Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri
Francis August Schaeffer (30 January 1912 – 15 May 1984) was an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor. He is most famous for his writings and his establishment of the L'Abri community in Switzerland. Opposed to theological modernism, Schaeffer promoted a more historic Protestant faith and a presuppositional approach to Christian apologetics, which he believed would answer the questions of the age. Schaeffer's wife, Edith (Seville) Schaeffer, became a prolific author in her own right. This lesson is fairly cut and dry; Schaeffer combined not just apologetics, but history and art all through the lens of God and by doing this he reached an entire world of liberals as well as conservatives by reminding us that the Arts as well as history speak of Christ in almost every picture of art or page of history. We must realize this and if someone brings us a piece of art that we think is trash we must see this not through our own lens but through Christ. Your requirement here is simply to watch Schaeffer's 10 part documentary on this very concept and answer/submit the 30 questions that follow (these questions are setup so that you must watch the videos to be able to answer them). You may not think so but you will walk away from these 10 - 30 minute episodes a much better equipped Christian and person:
The above video is simply an introduction to Francis Schaeffer in 2 minutes:
Here is the study guide PDF that goes with our series: https://theapologeticsgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/How-Shall-We-Then-Live-Study-Guide.pdf
Finally the above video series (once you hit play it should play from one part to the next) will conclude our look at viewing the "flow of History" through a biblical lens; this is a must action for those wishing to be truly be a complete Christian as Schaeffer accurately portrays.
Lastly the above video is a required watching simply because too many Christians today neglect the role of Arts and Christianity even though (as Schaeffer has pointed out) this is a crucial piece to the puzzle and has always been. This is just a short 1 hour video but please watch before proceeding to the next lesson.
Congratulations on finishing lesson 2!!! You now have a choice; you can either write a 1-2 page essay summarizing the entire 10 part series as well as commenting on how it relates to our own modern times as well as our future or you can answer the next 40 questions - your choice. Thanks again and God Bless!
- Who was Francis Schaeffer and why was he important?
- What did Schaeffer mean when he discussed the weakness of Rome’s foundation?
- Why are finite gods like those created by Rome not sufficient to build a foundation upon?
- What were the problems with Rome (in their desperation) putting their hopes on a human ruler in Caesar?
- Dr. Schaeffer claims that, through looking at history, we can see how presuppositions determine events. Does his discussion bear this out and, if so, how?
- How can a survey of Roman history in one-half hour be either useful or responsible?
- “History does not repeat itself.” —The parallels between the history of Rome and the twentieth/twenty-first century West are many and obvious.” How may these statements be reconciled?
- Summarize the negative and positive aspects of church influence in the Middle Ages.
- “To speak of distortions of belief in the Middle Ages is to pretend that the church should have stood still when the apostles died. But we have to adapt to new circumstances and ideas. The medieval church did.” Thoughts?
- Apply the particulars-universals discussion to modern circumstances. How do people repeat the same mistakes nowadays? Be specific.
- In what ways is this treatment of the Renaissance different from other treatments with which you are familiar?
- Attitudes toward nature and Man seem to be crucial to understanding the Renaissance. How far were these attitudes Christian and how far non-Christian?
- Can you see any parallels between the evolution of humanism in the Renaissance—from hopeful dawn to ominous sunset–and the changing outlook on human and world problems during your own lifetime?
- Can you clearly differentiate between the key ideas of the Renaissance and the Reformation, respectively?
- “The Reformation is simply the last gasp of medieval Christianity. Once exhausted, the truly modern and humane force of the Renaissance dominated the West.” Just add your own comments?
- “As a man thinketh, so is he”—the renewed emphasis upon the Bible’s teaching in the Reformation had practical results. If some of these results are no longer common among us, how far may this be attributed to a de-emphasis upon biblical teaching today?
- What has been the role of biblical principles in the legal and political history of the countries studied?
- Is it true that lands influenced by the Reformation escaped political violence because biblical concepts were acted upon?
- What are the core distinctions, in terms of ideology and results, between English and American Revolutions on the one hand, and the French and Russian on the other hand?
- What were the weaknesses which developed at a later date in countries which had a Reformation history?
- Dr. Schaeffer believes that basic to action is an idea, and that the history of the West in the last two or three centuries has been marked by a humanism pressed to its tragic conclusions and by a Christianity insufficiently applied to the totality of life. How should Christians then approach participation in social and political affairs?
- Explain the important contributions to science made by biblical principles. How should our knowledge of the biblical view of work and nature affect our own attitudes to research, study of the Bible, and the use of our minds?
- Does this segment help you to understand how and why men of great intellectual refinement in Nazi Germany could accept what was going on?
- “Without the absolute line which Christianity gives of the total uniqueness of Man, people have no boundary line between what they can do and what they should do.” Discuss.
- What is the difference between theologians and philosophers of the rationalist tradition and those of the existentialist tradition?
- “If the early church had embraced an existentialist theology, it would have been absorbed into the Roman pantheon.” It didn’t. Why not?
- “It is true that existentialist theology is foreign to biblical religion. But biblical religion was the product of a particular culture and, though useful for societies in the same cultural stream, it is no longer suitable for an age in which an entire range of world cultures requires a common religious denominator. Religious existentialism provides that, without losing the universal instinct for the holy.” Study this statement carefully. What assumptions are betrayed by it?
- Can you isolate attitudes and tendencies in yourself, your church, and your community which reflect the “existentialist methodology” described by Dr. Schaeffer?
- Explain what “fragmentation” means, as discussed by Dr. Schaeffer. What does it result from? Give examples of it.
- Apart from the fact that modern printing and recording processes made the art and music of the past more accessible than ever before, do you think that the preference of many people for the art and music of the past is related to the matters discussed by Dr. Schaeffer? If so, how?
- “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds... With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” Emerson wrote this over a century ago. Is this true?
- How far do you think that the opinion of some Christians that one should have nothing to do with philosophy, art and novels is a manifestation of the very fragmentation which is characteristic of modern secular thought? Discuss.
- What was the basic cause of campus unrest in the sixties? What has happened to the campus scene since, and why?
- What elements — in the life and thought of the communist and noncommunist world alike — suggest a possible base for world agreement?
- “To prophesy doom about Western society is premature. We are, like all others who have lived in times of great change, too close to the details to see the broader picture. One thing we do know: Society has always gone on, and the most wonderful epochs have followed the greatest depressions. To suggest that our day is the exception says more about our headache than it does about our head.” Thoughts?
- As Dr. Schaeffer shows, many apparently isolated events and options gain new meaning when seen in the context of the whole. How far does your own involvement in business, law, financing, and so on reveal an acquiescence to current values?
- The theory of human biological manipulation, granted its premises, is entirely consistent. Outline these premises and the way in which various programs of manipulation are derived from them.
- In a world moving steadily towards authoritarian regimes, does the relative slowness of Western democracies to lose their freedoms increase or decrease the likelihood of the West’s political survival? Give reasons.
- Can you think of ways in which you and your church’s attitudes to society betray the utilitarian approach to the world? Does this approach reflect ignorance about the Truth and guilt about our failure to live it?
- What is the alternative approach and what does it reflect?
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