Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, wrote a best-selling memoir, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. His quote — “We helped make a movement that went totally off the rails and, of course, politically is still going now” — mainly refers to his disenchantment with Evangelical Christianity from his insider’s view of the participants.
But more on that later.
Let’s say that Francis Schaeffer was busy reading a book and didn’t watch TV the night Rev. Jerry Falwell preached at the televised crusade in 1978. Then, they probably would never have met. Then, Rev. Jerry Falwell would not have been involved in politics. Then, the Moral Majority would never have begun. Then, the Evangelicals would not have flocked to the Republican Party. Then. Then. Then. Then. Many other things would not have happened in America.
Would we be any worse off in America today if Schaeffer and Falwell had not met in 1978?
I believe the answer is a loud “NO!”
In fact, I believe we might be better off today if these two men would never have met.
Both Schaeffer and Falwell were dynamic, persuasive, intelligent believers. So, when they arrived at American Christianity’s fork in the road in the late 1970s, they set the standard for Christian leaders by choosing the much-traveled path of preaching and lecturing, which allowed them to reason with hundreds of thousands of people. Their examples spawned tens of thousands of pastors and preachers to tread on the same roads.
Almost overnight, eighteen state Moral Majority Chapters were organized with grassroots volunteers, supporting the Republican party. This probably helped elect President Ronald Reagan in 1980, but it also encamped most Evangelicals inside the GOP as lemmings following supposed Christian/conservative candidates.
The sad fact is that Christianity entered into spiritual warfare against abortion and anti-Christ attitudes by aligning itself with a political party and placing its hope in politicians. Yipes! We’re using the world’s weapons to try and defeat Satan on his battlefield and with his rulebook. It will never result in victories for Christ and His followers!
Yet, if anyone mentions that we’re heading the wrong way, tens of millions of believers will rise up and scream, “It worked for us in 1980. We just need another Ronald Reagan to change America!”
It would have been better to have suffered defeat in 1980. Then, we could have licked our wounds, sought the Lord, and learned how to fight the good fight. And anyway, almost every accomplishment of President Ronald Reagan has long since been lost…except for the political template, which we Christians drag out every four years to supposedly “take back America.”
I agree with Francis Schaeffer’s son Frank’s quote, but I believe Evangelical Christianity never had its wheels on the right track even at the beginning of the journey in 1979. However, we’re still trying to beat the rock with Moses’ worn-out staff, hoping to get water from it.
Will America survive?
(Continued in Part 3)