“Few Christians have had as great an impact on their generation as Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer.” (The Francis Schaeffer Foundation)
To say Francis Schaeffer (1912 – 1984) has had a profound impact on American Christianity would be a massive understatement. Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Tim LaHaye, Michelle Bachmann, Randall Terry, Ralph Reed, and thousands of other Christian leaders have been greatly influenced by the writings of Dr. Schaeffer.
Along with his wife Edith, the daughter of a missionary couple to China, Schaeffer pastored two churches in America and then moved to Switzerland to be a part of missionary group in 1948.
Dr. Schaeffer and Edith eventually founded L’Abri (French for shelter) in Switzerland in 1954, which helped fulfill the couple’s dream of working with young people. It was a unique combination retreat, commune, and seminary, without really being any of the three. It was at L’Abri that Schaeffer wrote his twenty-two books and followed his intellectual pursuits in art, music, science, and politics.
In the mid-1970’s, Dr. Schaeffer produced a film/video series and a book, entitled, How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. He toured America and was enthusiastically received by Evangelical leaders. The video series encouraged Christians to become active in politics to stop abortion.
A second video series, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, and a book, The Christian Manifesto, cemented Dr. Francis Schaeffer as the guiding light for the entrance of Evangelicals into American politics. Schaeffer set the tone and agenda for today’s Christian Right.
Schaeffer’s books and videos are still used in Evangelical seminaries today.
Rev. Jerry Falwell embraced the writing and teachings of Dr. Francis Schaeffer. And because of that, Falwell arrived at the same wrong conclusions that Schaeffer did: that the entrance of Evangelical Christians into politics would remove abortion and other sinful practices from our nation.
Sadly, we’re still making the same mistakes today after almost forty years of going down the wrong road.
(Continued in Part 7…if you are interested, the full series, which was written in 2014, may be seen here.)