Sunday, 26 November 2017

Francis Schaeffer - Volume 3: Spirituality

I'm going through a Schaeffer phase on my Sunday evenings. I have to admit that this third volume took me longer to finish than it should have because I put it down for a few months as it felt very samey.  This volume contained four books, but really the last two are essay length. Overall the main emphasis in this book was on the Holy Spirit and prayer, two points I probably don't focus enough on.

No Little People
This book was originally some sermons that were then compiled into this book. The main idea is that with God, there are no little people, for God can use anyone. There were a few chapters where it would look at a character or thing from the Bible such as Moses' staff/rod, Joseph, The Ark, David, Elijah and Elisha and how God used them. These examples were to show you that God uses His people, that God is gracious and cares for His people.

The chapters didn't much build upon each other and they did feel a little long. If I was going to re-look at this book I would most likely jump to the conclusion to each of the chapters.

True Spirituality
Although I did have a break from reading Schaeffer during this book, I found that when I picked it up form my break I was thinking that this book was gold. Schaeffer seeks to explain what it is like to live a Christian life. This isn't about how someone is saved and now they get to go to Heaven, it is about how you live in the time between those two points.

This book came from his own personal crisis of faith where he questioned everything from the existence of God down. He saw there was a problem with the cultural Christianity around him, where people we Christians, but they had no joy and didn't speak like they were very friendly or happy about God.

Schaeffer states that True Spirituality isn't about being born again, it starts there, but it is much more than that; it isn't just an outward way of life but an inward one; and that it is a positive reality.

The book starts by drawing a distinction between justification and sanctification and it turns its attention on the Spirit and His work in the believer's life. We are now able to live a life free from the bonds of sin.

The second section of the book dives into the results of being free from the bonds of sin. Since sin affects every part of a person, being free from the bonds of sin has far-reaching effect on a personal level. Schaeffer sees that sin separates you from your conscience, your thought life and your whole being, which naturally flows outward and separates you from your relationships around you. Once you are saved, and free from the bonds of sin, we can now live a whole life, not separated internally or with those around us. We now have a consistent worldview, are living how we are meant to live and not exerting ourselves over those around us.

I found some very helpful observations about human nature in this book, particularly in the second section. I thought this was the best book in this volume.

The New Super-Spirituality
This was a short essay on how Schaeffer saw the shifting religious landscape of his day. He saw a general rise in wealth and a decrease in intellectual Christianity. There has been a push back against strong legalism into something that he coined as Platonic spirtuality, of which people test their faith based on their own personal experience and feelings and not on truth. He has even seen some smaller almost cult-like groups from out of this movement which ends up being more legalistic than the previous generation (where you are not allowed to talk to family and the elders of the group get the pick who you marry). This new super-spiritual movement has an overemphasis on asceticism and not the body, a discouragement of asking intellectual questions and a focus on the spectacular and extraordinary.

Schaeffer then offers some suggests for the church of his day to deal with this, of which he said not to overreact and push back too hard on this. Instead, the church should, as normal, continue to teach it's doctrines in right portion to each other. The church should still remember that those who are saved are really in the family of God and we should treat them with love, that we should be open to hearing the deep questions of the day, allowing for not just feeling to rule but also our reason and truth to as well.

This does conclude with a good definition of the Christianity:
Christianity is not only intellectual, nor is it only your cultural responsibility. Christianity is being born again on the basis of the finished work of Christ, His substitutionary death in space-time history. Christianity is the reality of communion with God in the present life; it is the understanding that there is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; it is the understanding that there is the moment-by-moment empowering of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” It is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is meant to mean something real to all Christians. It is the understanding that prayer is real and not just a devotional exercise.

Two Contents, Two Realities
This was a paper Schaeffer wrote for some international evangelism conference. He saw that the church today needed two contents: sound doctrine and honest answers to honest questions; and two realities: true spirituality and the beauty of human relationships.

The two contents are pretty clear, the church shouldn't move from the Bible and it needs to face up to the questions people today are asking and giving Biblically informed answers to those questions. To complement these two contents, the two realities of gives life to the doctrine. It is one thing to have the intellectual knowledge, but it is another thing to really know them and to live and feel the truths of that knowledge. This is what Schaeffer wants. He wants people to really feel and live in the propositional truths of the Bible and for fellow Christians to live in unity and harmony (or in beauty) with each other.

This is really the calling of the Church, true doctrine and true community.


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