Friday, June 18, 2010

Francis Schaeffer and the Push for Intellectual Christianity

Like I threatened promised, here's a more serious post. Seriousness is a good thing, especially as it's for such a good cause. And one can't dine on sugar candy forever.

So without further ado...

There are some books that are, you know, essential reading for Christians. Like the Bible. ;)

 Another book, or books I consider essential reading for Christians, are the books written by Dr. Francis Shaeffer, Christian philosopher and founder of L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. His books were found in five imposing volumes in bright colours that fascinated me as a child. However, I hadn't read his books until last week.

I recently read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I fell in love with one of the lines. It says : Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.

In this case though, God nudged the book into my hands. I was hanging around the church library, waiting for the service to start, when I randomly plucked a book from the shelf and began thumbing through it. It was titled He is There and He is Not Silent, and it was by Dr. Francis Schaeffer. I was intrigued, but I thought to myself, "I have about twenty library books sitting on my shelf at home. Let me get through them first,and then I'll come back for this one."

Such were my thoughts. I went in for the service, had a great time, then headed back home with my crazy, but wonderful family.

While I was in the car I glanced down absently at my hand, which was clutching my bag and a book. Wait. A book?!

Sure enough, He is There and He is Not Silent was practically affixed to my sticky fingers. Well! I had been carrying it around church all this time, and didn't even realise I was going so. I guess this probably means that I've become so used to carrying books around, that I don't even notice when I do so anymore. Rather a happy thought.

Anyway, I decided to treat myself to some Christian philosophy. And here arrives the juicy meat.

Christianity, Schaeffer says, is intellectual. It should be intellectual. As Christians we have been blessed with brains and we are clearly meant to use them.

Schaeffer points out the philosophic necessity of God's being there. Man, he says, is personal. As he writes," No one has ever demonstrated how time plus chance, beginning with an impersonal, can produce the needed complexity of the universe, let alone the personality of man."

Very well, then. Let's take the stand that man has a personal beginning. So?

To have an adequate answer of a personal beginning, Schaeffer writes, we need two things:

1. We need a personal- infinite God ( or an infinite-personal God).

"Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers. On the side of God's infinity, he stands alone.
All else is brought forth by creation, so all else is dependent and only he is independent. This is absolute on the side of his infinity. Therefore, concerning God's infinity, man is as separated from God as is the atom or any other machine-portion of the universe."

"But on the side of God being personal, the chasm is between man and animal, the plant and the machine. Why? Because man was made in the image of God."

Schaeffer also points out that God didn't create us to love Him. He is Loved and He is Love. Schaeffer writes," If not for the Trinity, we would have a God who needed to create in order to love and to communicate. The Persons of the Trinity communicated with each other, and loved each other before the creation of the world."

Whew! Wonderful stuff isn't it? And FYI, this is only up till page 11, and, I haven't even included most of his argument. I just wanted to show what a wonderful book it was. And I'm planning to diarise my trek through this book in future posts, so stay tuned!

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