Monday, April 27, 2009

The real Francis A. Schaeffer

Hunter Baker, "Remembering Francis Schaeffer" (Mere Comments, April 27, 2009), writes: "I recently reviewed Colin Duriez's biography of Francis Schaeffer for Themelios. You can read it here."

Baker goes on to offer a clip from the review:
Connecting the young Schaeffer to the more famous, older man is a great strength of Colin Duriez’s book. It has become well-accepted to break Schaeffer’s life up into segments and to characterize him as three different people. There is the young, fire breathing fundamentalist eager to “be ye separate” from the impure compromisers; the artsy, compassionate, bohemian founder of L’abri in Switzerland; and then the old man, brushing off his best instincts and returning to his fundamentalist roots to fight for the doctrine of inerrancy and “Christian America.” While it is possible to reach such a conclusion by looking at his early career and then considering the chronological development of his publications, this book rejects that approach by portraying Schaeffer as a consistent personality throughout.

The man who cared enough to tutor a little boy with Down Syndrome is also the man who told his church in St. Louis that he would resign if a black person ever came to his church and felt unwelcome. The budding intellectual who answered the existential questions of college students in Europe is also the agitator who took up the cause of the unborn and became arguably the finest shaper of and advocate for a potent evangelical critique of modern culture. Two sentences in the book make this point about Schaeffer brilliantly: “It was not a new Schaeffer that was emerging. His theology, honed over many decades since the passionate articles of the later forties and early fifties, was that of the lordship of Christ over every area of life—the womb as well as the university seminar room” (p. 182).
I'm personally delighted to see, finally, a fair-minded assessment of the senior Schaeffer emerge after the unnecessary dust stirred up after his passing has begun to settle.

The book: Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Crossway Books, 2008).

[Hat tip to C.B.]

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