Francis Schaeffer would have turned 100 years old on January 30th. He was one of the greatest Christian authors and apologists of all time -- a man who insisted that Truth be taught, no matter what the consequences might be. His influence lives on today in the message and mission of the Christian worldview movement, especially in apologetics and in the work of ministry leaders like Chuck Colson.
In this eye-opening conversation, Chuck Colson and John Stonestreet take us on a tour of the incredible influence one man had on Christianity during the last century. This influence, as John Stonestreet notes, extends beyond theology and philosophy and into the hearts of men and women who have converted their worldview into action, including one ex Watergate felon-turned-Christian-commentator.
"Everyone that's influenced me," says John Stonestreet, "was influenced by this guy who had a little place in Switzerland where he talked about the world of ideas. The list of names that this man has influenced goes on and on, and you're one of the guys on that list!"
"I think Francis Schaeffer was the greatest prophet of the latter half of the 20th Century," says Chuck. "What Schaeffer did was to put intellectual content in context to see Christianity not just as a personal experience with Jesus, but as an overarching way of understanding all of the world and all of reality."
For Chuck, whose personal experience with Schaeffer near the end of the theologian's life molded his view of Christianity and culture, the central message of this champion of holistic faith was Truth.
"I will never forget being with Schaeffer on several occasions after he had contracted cancer and was getting weaker and weaker," remembers Chuck. "He would still go to Christian audiences, he worked right up until dying. He died prematurely in my opinion -- he hadn't really finished his task here. But what he would say over and over in that squeaky, little voice and with that goatee as you described it and the knickers -- he kept saying, "The issue is Truth, Truth, Truth! Flaming truth!" He was passionate -- talking at the top of his lungs even when his health was failing, because he wanted us to know so badly that the issue of the day was Truth: is there something that is reality? Is there a moral order than we can know?"
As any listener or reader of BreakPoint's resources will know, this flagship message of Schaeffer's is the heart and soul of Chuck's work. But what gives this message legs, and carries it into the culture to, as Abraham Kuyper said, claim everything "within the whole domain of human existence" for Christ, is another idea of Schaeffer's -- one which forever changed how Christians view the world. Chuck describes this idea:
"It's only now that we're seeing people slowly, gradually but certainly embracing the fundamental idea that Christianity is not just Jesus and me. Christianity is Christ being the Logos -- what the Greeks meant when they used "logos" was all Truth that could ever be known. The source of all ultimate reality is in Christ. You begin to understand that and suddenly you're looking at things going on every day around you from a biblical perspective. This what I've spent the last twenty years preaching and teaching: you have to look at everything that's happening through God's eyes."
Schaeffer did much more than introduce new ideas. He helped shift the conversation on faith and apologetics from one of personal experience to a universal imperative. In many ways, he made it possible for Christians to use the term "worldview" and understand what it means. Schaeffer reopened the eyes of Western Civilization to read its own biography -- a legacy of Christian faith etched in its art, music, science, business, law and values. That, says Chuck, is what makes Schaeffer's life not only a legacy worth remembering, but a mission worth continuing.
"He gave texture and intellectual depth to the Christian faith at a very critical time. Schaeffer got it. And the more we can talk about Schaeffer right now to put things in context of what Christianity really is and its impact on life, the better we're going to be."
Click here to purchase Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey's How Now Shall We Live?, dedicated to Francis Schaeffer.
Click here for a list of Francis Schaeffer's greatest works, from the Colson Center store!
Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.