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
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 !