Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Francis Schaeffer. Though I never met the man and though I haven’t read more than small pieces of his books, I owe a great debt of gratitude to him. Schaeffer shaped me by first shaping my parents. To mark this date I asked my parents if they would tell how Francis Schaeffer saved their saved souls.
(This afternoon you’ll have a chance to win The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer)
Francis Schaeffer did not save my soul. But he did save my saved soul. Let me explain.
My husband, John, and I became Christians in 1972. Neither one of us has had a moment’s doubt about the truth claims of Scripture since that time. But those first years were very difficult, nonetheless, both doctrinally and emotionally. Why?
We became Christians through Pentecostals, as do so many. They were fine people—loving, supportive, passionate in their faith. But, their theological flaws quickly exhausted us to the point we could not see our way forward in Christian life. What were these flaws? The most important was their two-tier approach to knowing God. The Bible was considered an important means to knowledge of God, undoubtedly. But, the superior way, just as undoubtedly, was to know God “directly”. Not through the medium of Scripture but im-mediately, mystically, through the revelations and experiences of tongues and prophecies. Sounds good in one sense, doesn’t it? But, as I said above, in practice, how exhausting! God’s ways and thoughts had to be known day by day rather than once and for all. In no time, we were two worn out little pilgrims. I remember saying to John, “There is no more security in Christian life than there is in non-Christian living.”
And then a wonderful friend told us about Francis Schaeffer. At the first possible opportunity, on our honeymoon to be exact!, we stopped by Swiss L’Abri. We read all of Schaeffer’s books. We spent a summer at English L’Abri. And, four years later, we took our then-family of two boys—Andrew and baby challies.com (aka Tim)—back to English L’Abri for an entire year.