Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) may very well be one of the most important Christian thinkers of the twentieth century. Schaeffer graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary and was heavily influenced by J. Gresham Machen, Cornelius Van Til, and the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper.
In 1948, after a ten-year pastorate in the United States, he moved his family to Switzerland to engage in missionary work. In 1955, Dr. and Mrs. Schaeffer founded L’Abri in a small mountain village in Switzerland. French for “shelter,” L’Abri became a refuge for people in need of spiritual help. The Schaeffers were especially interested in people who sought answers to basic philosophical and metaphysical problems. He writes, “To the best of my ability I gave the Bible’s answers. But all the time I tried to listen and learn the thought forms of these people. I think that my knowledge, whatever it is, is formed from two factors: 1) Forty years of hard study, and 2) Trying to listen to the twentieth-century man as he talked” (Eternity, March 1973). Schaeffer’s keen ability to listen carefully and engage the intellect of these people became a primary factor that contributed to his success.
Students came to L’Abri from varied backgrounds – philosophy, medicine, architecture, science, and theology. The Schaeffers ministered to college professors, students, pastors, engineers, and lawyers to name a few. The common thread among all L’Abri visitors was a thirst for truth. These people sought answers to the basic questions of life: Who am I? Where am I going? What is my purpose in life? How does God fit in the scheme of things?
The stated purpose of L’Abri is “to show forth by demonstration, in our life and work, the existence of God” (L’Abri, 16). L’Abri continues to operate and fulfill the vision of Francis Schaeffer even over twenty-five years after his death. The ministry of L’Abri may also be found in Holland, Australia, England, Sweden, India, South Korea and Massachusetts.
Francis Schaeffer published his first book, The God Who Is There in 1968. He subsequently wrote twenty-two books which have been translated into more than twenty-five different languages. A common unifying theme runs throughout Schaeffer’s books, namely, “the Lordship of Christ in the totality of life” (The Great Evangelical Disaster, 303).
In the days to come, my goal is to expose readers to Francis Schaeffer and pay particular attention to his views on apologetics and the nature of the church.
Dr. David Steele has been in pastoral ministry since 1991. He holds BS and MA degrees from Multnomah University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary and a D. Min from Bakke Graduate University. Following graduation from Multnomah University, he served eight years as Pastor to Students at Lacey Chapel. In 2000, he became the Pastor of Theology at First Baptist Church in La Grande, Oregon where he served for over eleven years. In 2012, he became the Senior Pastor at Christ Fellowship in Everson, Washington.
He is the author of Bold Reformer: Celebrating the Gospel-Centered Convictions of Martin Luther, A Godward Gaze: The Holy Pursuit of John Calvin, and The White Flag: When Compromise Cripples the Church.
At Christ Fellowship he leads the staff, serves as the Pastor for preaching and vision casting, and oversees Veritas (adult theological education) and Iron Men (men’s leadership development).
His personal mission is to positively influence people, impact the world one person at a time and to glorify God by enjoying him forever. His passion in ministry is preaching, teaching, and leadership development. Specifically, his aim is to educate the mind, engage the affections, equip the whole person, and encourage God-centered living that treasures Christ above all things.
He and his wife, Gerrene were married in 1991 and they have two children.