I grew up in a fundamental evangelical environment in the 1960s and 1970s, and continued on in that paradigm for years afterwards, doing various types of Christian service and missionary work in many parts of the world. I think that it would be safe to say, that for most evangelical Christians during that time…and even today, the name Francis Schaeffer (along with his wife Edith) conjured up images of some sort of Evangelical Super Hero. The “liberals and unbelievers” might have their intellectuals, but none of them could stand up to our hero, Francis Schaeffer. He had established a community, called L’Abri, of like-minded deep thinkers who lived in Switzerland. It was into this socio-religious environment that Frank Schaeffer was born, raised and marinated.
In the last number of years, my journey has taken me away from much of the evangelical dogma that I held to for so long, and so it was with interest that I read this book by the son of our Super Hero.
Much of the book is autobiographical in nature with Frank sharing personal glimpses into what it was like to be living as a growing boy with the great Francis and Edith Schaeffer. But it is much more than that…he shows the tenderness he feels for his two young grandchildren that he spends much time with each day. And then there is the thread of the ragged, messy journey that he has been on and how his life has been enriched by the freedom of mystery and paradox. I will simply leave with some things I highlighted when reading this wonderful book. I doubt that the audience for this book will be mainline evangelicals who are “certain they are correct”, but for anybody who is willing to be honest and ask questions, it is a great read.
“My dogmatic declarations of faith once provided status, ego-stroking power over others and a much better income than I’ve ever earned since fleeing the evangelical machine. Certainty make things simple, gave me an answer to every questions and paid the bills.”
“Embracing paradox helped me discover that religion is a neurological disorder for which faith is the only cure.”
“Apophatic theology teaches that the divine is ineffable and recognized only when it’s felt. In contrast to the literalistic evangelicals and Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Muslims and Orthodox Jews, some of the earliest Church Fathers were closer in their thinking to Wettstein.They said that scripture was to be read through an apophatic approach.”
“Science can’t predict what stories my children’s great grandchildren will tell. The ultimate story about the experience of our journey into consciousness is a closed book to theologians and scientists alike, but it is not a book without promise. At this point we’ve barely cracked the introduction, and already smartass scientists and theologians pretend they know not just how the story started but how it ends—and worse—what it means or doesn’t mean.”
“How we treat others is the only proof of truth we have. That proof is not found in any book. It is only found in the expression of unconditional trust we may sometimes see in the eyes of the people who know us best.”
And one more that I am sure will cause the hair on the back of many necks to bristle….
“Those of us raised in the Christian tradition need to choose to either see God in Jesus or to continue to let the Bible define God.”