were sort of a family newsletter that recounted what they were going through and the various happenings. They were not filled with promotional or advertising content, but just family news. Edith was a wonderful and honest writer. She was the other voice of L’Abri, and it is very easy to fall in love with her wonderful creative spirit. People connected with her words, and attitude of prayer. God used these letters in many ways to work through His people miraculously and naturally in a very organic way. People would often give timely gifts that were direct answers to prayer, and very often they did not even know the need. As Edith wrote their story, people responded not out of compulsion, but out of the good of their heart in both prayer and giving.

1953-54  - The Schaeffers return to the US with family on furlough, and Fran began an extensive speaking and traveling schedule. Schaeffer traveled across the country speaking 346 times during 515 days, sometimes three times a day, about the deeper spiritual life. 

As the family returned to Champery, Switzerland in September. It was on the deck of the of the USS Ile de France that Francis first told Edith of the desire to use the word "L’Abri," for their ministry and thought of changing the name of their chalet in Champery. [14]

1955 - In the following year, on February 14 the Schaeffer received notice from the Swiss government on that they must leave Switzerland permanently within six weeks for their “religious influence” in the Catholic canton. Each Swiss canton are member states within the federal state of Switzerland. The word canton is a French word that more literally means “corner” or “district.” The Schaeffers were at this time living in the Roman Catholic bishopric of Valais.

The Schaeffers, by April 1st would move out of this canton and into another. Their new home would be Chalet Les Melezes in Huemoz, Switzerland. God brought about a series of miraculous circumstances which would open the way for a new beginning in ministry. The circumstances that surrounded this event are numerous and amazing all recounted in Edith's book entitled L'Abri. Edith's strong faith and conviction in the matter proved to open the door to the new location, as at just the right time God would provide both the location as well as the provision through a gift in the mail to start L'Abri.

Edith’s March 7-9th family letter makes the official announcement of the work of L’Abri. “L’Abri is what we feel the Lord would have us add to the work He had given us here in Switzerland. L’Abri means “shelter” in French, and our thought is to have a spiritual shelter for any who have spiritual need. [15]”

In her May 30th family letter, written just after they had completed their move into Chalet les Melezes, Edith remarks, “And so literally L’Abri began in Chalet les Melezes immediately upon our arrival--with a German musician, a Swiss peasant, and an English ex-Wren and ex-nurse for our first guest.

The Schaeffers officially resigned from the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions on June 4, marking the final commitment to L'Abri Fellowship.

1955 - Following the resignation, in her June 17th letter, Edith explains in a bit more detail how L’Abri will operate. “And so we face a busy summer as L’Abri Fellowship begins, and such a thing as a vacation must be put off again. But the Lord is sending those who need a time in L’Abri, and he can just as easily provide an opening for a vacation when He knows it is necessary.  
       There are a few things you should know about L’Abri Fellowship. The material needs of the work, and ourselves, will be met as the Lord sends in gifts in answer to prayer. We believe that if He sends the people to us who need to be here for study and asking questions and prayer, He will also send in the means to feed them.” Edith goes on to explain the garden and matters with the appliances, the states, “Each need will be prayed about and we will wait for guidance to proceed according to His specific answers in sending the means.
Finally, and most important--L’Abri Fellowship may seem very small--but we know there are many who are having a daily part in the work here through your faithful prayers. The ones who are working here through prayer we wish to speak of as the Praying Family of L’Abri. You yourself know whether you are one whom the Lord has joined to us in this way or not. May L’Abri truly be a shelter in a weary land for those who will find Christ their shelter here. [16]”

Edith clarifies in her work L’Abri that L'Abri Fellowship became official in July when her father, Dr. George H. Seville, former missionary to China with the China Inland Mission took on the work of creating a home office in the states for them. He had just retired from his teaching position at a theological school and wanted to work as their “home secretary” as his contribution to the work of L’Abri. While he assumed legal roles and the handling and sending of gifts, Edith’s mother duplicated and mailed the family letters to their family. These letters, with family members in mind would become “Dear Family” and would grow as God brought people to follow the work of their ministry. [17]

1959In November of 1959 a journalist from Time magazine, showed up at L’Abri, who had been tipped off by a journalist parent who had a daughter in school with Deborah Schaeffer. The following day a photographer would also drop in to shoot the photographs.

1960 - The Time magazine article was published entitled “Mission to Intellectuals” in the January 11th publication.[18]

1964 -  It was about this time that Betty Carlson is convinced that the Lord is leading her to give a month’s wages to send Edith away to write the story of L’Abri. [19] Edith in fact does write her book on L’Abri. It however sits as a completed manuscript under the Schaeffer’s bed for the next five years! During which time Betty remained confident that it would be published at the right time. [20] 

Probably one of the first converts from the reading of the book, and in this instance, in it’s pre-published state, was Larry Snyder, future leader of the Rochester branch, who ran the branch with his wife Nancy. Larry and Nancy have now since retired. Larry came to L’Abri searching for answers when he met a person in a youth hostel in Europe who that told him, that he seemed confused and that L’Abri was a place he could go to get his questions answered.[21] Many others in Larry’s situation would find their way to L’Abri under similar circumstances. Larry was quite intent on finding answers and immediately inquired about them. As Edith describes it, as soon as he had heard the person say L’Abri, he felt driven to go there, and began working in order to do so. Finally, he arrived late one night on his motorcycle and wanted to know all that he could so that he could start studying the next day. Edith apparently saw how intent he was and let him read her manuscript. He read it that night and started study at the Farel house the next day. Although Larry noticed something happening, he could not quite grasp it yet, and he was not an immediate convert. Larry would have further discussion with Dr. Schaeffer, in which he told him flatly that he did not want to discuss his God or his religion. Yet much to his surprise, Francis did not see that as the end of the conversation, but rather encouraged him to stay and keep asking his questions. Edith notes, “As time went on, Larry became an understanding Christian and the problems he had in philosophic areas and areas of doctrine cleared up. He not only studied hard, he was an outstanding help...” During his time as a L’Abri worker he would become convinced that he was being led into further Christian ministry. He would leave in the following summer for Covenant Seminary.

1968 - Fran's first books, Escape From Reason and The God Who Is There are published.

1969 - Edith publishes her first book, L'Abri.
Fancis and Edith saw L'Abri as a witness of living by faith and prayer before the watching world. Their work was always seen as being in tandem. Here Edith sets out to chronicle the early history of L'Abri. Edith here writes a very personal and "real" work that recounts the history of L'Abri thus far. It is a testimony of the hand of God at work in their lives "before a watching world" as thousands of visitors journey to their house from all over the world.

As we mentioned before, L’Abri had actually been written five years earlier. Betty Carlson gave Edith a gift which allowed her to get away for a time and write the work. The manuscript would sit under the Schaeffer’s bed, until Francis published his first books. The timing of the printing would allow the book to become very popular along with Francis’ books.

1969-2000 - Edith would go on to publish 20 books, and her works would be popular in their own right, with a unique and endearing writing style. Perhaps her most notable works are L'Abri, The Tapestry, Hidden Art, and Affliction.  These last two books won her the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (in 1979 and 1982 respectively).

1984 - Fran and Edith had relocated to Rochester, MN for Fran to receive treatment. From there she continued a busy speaking schedule and wrote further books.

[READ THIS SPECIAL SEGMENT FROM RANALD MACAULAY for more information on this time period.]

2000 - Edith moved to Switzerland to live with her daughter Debbie and husband Udo Middleman.

2013 - Edith passes into eternity to be with Fran and her Lord Jesus. 
[1] Lane T. Dennis. The Letters of Francis Schaeffer. 
Westchester, IL, Crossway Books,1985. 25.

[2] Ibid., 29.

[3] Edith Schaeffer, Mei Fuh, Memories from China, 
Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1998.  1-2.

[4] Colin Duriez. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life. 
Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books, 2008. 29,30.

[5] Ibid., 30.

[6] Ibid., 32.

[7] Ibid., 33.

[8] Lane T. Dennis. The Letters of Francis Schaeffer. 
Westchester, IL, Crossway Books,1985. 25.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Colin Duriez. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life. 
Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books, 2008. 45.

[11] Lane T. Dennis. The Letters of Francis Schaeffer. 
Westchester, IL, Crossway Books,1985. 25.

[12]  Schaeffer, Edith. The Tapestry: The Life and Times of 
Francis and Edith Schaeffer, Waco, Tx, Word Books. 308.

[13] Schaeffer, Edith. With Love Edith. 
Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA. 1989. 5.

[14] Ibid. 402.

[15] Ibid. 308.

[16] Ibid. 332.

[17] Schaeffer, Edith. L’Abri. Tyndale House, USA. 1969. 135. 

[18] “Mission to Intelectuals,” Time, January, 11, 1960.

[19] Carlson, Betty. The Unhurried Chase that Ended at L’Abri. Good News Publishers. Westchester, IL. 1984. Forward by Edith Schaeffer.

[20] Ibid. 12.

[21] Schaeffer, Edith. Dear Family. Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA. 1989. 98-98.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


* by Jason Schaitel, Francis Schaeffer Studies Co-Founder *

   If you are a member of our Francis Schaeffer Studies Facebook Group you might have noticed several repostings of Saturdays with Schaeffer over at Craig Hurst’s blog

   I have been following Craig Hurst’s articles and book reviews over at for several years now and have always admired his work, so I was super excited when I saw he started the Saturdays with Schaeffer series back in December 2012.  Some of you may be glad to hear that Craig also runs a series called Fridays with the Fathers where he is blogging through Schaff’s 10 volume set of The Ante-Nicene Fathers.

   I contacted Craig and asked if he would be open to partnering with Francis Schaeffer Studies and re-publishing his Saturdays with Schaeffer series through our media outlets on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. He responded positively to the idea and so we will start sharing his posts weekly. Currently Craig is in China with his wife picking up a little Chinese boy they are adopting and so Saturdays with Schaeffer is on hold for a few weeks, which gives me this opportunity to introduce everyone to Craig.

   Before Craig left for China I interviewed him so that you all can learn about him and about the Saturdays with Schaeffer series.


Tell us about yourself. What is your background and education?

I grew up in a Christian home and made a profession of faith in Christ when I was 14. During high school I had the desire for full time ministry of some sort. I went to college at Clearwater Christian College where I met my wife. After college we moved to PA to begin my MA in Theology. I have four classes left to finish which I will complete online through the seminary. In the mean time I continue to educate myself in various ways.

Tell us about your family and where you live

I have a wife of almost 10 years and three children 7 and under. We are at the tail end of adopting a little boy from China. We began our marriage in FL, moved to PA and now live in Howard City, MI. I am a city boy at heart living in a town of less than 7 thousand people with farms all around me!

How long have you been reviewing books? How did you get started with that?

Honestly I began to review books so I could get them for free! I started a blog about three years ago but only seriously started reviewing books two years ago. Over the past three years I have been able to read and reviewed more books each year. Three years ago I read 26 books and reviewed maybe 15. Last year I read 76 books and reviewed almost 50 of them. This year my goal is to read 100 books and we’ll see how many I can review.

What are a few books that stick out in your mind as the best and most influential books on your life in the past five years?

In no particular order, here are several books that have greatly impacted me. First, Creation Regained by Albert Wolters introduced me to the creation, fall, redemption and consummation reading of Scripture and totally transformed my bigger understanding of the text. Second, God’s Glory in Judgment Through Salvation by James Hamilton because it gets as close to the center of biblical theology as you can. Third, Grounded in the Gospel by Packer & Parrett as it rightly tries to restore the educational ministry of the church through the catechism. Fourth, Holiness by Grace by Bryan Chapell because he shows how we are not only saved by grace but sanctified by it as well. Finally, A Christian Manifesto by none other than Francis Schaeffer because it in he so clearly shows how one cannot have a consistent and livable worldview and society without God.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

In no particular order I like the works of D.A. Carson, John Frame, John Calvin, Carl Trueman, Alvin Plantinga, Timothy Keller, Francis Schaeffer, John Lennox, Andreas Köstenberger , Howard Hendricks, and Mark Dever.

How did you come to encounter Schaeffer? 

My first encounter was in my Western Civ. class in college. We were required to read his book How Should We Then Live? and it made a lasting impact on my thinking about cultural evaluation from a Christian perspective. The next time I picked up one of his books was about three years ago when I read A Christian Manifesto. Again I was struck by his clarity of thought and commitment to the historic Christian faith. He modeled presuppositional apologetics in the everyday areas of life, and that stuck with me.

Why did you decide to do Saturdays with Schaeffer and how did you decide that it would be his 5 volume Complete Works in one year?

Over the years I have heard some wise men say “pick a few good authors and read everything they have written”. About three years ago I picked up Schaeffer’s complete works in five volumes for about $50. Last year I finally decided to read the books but never got to it. After having looked back at all of the books I had read over the past three years I realized most of it was new and that I was lacking in the area of old books by dead guys <wink>. I counted all of the chapters there were to read and decided that I could get through them in a year if I read three a week. Having begun to read them I have realized that some of the chapters have so much good stuff that I have only read two chapters some weeks so it might take a little over a year.

What is it that you hope comes about as a result of Saturdays with Schaeffer? In your life... and in others’ lives?

I have several hopes in blogging through the books. First, I knew that writing about it would help the material make a further impact in my own life and sink in longer. Second, Schaeffer has been so influential to so many people today that I wanted to help to broaden his influence into the lives of people who might not read his books. Third, for those who have not read his books I hope that reading the summaries will spur them to pick them up and read them for themselves.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now I work from home for my dad’s business in Florida. I also serve in my local church through small groups and other opportunities. I want to finish my MA in Theology and then see where the Lord leads in terms of occupational ministry. My desire is to serve in pastoral and teaching roles in the church however that works out in God’s provision in my family’s life.

Thank you Craig, we are excited about what you are doing, and glad you are working with us at Francis Schaeffer Studies!


For those of you who are new to Francis Schaeffer Studies and want to know more about the project you can read here

Saturday, March 23, 2013


You are probably presupposing a review of Presupposing? Well, not so fast! This one requires a little information on the back story.

One of the ongoing discussions in regard to Schaeffer is the subject of Schaeffer's apologetic. Schaeffer himself formally stated that he did not believe there was one apologetic that met the needs of all people (See Appendix A to The God Who Is There). Yet he did state in The God Who Is There, after describing his approach of "taking the roof off" (which arguably depicts a presuppossitional approach) this remark:

"This, I am convinced, is the true order for our apologetics in the second half of the twentieth century for people living under the line of despair."

This entire discussion might seem rather unimportant when one considers the fruit that has came of Schaeffer's apologetic in the lives of real people. Yet there constantly seems to be a problem classifying Schaeffer, and some scholars in fact take ethical exception with him. So it therefore becomes important to continue the discussion and attempts to properly understand Schaeffer. However, I am thinking it might not be solved once and for all here today!

Not Vantilian?

Now, some people may know that Schaeffer studied his first two years of seminary at Westminister Theological Seminary under Cornelius Van Til and others, so they may quickly peg Schaeffer as a Presuppositionalist. Some who are more "purist" in the Van Til camp may object to Schaeffer being considered a VanTilian Presuppositionalist at all.  Still others may know that Van Til wrote critical letters to his former student after Schaeffer's Wheaton Lectures in 1965, and later after his books were released as well. Some further may or may not be aware that Van Til also wrote an unpublished work that critiques Schaeffer's apologetic, which he taught students at Westminister. Some may even further note that Schaeffer was both friends with J. Oliver Buswell and Cornelius Van Til, and that he was sympathetic to both. These will note Schaeffer's paper written into a debate between the two aforementioned scholars, called A Review of a Review as possible compromise. So in the least, the categorizing of Schaeffer as a Van Tilian Presuppositionalist would seem to be in question. Yet, for some, the differences between Schaeffer's method is not enough for him to be disqualified from a form of modified Presuppositionalism. For those of this opinion, innovation does not necessarily imply revisionism.

Not Presuppositional?

Now, seemingly outside the Van Til/Schaeffer discussion, there are also erroneous criticisms that accuse Schaeffer of being a Rationalist, having a system that was too mechanical, or claim that he opposed the experiential. To most of these sort of arguments we have to understand that the charges suggest significance, but really seem to "reflect a superficial and inadequate reading" of Schaeffer, to quote Bryan Follis (Truth with Love, pg. 84, ). Yet on the other hand, there are those who's analysis represent more credible, scholarly, and persuasive arguments on Schaeffer's apologetic. In these observations Schaeffer has been labeled a Verificationist, of the Empirical Apologetic Tradition, embracing a Rational Coherence approach, or a Cumulative Case method, or finally of just being an Integrationist. Moreover, all of these terms are not without crossover as well. So one thing that everyone will probably readily admit when we think about all of this, is that classifying Schaeffer has become something of an academic sport in apologetics. So while these different takes on Schaeffer are important in discussion, some substantially more than others, there is another view that might hold some significant weight as it both relates to the legitimacy of these claims of Schaeffer being "something other" than Presuppositional (or Presuppositional plus something else) and the claims that Schaeffer is not truly Presuppositional at all.

What if?

The view I am speaking of is one from the book by David Leigh called Presupposing: How to Defend the Faith - The Methods of Francis A. Schaeffer & Cornelius Van Til. For those who are not aware, David Leigh is a journalist who interviewed Dr. Schaeffer in the early 1980s and had the opportunity to ask him key questions about his apologetics in a separate Q&A time with Schaeffer as well. David Leigh has embarked on an investigation of Schaeffer and Van Til's apologetics that took him to Westminster Theological Seminary and into the archives on an exploration in the papers of Cornelius Van Til. His investigation not only touched the correspondence between the two men, but also the curriculum Van Til taught during Schaeffer's time at Westminister. The result of this journey was motivated it seems by a key question which has not been asked yet, at least not publicly to my knowledge. That question seems to me is, "What if Schaeffer was in fact following the apologetic teachings of Van Til of 1929-30 and it was Van Til's views that had changed or drifted by 1965 and not Schaeffer?"

If you are intrigued at all by this question then this book is worth the read. The two things I noticed as I picked up the book, is first, that it is very well written and is organized in it's approach. I rather enjoyed how concise and chronological the subject matter was presented. Yet also, one gets a sense of the deeply profound respect David Leigh has for these men. He is careful and gracious to both and is not apt to shoot off unfounded accusations or launch off into polemics. He opens by sharing about his personal conversion experience and the impact of such apologetics on his own life and others. Yet thereafter, quickly moves step-by-step into explaining the views of the two men proceeding back and forth, comparing and contrasting, carefully drawing conclusions from what has been stated and building toward the end conclusion throughout.

Although, I think you can guess from what I have already said what David Leigh's view might be, you will need to read for yourself to get the exact answer. I don't want to steal anymore thunder here. Yet, my personal opinion is that Presupposing is a valuable book, that is worthy of being included in the discussion on Schaeffer's apologetic. Even if one does not agree with David Leigh's conclusion, I believe the honest reader will at least consider the evidence he presents and note the potential, if not confirmed, validity of David Leigh's analysis. Yet more than this, if one examines what he has written, Presupposing shows that he has done more academic study, and apparently has done more justice, than some of the others who have written before him on Schaeffer's apologetic. One has to wonder why this exact analysis on Van Til's curriculum has not been done before in book form, as it is long overdue. So it is with much hope for greater discussion that I recommend Presupposing.

Further Reading

For those who want to compare and contrast the differing views. I recommend reading the following along with Presupposing. If I had my wish, I would get David Leigh, William Edgar, Brian Follis and Gordon Lewis and a few of his friends in Denver, like Doug Groothuis, in a room and see if they might hammer this one out (wishful thinking maybe), but until that wish comes true, you'll have to read for yourself.

Two Christian Warriors: Cornelius Van Til andFrancis A. Schaeffer Compared by William Edgar

Truth with Love, by Bryan Follis.

Schaeffer's Apologetic Method by Gordon Lewis, which is available in the book Reflections on Francis Schaeffer edited by Ronald R Ruegsegger.


Saturday, March 16, 2013


It is already near the end of March 2013 and it is shaping up to be a very busy year. Where did the time go anyway? We are planning to use this year to catch up on a lot of the projects that have been pending for so long. However, as we continue to expand our work, the new projects keep building and sometimes the more immediate needs push back the existing projects.

Since all the work we do is done on our own free time, family comes first and we move forward as time allows. While we want to be diligent and disciplined in our pursuit, we also know that Schaeffer would recommend that we not be mechanical. So we sometimes have to stop and admit that doing everything on our mind is not humanly possible. This is one of those times.

Due to our heavy backlog we have decided to put several projects on hold, including the Schaeffer 101 project, until we can figure out how to best accomplish them or if we should even cancel them. 

The following is a list of the projects and a timeline starting from Dec. 2011  to 2013. If you are following a particular project this will be a good guide for you on the status. As we look back, even though we feel a bit behind, we are excited to see what God has done through these efforts. It always seems a bit funny to Jason and I when people tell us we are doing well, when we know the work is not quite where we want it to be, but maybe it is more what God is teaching us in those moments than how we feel. It is purely a labor of love and we hope that you have been blessed by the work.

~ Dan

Dec. 2011 - Pending Projects:
  • The Life & Works of Francis & Edith Schaeffer Class - Status: Papers Online, Re-Recording Needed (ON HOLD).
  • True Spirituality Class - Status: Papers Online, Filming Needed (ON HOLD)
  • The Wheaton Lectures Video - Status: Research is still being compiled. We hope to schedule a trip to Wheaton in the near future to film on campus.
 2012 Year Recap and Project Status:

Jan - Francis Schaeffer Centennial
     Photos - Status: Processed, Complete
     Francis Schaeffer Collection Promo Video - Status Complete, Released in Nov.
     Main Centennial Video Releases - Status: 2 video segments remain, one with substantial audio problems (ON HOLD)

Feb - L'Abri Conference
      Photos - Status: Processed, Complete
      VLOG Started - Status: (ON HOLD)
      Home Trip Video Footage (2012 Recap video) - Status: In progress.
      Spring Class Preparations - Status: Complete
Mar - Spring Class - The Mark of A Christian
      The Mark of A Christian videos - Status: 7 of 13 videos complete.

Apr - International Society of Christian Apologetics Conference 2012
     Photos - Status: Processed, Complete

May - "Speaking The Historic Christian Position" - Wheaton Lectures
      Book documentary research begins - Status: (ON HOLD)
      "Speaking The Historic Christian Position" book digitization process begins - Status: Complete, digitally imaged and OCR scan complete.

      The Francis Schaeffer Collection visit.
      Spring Class - The Mark of A Christian ends

Jun - New FSS Archive Server (Internal infrastructure) - Status: Deployed, Complete
      New video computer rebuild - Status: Complete.
      New work - Status: Partial   

     Video Released (A Centennial video) - Status Complete

Aug - Graphic goes viral "You're wrong is not equal to I hate you" graphic promotion.
      Fall Class Preparations

Sep - Fall Class - The Church Before The Watching World
      Status: Video editing on class to start in 2013.

Oct - L'Abri Day Conference on Creation
      Photos - Status: Processed, Complete
      Legacy Interview with Dick Keyes - Status: Complete
      Legacy Interview with Sylvester Jacobs - Status: Editing mostly complete, connecting with Sylvester to get needed graphics of his work before release if possible.

Nov - L'Abri Iowa Conference

      Fall Class - The Church Before The Watching World class ends.
      The Francis Schaeffer Collection 2012 Interview/Documentary Released

Dec - Reprocess of Interview with Jane Stewart Smith by Dr. Little.  - Status: Complete


Jan - Schaeffer 101 Project Announced - Status: (On Hold)
    Blooper Real Released - Status: Complete
    Stump Ian video released - Status: Complete

Feb -  L'Abri Conference Rochester
       Photos - Status: Processed, Complete

Mar - Ellis Potter Interview & Lecture Recording
       Photos - Status: Processed, Complete
       Video Work - Status: Ready for edit.

Apr - ISCA Conference
        Dan is presenting a paper on "Schaeffer and the Historic Adam." 
       (With the aid of Bill Roach.)

Other pending projects:
       2012 Recap video - Status: Mostly complete.
       Book review of "Presupposing"
       Book review of "3 Theories of everything"
       Book Review of "Schaeffer on the Christian Life"