les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Francis Schaeffer (Bitesize Biographies) by Mostyn Roberts

As a student in the 1980s I cut my teeth on Francis Schaeffer, reading the big classic, watching the series of films and being aware and shaped in a way by his analysis of the direction in which Western culture was going. "True Spirituality" was always my favourite Schaeffer book, and later contact with his family ensured that his influence on the scene I lived in continued.

So it's been fascinating to read Mostyn Roberts' little biography. I know Mostyn and this has added to my enjoyment - now and again his dry sense of humour comes through. It was good to place Schaeffer's formative years in context - the context of the huge battles for orthodoxy - and now as a missionary pastor in France the later battle with neo-orthodoxy is just as live an issue today as it was then. Maybe more so.

Schaeffer the man is portrayed sensitively as well as his real dependence on and need for Edith's complementary gifts and character. And just in case you were wondering, don't write this off as a trivial, superficial biography. Schaeffer's approach to apologetics is discussed, for example, explaining terms like presuppositionalism, evidentialism and plumping for Schaeffer being a "Verificationalist".

His famous struggle of 1951 is explained, though in less detail. Could anyone really go much further anyway, and what good would it do ?

Chapter 10 examines Schaeffer's teachings and gives a good overview of their basic approaches, arguing that he identified the essence of postmodernism long before the term was ever used. Chapter 11 describes his apologetics in more detail. Chapter 12 describes the films. Oh how I remember the sight of some Pope being carried over the hills in a sedan chair, followed by a goateed man in knockerbockers (How should we then live?), shown in the Geography Lecture Theatre. A final chapter discusses Schaeffer's legacy.

I enjoyed this book. I'll read it again some day. For me it plugged a character who was important in my Christian formation back into the context of 20th century Christian history. It put Schaeffer in context. And as we all know, nothing helps you understand like seeing a thing in context. Thanks Mostyn !

1 comment:

Cross Focused Reviews said...

Alan,

Thanks for being a part of the Bitesize Biographies Francis Schaeffer blog tour. I'm so glad you enjoyed learning more about the very interesting life of Francis Schaeffer in this brief biography. I was also excited to read that you know the author too.

Looking forward to working with you on future book review blog tours.

Shaun Tabatt
Cross Focused Reviews