Wednesday, 8 October 2014

True Truth: Francis Schaeffer's Enduring Legacy

One of the great tragedies in the evangelical church of today is that it has largely forgotten one of its great heroes from the evangelical church of yesterday.  One of my heroes of the faith and someone who has profoundly affected my thinking is Francis Schaeffer. 

Just how influential was Schaeffer?  If you find yourself opposing or protesting the rampant abortion of our culture, you probably owe your awareness of the issue to Schaeffer.  If you are familiar with the term "Christian worldview", you likely have Schaeffer to thank.  If you self identify as a reformed evangelical, along with other incluences such as R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer and John Piper you likely have Francis Schaeffer to thank.  If you hold firmly to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, probably much of your reasoning can be traced back to Schaeffer's defences of the Bible.  If you believe there comes a time in the culture wars where Christians may have to take the stand of civil disobedience, you are following Schaeffer.  If you believe that evangelicals can and should present our faith and worldview through the arts (including film), and that we should do art better than anyone else because we know the great and first Artist, you have Schaeffer to thank.  And if you believe that love and kindness as well as strong intellectual reasoning are all part of the task of apologetics, you likely got that blend from Schaeffer.  And this is only part of his ongoing and pervasive legacy.

Certainly he did not stand alone in all this, nor was he the originator of any of these concepts or practices, but Schaeffer was a hugely persuasive popularizer of these things through his books, lectures, sermons and films.  He saw so clearly the effects of Secular Humanism, Pragmatism, Relativism and Postmodernism within modern society and with the clear gaze of a prophet he told the church of his day just where it would end up if it didn't recognize and reject these things as incompatible with the universal Lordship of Jesus Christ.  [Oh yeah, if you hold to the universal Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of thought and life, you probably also owe that to Schaeffer.]  God used him powerfully in his day and, thanks be to God, even though so many have forgotten about him or have never even heard of him or are unfamiliar with his work, there are some around who, while not perhaps agreeing with every single thing he said or did, still carry on his legacy and his Christian cultural project in their own ministries.

One such person is Donald Williams.  I am happy to recommend this article to you.  Williams reminds us of Schaeffer's enduring relevance and the legacy he passed on to us:
  • Christianity is Truth.
  • Christian Truth touches all of life: “The lordship of Christ over the total culture.”
  • Christian life & witness must show the whole character of God: “holiness and love.”
  • The truth of Christianity must be demonstrated both intellectually and practically through a life of faith.
[Oh yeah, and if you enjoy the music of Mark Heard as I do (I took the title of my blog page from one of his songs), you also owe your appreciation for the depth and artistic genius of Heard's songs at least in part to Schaeffer's personal influence upon and discipleship of Mark Heard.]

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ten Shekels and a Shirt

A good friend told me about a sermon entitled Ten Shekels and a Shirt, preached back in the 60s by a pastor and missionary named Paris Reidhead.  I listened to it here and simultaneously read it here.  I cannot recommend this sermon too highly and I would put a plug in for listening and reading at the same time - you get so much more out of it, especially as the recording isn't as sharp as modern sermon recordings. 

Too often have we traded our gospel heritage, our re-birthright in Christ, the freedom-inducing truth of a loving God, for a mess of humanistic, man-centred pottage.  Or as Reidhead would put it, we have traded the glory and worthiness of the holy and loving God for ten shekels and a shirt. 

The glory of God, not the happiness of man, is the prime focus of the Christian life and message.  And God's gospel and God's glory must be proclaimed by God's methods, not by our methods and through our motivations with a token prayer requesting God's blessing.  This is as solid a reminder of that as I've heard in a long time.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sermon prep work ethic

On the wall of my study above my desk and immediately in front of me I have this quote by A.W. Pink to encourage me (or shame me) as I prepare my sermons:

"No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people."
                                                           

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Holiday

I don't blog with any sort of predictable regularity, but for those of you who check out my blog periodically, I will be taking a month of vacation to spend with my family and during that time, the blog will be collecting cob webs.  Blessings.

The Holdfast

I threatned to observe the strict decree
     Of my dear God with all my power and might.
     But I was told by one, it could not be.
Yet I might trust in God to be my light.
Then I will trust, said I, in him alone.
     Nay, ev'n to trust in him, was also his:
     We must confess, that nothing is our own.
Then I confess that he my succour is:
But to have nought is ours, not to confess
     That we have nought.  I stood amaz'd at this,
     Much troubled, till I heard a friend express,
That all things were more ours by being his.
     What Adam had, and forfeited for all,
     Christ keepeth now, who cannot fail or fall.

                                           - George Herbert

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Augustine on Ambrose's reading habits...

"When he read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart explored the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still.  All could approach him freely and it was not usual for visitors to be announced, so that often, when we came to see him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.  We would sit there quietly, for no one had the heart to disturb him when he was so engrossed in study.  After a time we went away again, guessing that in the short time when he was free from the turmoil of other men's affairs and was able to refresh his own mind, he would not wish to be distracted.  Perhaps he was afraid that, if he read aloud, some obscure passage in the author he was reading might raise a question in the mind of an attentive listener, and he would then have to explain the meaning or even discuss some of the more difficult points.  If he spent his time in this way, he would not manage to read as much as he wished.  Perhaps a more likely reason why he read to himself was that he needed to spare his voice, which quite easily became hoarse.  But whatever the reason, we may be sure it was a good one."

                                                                                    - The Confessions, Book VI.3

Friday, 1 August 2014

Pros and Cons

There is no true profession of faith without real confession of sin.

There is no right pronouncement of the gospel without honest consecration of life to Christ.