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, January 24, 2015


During our time working on Francis Schaeffer Studies, we have explored the numerous biographies on Dr. Schaeffer. Sometimes people ask us, "What would you recommend?" We thought it would be a good to share with those of you who are interested in learning about Francis Schaeffer. So where to start?

If you are looking into the life of Francis Schaeffer, it is best to get the most qualified and accurate resources. Those beginning to read, may find that there are some authors that have written on Dr. Schaeffer, who actually seem to have read very little of his work. There are also those who have injected their own bias into the interpretation of Dr. Schaeffer's life. For this reason, we have chosen the following works, based on their accuracy, integrity and closeness to the Schaeffer story. It goes without saying, that perhaps the most significant works on the history of Francis Schaeffer, have been written by Edith Schaeffer. So, while these works, should not be forgotten, we will focus our attention on others who have written about them for this blog post. However, if you have not read Edith's L'Abri we highly recommend you do so. Also, her books The Tapestry and Dear Family, as well as With Love Edith, all explore their history at greater depth.

#5 - Francis Schaeffer, The Man and His Message, Louis Gifford Parkhurst, Jr.

This work was chosen because of Mr. Parkhurst familiarity with the Schaeffers. The author describes what he is providing as a "biographical sketch," which may not be the depth that many may be looking for in understanding Dr. Schaeffer.  Yet, what one will find very endearing about the book is the personal relationship Parkhurst describes that he had with the Schaeffers and his descriptions of their spirituality. His brief anecdotal accounts are full of value.

Mr Parkhurst became a Christian while speaking with the Schaeffers, and would serve as their pastor during the last years of Dr. Schaeffer's life. In the introduction, he mentions in passing, that he celebrated Dr. Schaeffer's last communion with him at his hospital bedside a few months before he died. 

Mr. Parkhurst also wrote two other works on the Schaeffer's, 1) Francis and Edith Schaeffer and 2) How God Teaches Us to Pray: Lessons from the Lives of Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

You can also read Dr. Groothuis' review here.

 #4 - Francis Schaeffer, Portraits of the Man and His Work, Edited by Lane T. Dennis

In this work, we find important essays on Schaeffer's life and work. So although not a chronological biography, there is an ample amount of biographical information that helps form a rounded perspective on Schaeffer, from those who knew him.

#3 - Francis Schaeffer, A Mind and Heart for God, Edited by Bruce A. Little

At the number three spot there is this wonderful newer book that was a product of a conference on Dr. Schaeffer held in 2008 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which is the home of the Francis Schaeffer Collection. Dr. Bruce A. Little is the custodian of the collection owned by The Francis Schaeffer Foundation. This book was chosen because it contains five lectures by L'Abri members and Family (Udo Middelmann, Jerram Barrs, Ranald Macaulay and Dick Keyes), who give a wonderfully insightful glimpse into Schaeffer's heart and thinking. 

#2 - Schaeffer, on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality, William Edgar

The newest work on Schaeffer is from Bill Edgar, who explores with an objective eye, the compassionate nature of Schaeffer and his spirituality. It is well worth the read as it will truly edify you.

Some of you may be familiar with Bill's work that was published in the Westminister Theological Journal, entitled, Two Christian Warriors: Cornelius Van Til and Francis A. Schaeffer Compared. As a student of both men, he provided some wonderful insights into their similarities and differences. 

#1 - Francis Schaeffer, An Authentic Life, by Colin Duriez
Perhaps still the most significant work on Dr. Schaeffer to date is by Colin Duriez, as it provides a very objective viewpoint and addresses many significant questions about the Schaeffer's life. Colin's ability to weave the many threads of Edith's work, and numerous other source materials, into a rounded historical context, with concise explanations of complex subject matters, makes it extremely valuable. Yet, it is a very down-to-earth account, that is easy to read and hard to put down. When I have picked it up for references, I sometimes found myself stuck in it for a while. This is probably because Colin's primary work is as a fantasy writer, with books on the likes of Tolkien and Lewis. Moreover, when it comes to the biographical account, Colin himself interviewed Dr. Schaeffer back in 1980, and is known by both L'Abri and the Schaeffer family.

It is significant that Dr. Schaeffer's former editor James Sire had this to say this:

Francis Schaeffer was an amazing man-intellectually brilliant and set on truth, emotionally intense, devoted to God and compassionate; like Jeremiah, perplexed by the world, not because he didn't understand it but because he did. As one of his editors, I came to know him well, but only after he emerged as a writer. For me Colin Duriez fills in the fascinating details of his early years. Yes, this was the man I knew-one who was surprised by God as his influence grew from his pastoring small churches to teaching thousands in auditoriums around the world, from conversations one on one or with a handful of students to intellectual sparring with elite secular scholars and pundits. Duriez knows his subject; Schaeffer, the Jeremiah of the twentieth century, walks and talks again in these pages.

James W. Sire, Author, The Universe Next Door and A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics
Read Dr. Groothuis' review here.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk through the top five Schaeffer biographies that we recommend. You are sure to be blessed by reading them and will find them worth your valuable time. You may not feel called to make understanding Dr. Schaeffer a personal quest as much as we have, but you may find that by exploring some of these works, you will understand why we do!

Let us know what you think of these selections on out Facebooh Group!

Dan Guinn

Dan Guinn