I'm fascinated by the things that were said almost 50 years ago and how they might apply today. Frances Schaffer always seemed to transcend time. In his book The God Who is There, I found these observations for the Latter Half of the Twentieth Century:
It is my hope that this book may be useful in helping orthodox evangelicalism so that it will be a thing of strength and beauty in the second half of the twentieth century.
- The full doctrinal position of historic Christianity must be clearly maintained.
- Every honest question must be given an honest answer. It is unbiblical for anyone to say "just believe".
- There must be an individual and corporate exhibition that God exists in our century, in order to show that historic Christianity is more than just a superior dialectic or a better point of psychological integration. ~ Frances Schaffer
Nothing has changed!
Those three principles are more necessary today than ever in the past. Obviously we did little to establish that foundation. So let's take a careful look at where we are and how we can get back to the place where "evangelicalism is a thing of strength and beauty" in the twenty-first century.
The Full Doctrinal Position of Historic Christianity
There has been a trend to steer away from doctrinal teaching. A pastor product of this modern era has a doctrinal statement that is five lines long. There is nothing definitive and nothing validated. I don't find anything in the statement that is objectionable. But it sorely lacks anything definitive either.
The historical doctrines of the church must be the center of all that we believe.
... which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. ~ 1 Timothy 3:15
Schaffer deplored those who, in their desire to communicate Christianity to a lost world, were changing what is unchangeable in Christianity. We must do the same! The message is too precious to be lost in an attempt to "get it across".
Honest Answers to Honest Questions
This generation needs honest answers. They have honest questions that demand careful and honest answers. To provide those answers we must understand the questions. This will require careful listening. Listening through the ears and not just with the ears. Hearing not just the words but the underlying passions that lead to the words.
Schaffer always argued that non-Christians didn't just believe different from Christians. Non-Christians think different! Addressing the belief system without addressing the thought processes that develop those beliefs is at the heart of this issue.
Exhibition that God Exists in Our Day
What our world needs more than anything else is a visible manifestation of the reality of God in the lives of His people. What we are seeing right now is a deep desire by many in the Body of Christ to see God at work in their lives. Having desired that first, they can then be confident that He will move in their world!
This is a breath of fresh air in a sin cursed world.
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. ~ Romans 5:20
Maybe what we're seeing is a desire for the abounding grace of God. Maybe we've come to the end of ourselves and the full realization that: "If God doesn't do it, it won't get done."
It simply isn't enough to know God intellectually. He must be known experientially.
"The arose a generation that knew about Schaffer..." More than 45 years have gone by since Schaffer spoke these words. Are they as timely today as when they were spoken? Or are they timeless because they are true!
Eric is dedicated believer in Jesus Christ committed to developing alliances between the world of commerce and the body of believers. You can find out more at Eric
Mulford Tailgate Theologian