Francis Schaeffer – the mere mention of his name makes some people upset while others pause to remember his life and legacy. While I am only very recently becoming acquainted with Schaeffer’s life and thought, I often find myself as I read his works thanking God for his life and witness. Furthermore, I think his approach towards apologetics is one that needs to be revisited. For this and many other reasons, I was excited when I read Dr. William Edgar new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life Countercultural Spirituality. This book is part of the Theologians on the Christian life series that aims to provide accessible introductions to the great teachers on the Christian life.
Francis Schaefer was one of the most influential apologists of the twentieth century. Through his speaking, writing, and filmmaking, Schaeffer successful transformed the way people thought of the Christian faith, from a rather private kind of piety to a worldview that addressed every sphere of life. This book by Dr. Edgar, a man converted from agnosticism within days of meeting Schaeffer, is the first book devoted to exploring the heart and soul of Schaeffer’s approach to the Christian life and thus will help readers strive after the same kind of marriage of thought and life, or orthodoxy and love as espoused by Schaeffer.
Dr. Edgar begins the book by introducing his story of meeting Schaeffer and continues on with Schaeffer’s journey and experience at L’Abri to include the impact of Schaeffer’s teaching on true spirituality. The book concludes by examining what it looks like to trust God for all of life, reflections on Francis Schaeffer, and a look at various titles in the complete works of Francis Schaeffer.
The impressive thing about Schaeffer is not only did he understand the Gospel clearly as the foundation for Christian life and practice, but he also sought to implement that into everything he did. Schaeffer’s concern to defend the authority of the Bible resonates well with me as that is one of my own greatest concerns for our generation. Dr. Edgar notes, “Schaeffer defends the Bible’s authority all through his work. His central apologetic concern is that we not dichotomize the Bible’s message as being true only in the religious sphere while fallible in the realms where science and history can verify its claims. The “religious” truth of the Bible is one of the same nature as the truth about everyday life. If the Bible affirms the physical resurrection of Jesus, then his body will never be found where he was buried. Ultimately, the Hebrew and biblical view grounds the truth in the character of God, who reveals himself in both the creation and especial revelation.” (p. 85)
It seems popular for some Christians to just come to the Bible to “prove” their position, however, this approach isn’t helpful. Christians are to be people of the Book which means we are to read it, study it, mediate upon it and apply its truth to every area of life. Following in the footsteps of Schaeffer, Christians are called to stand firm upon the authority and inspiration of the Bible and not diminish in anyway what they believe about the Truth of the Word. Rather, we must come under the authority of the Word of God. Sadly, one of my greatest concerns for this generation of Christians is that we fundamental dismiss the sufficiency of Scripture while pledging allegiance to an inspired and authoritative Word. That makes no sense. The Bible is authorative and inspired and as a result we must submit to what it teaches. If we believe the Bible is authoritative and inspired but fail to submit to it then we don’t believe the Bible. It makes no sense to come to a Bible we say we believe but don’t implement it truths into our lives. The evidence of our lives speaks against our profession. Following in the line of Schaeffer and many others, we need to stand firm on the truthfulness of the Word of God and in no way through our lives and work deny the Truth of the Bible. The Bible has one unified message and that is a rescue mission to seek and save sinners (Luke 19:10). Thankfully, men like Schaeffer understood that the Gospel is for every area of our lives.
Whether you are brand new or well-read on Schaeffer, Schaeffer on the Christian Life Countercultural Spirituality has something for you. First, reading this book will help you to understand the influence of Schaeffer through L’Abri and his impact on Dr. William Edgar. Second, it will help you understand what true spirituality is—grounded in the Gospel and for all of life. Finally, reading this book will cause you to want to read more about Schaeffer’s thought and life. Regardless of whether you are a Pastor or a lay person, this book has something for you. This engaging account, peppered with insight into the life, thought and influence of a man (Dr. Edgar) deeply impacted by Schaffer’s life and thought will help you learn the biblical process of spiritual formation and help you understand the many challenges the Church faces in the 21st century.
Author: William Edgar
Publisher: Crossway (2013)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crosway Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”