Authentic ChristianityWednesday, March 23, 2011
Months ago, I began a journey through the works of Francis Schaeffer beginning with the book True Spirituality. I've also been writing about that over at crosswalk the devotional. There is still time to join the journey, and I hope you will.
As C.S. Lewis once said: "First-hand knowledge [of great authors] is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire." 1
In other words, you'll probably enjoy Francis Schaeffer and get much more out of reading him than reading my reflections on Francis Schaeffer. But it is not just your fulfillment in reading a great man that's at stake. Schaeffer's message is a good one. It's a much-needed remedy for the low condition of joy and genuine faith that seems to plague this generation.
And Schaeffer knows something about that. He went through a long period of being a joyless Christian.
In 1971, Schaeffer published True Spirituality to help people experience the reality of Christ in daily life. Not just at the moment of salvation. At first, his book was a series of Bible lessons. He taught them to his family and students who gathered regularly in their home in the Swiss Alps. But before they ever became that set of lessons to others, Schaeffer first taught them to his own heart.
Before Schaeffer ever became the famous author and Christian leader that he eventually became (and prior to the time that L'Abri began), Francis went through a very dark period lasting several months. He was troubled by the discrepancy that he saw in himself between the large amount of Bible data he knew and claimed to believe and the lack of genuine spiritual joy in his life.
Over those months as he walked in the mountains, Francis rethought his reasons for being a Christian and, at last he…
"…saw again that there were totally sufficient reasons to know that the infinite-personal God does exist and that Christianity is true.
"In going further, I saw something else which made a profound difference in my life. I searched through what the Bible said concerning reality as a Christian. Gradually, I saw that the problem was that with all the teaching I had received after I was a Christian, I had heard little about what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives.
"Gradually the sun came out and the song came. ...and although I had written no poetry for many years, in that time of joy and song I found poetry beginning to flow again—poetry of certainty, an affirmation of life, thanksgiving, and praise. Admittedly, as poetry it is very poor, but it expressed a song in my heart which was wonderful to me." (from True Spirituality, p. 196 in the complete works of francis schaeffer, vol. 3 © 1982 Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois).
Francis Schaeffer saw and believed that the finished work of Christ really is the source of the Christian's daily life. He grew deeply convinced that the Christian life is not just about conversion, but about moment-by-moment living out of the grace of God today, in the present by the power of the Holy Spirit.
While what I've been writing at Crosswalk the Devotional faithfully summarizes Schaeffer' message, I suspect that my writing carries only a fraction of the impact that reading True Spirituality would have upon you. God has used this book to shed light and build faith in the hearts of many for years. And as C.S. Lewis said, there really is something special about reading the greats for yourself. Only then can you experience the transforming progression of Schaeffer's argument, the clarity of his thought, and his wise use of Scripture and illustrations throughout his book.
Think about it: If it suddenly became possible for you to be personally mentored by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, would you take that opportunity? In a way, you can. Pick up True Spirituality, then follow with us on the trail of his thought.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Imagine that a friend or family member is called upon to testify of the presence of spiritual reality in your life. What evidence do you think they would give?
Think through the reasons why you became a Christian. Reflect on what it means to have an authentic relationship with the infinite-personal God who is there.
1. Quoted from C.S. Lewis's introduction in Athanasius', On the Incarnation, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press: Crestwood, New York, 1993, p. 3).