Friday, April, 16, 2010

Francis Schaeffer and L’Abri

Filed under: books, christianity, my stuff, school — mete23 @ 8:45 am

So this was the least scary picture I found of him…haha.

Like I said last post, I wanted to write something about the life of Francis Schaeffer after reading one of his biographies. The biography is titled Francis Schaeffer And the Shaping of Evangelical America and is authored by Barry Hankins. Hankins divides Schaeffer’s life into three stages:

  1. Staunch fundamentalist against modern and liberal theology and Christians. Basically there were “Christians”  preaching about the Christian God without believing or mentioning sin or the resurrection of Jesus Christ, more or less. (That is a very shallow explanation but you get me) He led a lot of separationist movements and encouraged congregants to leave their churches if their churches believed in Christian liberalism.
  2. Establishment of L’Abri in Switzerland. I find this part of his life so fascinating because he basically became this philosophical, culturally engaged and loving thinker, teacher and preacher. He set up this school called L’Abri, where people could stay free of charge but had to work for half the day for food and board and then participate in either personal studies or theological and spiritual discussions for the other half. He would have long conversations that would end well past midnight that were incredibly stimulating, persuasive and engaging. In short, he was doing apologetics with hospitality by not simply arguing and debating atheists, agnostics or subscribers to different religions but deeply cared about their well being and stay at L’Abri. Most of the people who stayed at L’Abri were college and recently graduated folks. One of his most memorable teachings was the “line of despair” where he pushed his students to the brink of existentialist thought and challenged them to think and come to terms with whatever was beyond that.
  3. Republican, conservative, right winged evangelical. This was unfortunate, not that he was part of the Conservative party but that politicians and especially his son pushed him into arguing and dealing with the political mess in America. I am not saying that Schaffer’s views were not incongruous to the Republican party; he certainly agreed on some points but he also vehemently disagreed with certain issues as well. The Republican party basically used Schaeffer to advance their political agenda and thus gain votes and the evangelical crowd. I will just say that it is very difficult to be on middle ground in the American political realm.

I want to visit L’Abri. They opened up many more schools across the globe and most stays now are about $25 a night including board and food. I really liked the way he approached evangelism in that it was a combination of apologetics and hospitality. It takes both reason and love for the other person in order for anyone to even begin to consider the truth that the Christian faith is preaching. And a disclaimer, Schaeffer simply engaged in conversations and dialogued with his students. If you feel threatened by any of this, it’s not suppose to be threatening.


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