No Final Conflict – Francis Schaeffer (1975)

“It is my conviction that the crucial area of discussion for evangelicalism in the next years will be Scripture.  At stake is whether evangelicalism will remain evangelical.”  So stated Francis Schaeffer in his 1975 landmine, No Final Conflict.  While this treasure was penned nearly thirty years ago, it remains relevant and applicable to 21st-century culture.

It was not unusual for Schaeffer to warn Christians.  He did it often during the seventies and eighties.  His chief warning in No Final Conflict is to cling to the propositional truth of the Scriptures:  “We must say that if evangelicals are to be evangelicals, we must not compromise our view of Scripture … The issue is clear: Is the Bible truth without error wherever it speaks, including where it touches history and the cosmos, or is it only in some sense revelational where it touches religious subjects?”  Schaeffer smelled a “rat” in 1975.  He always had a good sense of smell!  The pesky “rat” that Schaeffer detected continues to scurry about in postmodern culture; in fact that “rat” has produced offspring.  The liberalism of the 70’s is flourishing in the 21st century.  Schaffer’s antidote is simple – We must embrace the truth of Scripture: “In our day that point is the question of Scripture.  Holding to a strong view of Scripture or not holding to it is the watershed of the evangelical world … We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not.”

One of Schaeffer’s key points is to clear up the confusion between reason and faith.  Indeed, this was one of the major notes of his writing.  He saw a unity between faith and reason; a unity that is marginalized especially by the new atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  Schaeffer posits, “There may be a difference between the methodology by which we gain knowledge from what God tells us in the Bible and the methodology by which we gain it from scientific study, but this does not lead to a dichotomy as to the facts … if both studies can be adequately pursued, there will be no final conflict.”  Truth is unified as Nancy Pearcey has reminded us.  There is no conflict between reason and faith.

Dr. Schaeffer went to be with his Lord in 1984.  If he were still with us, I’m convinced that he would never have an “I told you so attitude.”  Rather, he would continue to admonish believers to hold to a strong uncompromising view of Scripture.  He would challenge Christ-followers to cling to the rock of propositional truth.  And he would warn disciples of Christ to flee from anything that looks like a rat, smells, like a rat, or walks like a rat.  His warnings mattered almost thirty years ago.  They continue to be as relevant as ever!

 

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No Final Conflict – Francis Schaeffer (1975)

“It is my conviction that the crucial area of discussion for evangelicalism in the next years will be Scripture.  At stake is whether evangelicalism will remain evangelical.”  So stated Francis Schaeffer in his 1975 landmine, No Final Conflict.  While this treasure was penned nearly thirty years ago, it remains relevant and applicable to 21st-century culture.

It was not unusual for Schaeffer to warn Christians.  He did it often during the seventies and eighties.  His chief warning in No Final Conflict is to cling to the propositional truth of the Scriptures:  “We must say that if evangelicals are to be evangelicals, we must not compromise our view of Scripture … The issue is clear: Is the Bible truth without error wherever it speaks, including where it touches history and the cosmos, or is it only in some sense revelational where it touches religious subjects?”  Schaeffer smelled a “rat” in 1975.  He always had a good sense of smell!  The pesky “rat” that Schaeffer detected continues to scurry about in postmodern culture; in fact that “rat” has produced offspring.  The liberalism of the 70’s is flourishing in the 21st century.  Schaffer’s antidote is simple – We must embrace the truth of Scripture: “In our day that point is the question of Scripture.  Holding to a strong view of Scripture or not holding to it is the watershed of the evangelical world … We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take a full view of Scripture and those who do not.”

One of Schaeffer’s key points is to clear up the confusion between reason and faith.  Indeed, this was one of the major notes of his writing.  He saw a unity between faith and reason; a unity that is marginalized especially by the new atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  Schaeffer posits, “There may be a difference between the methodology by which we gain knowledge from what God tells us in the Bible and the methodology by which we gain it from scientific study, but this does not lead to a dichotomy as to the facts … if both studies can be adequately pursued, there will be no final conflict.”  Truth is unified as Nancy Pearcey has reminded us.  There is no conflict between reason and faith.

Dr. Schaeffer went to be with his Lord in 1984.  If he were still with us, I’m convinced that he would never have an “I told you so attitude.”  Rather, he would continue to admonish believers to hold to a strong uncompromising view of Scripture.  He would challenge Christ-followers to cling to the rock of propositional truth.  And he would warn disciples of Christ to flee from anything that looks like a rat, smells, like a rat, or walks like a rat.  His warnings mattered almost thirty years ago.  They continue to be as relevant as ever!

 

GENESIS IN SPACE AND TIME – Francis Schaeffer (1972)

Great thinkers throughout the course of history have queried, “Where did it all come from?  Who made the cosmos?  What made the cosmos?  What or who holds it all together?  What is the meaning of life?  What is the basis of knowledge?  Where are we heading?  And where do we go when we die?  For those who reject a personal Creator – the questions posed above become totally unanswerable.  For all those who reject a personal Creator, there is a hopelessness that lies under their dogmatic certainty.

Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer examines the flow of Biblical history.  The book of Genesis sets the parameters and helps articulate a Christian worldview that includes a personal God.  “He is there and he is not silent” as Schaeffer remarks in another book.  At the core of the book stands the belief in a personal Creator.  Affirming macroevolution or denying a personal Creator stands behind the hopelessness among the unbelieving world.  Schaeffer adds, “It is either not knowing or denying the createdness of things that is at the root of the blackness of modern man’s difficulties.  Give up creation as space-time, historic reality, and all that is left what Simone Weil called ‘uncreatedness.’  It is not that something does not exist, but that it just stands there, autonomous to itself, without solutions and without answers.”   The proliferation of the so-called new atheism is vivid proof that Schaeffer articulated almost forty years ago.

Schaeffer maintains that one must understand the book of Genesis in order to develop a workable approach to metaphysics, morality, and epistemology.  Genesis in Space and Time continues to be relevant as many evangelicals back away from a literal interpretation of Scripture and a six-day creation week.  Genesis in Space and Time is prophetic, bold and relevant.  A powerful antidote for postmodern skeptics.

4 stars

CAN SOMETHING COME FROM NOTHING?: Teaching Intelligent Design to Children

Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 and set forth his theory that all living organisms, including humans descended from a single primordial form.

Evolutionists bombard students with the erroneous notion that we are a result of a cosmic accident; that human life arose by chance.  Indeed, evolutionary theory teaches that man is an evolving animal.  Human destiny is “an episode between two oblivions,” says Ernest Nagel.

The logical end of this river of sludge is hopelessness.  Any consistent evolutionist must admit the utter futility of the human condition.  Jean Paul Sartre faced this dire set of circumstances with intellectual honesty.  The French Atheist admitted, “Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.”

My family is in the process of studying the Westminster Shorter Catechism which addresses this issue directly.  Q: What is the work of creation? A: The work of creation is, God’s making of all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

I began with a dinner time bombshell: “I want to teach you about the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system” (Francis Schaeffer’s catch phrase for the theory of evolution).  “Do you know what this means?”  Two blank faces.  I continued by drawing two pictures on a paper napkin that represented two prominent worldviews in our culture, namely, a closed system and an open system.

We began with a closed system (the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system).  In a closed system, man exists and God does not exist.  Since God does not exist in a closed system, there is no distinction between the creature and the Creator.  Then I asked my kids, “What are the consequences of living in a closed system?”  We learned together that in a closed system, miracles are impossible.  Knowledge and morality are impossible in a closed system.  And meaning becomes meaningless in a closed system.

I set my watch on the table.  “What are some things you know about my watch,” I said.  Both children chimed in.  “Your watch is silver.  It has an hour hand and a minute hand.  It shows the date.  It includes the words, ‘Swiss Military.'”  I asked my eight year old, “What would you say if I told you that this watch appeared out of nowhere … Poof!”  He responded, “Dad, that would be crazy.  That would be impossible.”  My eager learners understood an important lesson.  They grasped the law of causation, namely, every effect has a cause, a reality that is impossible in a closed system.

We continued to examine the implications of living in an open system.  In an open system that is set in a biblical framework, God exists.  God created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing).  His ability to create is as as Al Mohler notes, “not dependent upon any preexistent matter or conditioned by any external force” (For the Fame of His God’s Name).  God not only exists, but he has revealed himself.  He has spoken through his Word and through his Son (Heb. 1:1-3).  Therefore, there is a distinction between the Creator and the creature.  He is God.  We are not.  Therefore, we are accountable to God.  Because he is God, we have an obligation to obey his commandments.

Children and adults alike need to be reminded of Augustine’s motto: Ex nihilo, nihil fit, out of nothing, nothing comes.  In other words, something cannot come from nothing.  Children and adults need to be reminded that the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system is one of the biggest lies that has been weaved into the fabric of public education.  We all need to be reminded that a personal God created all things and holds all things together by the word of his power.

“For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17, ESV).