It is sobering to see how quickly those who have contributed so much to life and culture in our world are nearly forgotten by the generation that succeeds them.
It calls to mind the rather haunting reference to the dead in Psalm 103 – ‘and its place remembers it no more’. Yet that is what so often happens, not least in Christian circles, with men and women of the faith who have done so much within their lifetimes to shape the church and world of their day, and leave their mark on following generations.
This could certainly be said about the late Francis Schaeffer. It is perhaps for him exacerbated because he so much eschewed the limelight and public recognition. But for the generation that knew and heard him, read his books and saw his films, he was a vital component in shaping their faith and challenging the culture of their day.
This volume is the fruit of a conference held in North Carolina in 2008. It is comprised of edited versions of addresses given by the four speakers. Each of the four – Udo Middlemann, Jerram Barrs, Ranald Macauley and Dick Keyes – had a personal involvement with Schaeffer and are able to bring a personal flavour to the reflections they offer on his life, work and legacy.
Middlemann deals with ‘Schaeffer the man’, Barrs with his apologetics, legacy and influence, and Keyes with ‘Sentimentality: significance for apologetics’, in which he deals with the impact of Schaeffer’s thought and work on a key issue that has had a damaging effect on culture and Christianity.
Many similar notes reverberate through the five chapters of the book – in particular, Schaeffer’s passion for apologetics as a means of evangelism and his passion for people that went hand in hand with this. Coming through too is Schaeffer’s desire for a living faith that was intellectually robust and equipped to engage with the issues shaping culture.
The net effect of this little volume is to take us far beyond a nostalgia trip. It is to challenge a new generation to carry on Schaeffer’s work in the face of our own challenges. This is a world that has outwardly changed, but at heart is no different from what it has always been – in rebellion against God and in denial about itself.