By Al Benson Jr.
Back during the 1970s and 80s Francis Schaeffer wrote a whole series of books that catered to a broadly evangelical audience. I didn’t read all of them but I did read a few, and some of them, to be honest, left me a little flat. Dr. Schaeffer passed away in 1984, I believe, but toward the end of his writing career (which was only one part of his ministry) he wrote a couple books that seemed to me to indicate that something had awakened him to where the country and the church in this country were really at.
He wrote A Christian Manifesto in which he noted through biblical history how many people that the Lord had blessed had disobeyed their rulers because their rulers were acting in open defiance of God’s will. One Bible verse he noted in this aspect was Acts 5:29. This was in reference to Peter and the other apostles preaching about Jesus and His resurrection in Jerusalem. They had been forbidden by the Jewish religious establishment from doing this. They were dragged in front of the high priest and the council for this and the high priest asked them directly, as noted in Acts 5:28 “Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” How conveniently they forgot their own statements, uttered in Matthew 27:25, when, after Pilate had washed his hands, they stated: “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” Remember that statement guys? Oh I realize you got the multitude to shout it, but it was your sentiment. Has it ever occurred to you that you got only what you asked for?
But in reply to the religious establishment’s command to stop preaching in Jesus’ name, Peter said: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The Bible sets a precedent, regardless of how Romans 13 is misrepresented, that says there are certain places where it is the bounden duty of believers to resist and disobey government. If government commands you to do that which is contrary to God’s will, then you have to obey God rather than man.
Another interesting book that Dr. Schaeffer wrote toward the end of his life was The Great Evangelical Disaster. I had this on my shelf for years and never got to it, but in recent weeks I pulled it down and opened it and was surprised at how accurately Dr. Schaeffer had described what is going on in this country, and others, in our own day.
He wrote, in 1984 (the year is interesting) that: “Something happened during the last sixty years—something which cut the moral foundation out from under our culture. Devastating things have come in every area of our culture, whether it be law or government, whether it is in the schools, our local communities or in the family. And these have happened within the lifetime of many who are reading this book. Our culture has been squandered and lost, and largely thrown away. Indeed, to call it a moral breakdown puts it mildly. Morality itself has been turned on its head with every form of moral perversion being praised and glorified in the media and the world of entertainment.” And, at this point in time, you could add the federal government to that list. Sounds just like today doesn’t it? And this was written over thirty years ago. While I might not totally agree with Schaeffer’s timeline for all this (I think it started earlier) the thing is that he has seen the problem. He noted the great burst of freedom brought about by the Protestant Reformation, and he said: “The freedoms which grew out of this were tremendous; and yet, with the forms grounded in a biblical consensus or ethos, the freedoms did not lead to chaos” as much of our so-called “freedom” today does.
And Schaeffer noted, quite accurately, that: “Sixty years ago could we have imagined that unborn children would be killed by the millions here in our own country? Or that we would have no freedom of speech when it comes to speaking of God and biblical truth in our public schools? Or that every form of sexual perversion would be promoted by the entertainment media? Or that marriage, raising children, and family life would be objects of attack? Sadly we must say that very few Christians have understood the battle we are in. Very few have taken a strong and courageous stand against the world spirit of this age as it destroys our culture and the Christian ethos that once shaped our country.” He noted that this is a “life and death struggle over life on this earth.” He asked also “Why has the Christian ethos in our culture been squandered? Why do we have so little impact upon the world today? Is it not because we have failed to take the primary battle seriously?” He asked penetrating questions—questions that most Christians today do not even begin to want to deal with. Having to wrestle with these things would require Christian responsibility and much of the church today is not having any of that. Years ago I spent a goodly amount of time in an evangelical church and looking at the things those folks didn’t want to deal with was an exercise in futility. In most cases, for some of them, it was much easier to just put the messenger out of his misery than it was to deal with anything he said. I recall, one time, they had a guest preacher for one Sunday morning (he never got an invite to come back) and he told the congregation, quite plainly, some of the issues they needed, as Christians, to be aware of and he named names as to people and organizations that were contributing to the neutralization of Christianity. You could feel the discomfort in the congregation. They didn’t want to hear it. One man said, on the way out, “we don’t need any of this right wing stuff.” Yes, you did need it, but you didn’t want it and it wasn’t “right wing stuff” it was the truth! I told the preacher as I was leaving “You didn’t make any friends here today.” I agreed with his comments and there was one other lady there that was not unsympathetic, but his sermon covered territory evangelicals should have known about and didn’t want to be bothered with. The rest couldn’t get out fast enough!
Sadly, this is where most of the church is today. If you try to give them any truth you are some kind of a “right winger” or even worse yet, you are being “negative.” And that’s the most cardinal sin in evangelicalism today—being “negative.” Many Christians would much prefer a lot of “lovey-dovey” nonsense than having to deal with the truth—because the truth is often negative and history is often a real mess, and yet we have to deal with what is, not what we’d like to have.
What Dr. Schaeffer may not have recognized, (at least he didn’t write about it) is that much of the horrible downturn in our culture has not been by accident or by natural degeneration, though that has occurred.
Look at the history of the public school system in this country since its inception. It was the creation of Unitarians and socialists and they had a worldview that contributed to the cultural downturn due to their anti-Christian worldviews. I have always found it interesting that one of the first things the federal government did in the South after they were victorious in the shooting part of the War of Northern Aggression was to bring the public education system, replete with Yankee/Marxist teachers, into the South to “educate” the “rebels’ children.” This was cultural genocide, still being practiced today, and it’s a real downer when it comes to uplifting the culture. This was not by accident.
And even in the 20th century, when the Frankfurt School and John Dewey were putting the final socialist touches on American public education—where was the Church? Why didn’t they have some clue as to what was going on? Did they even care? Because it seems that they had no clue, we have the educational mess we have today and sadly, many Christians rush to defend that against such “primitive” concepts at Christian education and home schooling. Yet another example of many Christians coming down on the wrong side of history. Instead of defending what the Church was doing, though the Church didn’t do it perfectly, they opposed it and stood up for what Marx’s disciples were planning for their children. When the pastor of your church comes to your house and tries to talk you into putting your kids in public school instead of giving them a Christian education at home, then you have to realize that the Church has major problems!
So you will have to pardon me if I ask “where was the Church all this time?” It seems we’ve mostly been out to lunch for the past 150 years! Please understand, there are exceptions to this, but unfortunately, not enough. Not what there should be. The leadership in this country, in just about all areas, is at war with the Christian faith and their agenda is to destroy it—and maybe replace it with the Muslim faith. I have to wonder when the Christians will wake up and smell the coffee.