The Apologist: Filter the Filtered

TV manipulates views just by its normal way of operating. Many viewers seem to assume that when they have seen something on TV, they have seen it with their own eyes. It makes the viewer think he has actually been on the scene. He knows, because his own eyes have seen. He has the impression of greater direct objective knowledge than ever before. For many, what they see on television becomes more true than what they see with their eyes in the external world.

But this is not so, for one must never forget that every television minute has been edited. The viewer does not see the event. He sees an edited symbol or an edited image of the event. An aura and illusion of objectivity and truth is built up, which could not be totally the case even if the people shooting the film were completely neutral. The physical limitations of the camera dictate that only one aspect of the total situation is given. If the camera were aimed ten feet to the left or ten feet to the right, an entirely different ‘objective story’ might come across.

And, on top of that, the people taking the film and those editing it often do have a subjective viewpoint that enter in. When we see a political figure on TV, we are not seeing the person as he necessarily is; we are seeing, rather, the image someone has decided we should see. …

With an elite providing the arbitrary absolutes, not just TV but the general apparatus of the mass media can be a vehicle for manipulation. There is no need for collusion or a plot. All that is needed is that the worldview of the elite and the world-view of the central news media coincide. —Francis, Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live

The Apologist: Absolutely!

Here is a simple but profound rule: If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute. Society is left with one man or an elite filling the vacuum left by the loss of the Christian consensus which originally gave us form and freedom in northern Europe and in the West. —Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?

The Apologist: The Real Chasm

A second problem of those who left the Presbyterian Church was a confusion over where to place the chasm that marks off our identity. Is the chasm placed between Bible-believing churches and those that are not? Or is it between those who are part of our own denomination and those who are not? When we go into a town to start a church, do we go there primarily motivated to build a church that is loyal to Presbyterianism and the Reformed faith, or to the Baptistic position on baptism, or to the Lutheran view of the sacraments, etc., etc.? Or do we go to build a church that will preach the gospel that historic, Bible-believing churches of all denominations hold, and then, on this side of that chasm, teach what we believe is true to the Bible with respect to our own denominational distinctives? The answers to these questions make a great deal of difference. There is a difference of motivation, of breadth and outreach. One view is catholic and biblical and gives promise of success—on two levels: first, in church growth and then a healthy outlook among those we reach; second, in providing leadership to the whole church of Christ. The other view is inverted and self-limiting—and sectarian.

As Bible-believing Christians we come from a variety of backgrounds. But in our moment of history we need each other. Let us keep our doctrinal distinctives. Let us talk to each other about them. But let us recognize the proper hierarchy of things. The real chasm is not between Presbyterians and everyone else, or Anglicans and everyone else, or Baptists and everyone else. The real chasm is between those who have bowed to the living God and thus also to the verbal, propositional communication of God’s inerrant Word, the Scriptures, and those who have not. —Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster

The Apologist: A Big Evangel Is Better than a Big Evangelicalism

What is the use of evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger if sufficient numbers of those under the name evangelical no longer hold to that which makes evangelicalism evangelical? —Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster

The Apologist: Materialistic Christians

Christianity is not just a mental assent that certain doctrines are true—not even that the right doctrines are true. This is only the beginning. This would be rather like a starving man sitting in front of great heaps of food and saying, “I believe the food exists; I believe it is real,” and yet never eating it. It is not enough merely to say, “I am a Christian,” and then in practice to live as if present contact with the supernatural were something far-off and strange. Many Christians I know seem to act as though they come in contact with the supernatural just twice—once when they arejustified and become a Christian and once when they die. The rest of the time they act as though they were sitting in the materialist’s chair.  —Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City

The Apologist: Reformation and Revival

The church in our generation needs reformation, revival, and constructive revolution.

At times men think of the two words reformation and revival as standing in contrast one to the other, but this is a mistake. Both words are related to the word restore.

Reformation refers to a restoration to pure doctrine; revival refers to a restoration in the Christian’s life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture; revival speaks of a life brought into its proper relationship to the Holy Spirit.

The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action so that the church has returned to pure doctrine and the lives of the Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation; and reformation is not complete without revival.

Such a combination of reformation and revival would be revolutionary in our day — revolutionary in our individual lives as Christians, revolutionary not only in reference to the liberal church but constructively revolutionary in the evangelical, orthodox church as well.

May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival, so that this poor dark world may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and Spirit-filled life. —Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City

The Apologist: When the Dead are Living and the Living are Dead

I remember hearing a certain existential theologian speaking some years ago. After he had finished, I overheard one old Christian saying to another, ‘Wasn’t it wonderful?’ The other answered, ‘It was wonderful, but I couldn’t understand it.’ True Christianity is quite different. When the Bible says, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,’ a child and a philosopher can understand that it means God created the heavens and the earth in antithesis to the idea that God did not create the heavens and the earth. It does not mean that we can plumb to the exhaustive depths of all God knows about this, but it does mean that the basic facts have been clearly expressed in terms of antithesis. With the paradox-ridden new liberal theology, statements have a way of seeing to be profound while actually being only vague. To get the full impact of this, just read a chapter in the works of B.B. Warfiled, J. Gresham Machen, Abraham Kuyper, Martin Luther or John Calvin, and then read a chapter by one of the existential theologians. —Francis Schaeffer, The Church Before the Watching World

The Apologist: Higher Criticism is Lower Scholarship

Before we take up the details, however, we must stress the fact and the reason that we reject liberal theology, old and new, is not that we are opposed to scholarship. Constantly through the years great Bible-believing scholars have engaged in what is usually called lower criticism–the question of what the best Bible text really is. It is natural that biblical Christians should find textual study important, because since Scripture is propositional communication from God to mankind, obviously we are interested in the very best text possible. Consequently, Christian scholars have labored through the years in the area of lower criticism.

Higher criticism is quite a different matter. Picking up where lower criticism leaves off, it attempts to determine upon its own subjective basis what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected after the best text has been established. The “new hermeneutic” is a case in point, for here there is no real distinction between text and interpretation; both are run together.

The real difference between liberalism and biblical Christianity is not a matter of scholarship, but a matter of presuppositions. Both the old liberalism and new liberalism operate on a set of presuppositions common to both of them, but different from those of historic, orthodox Christianity. —Francis Schaeffer, The Church Before the Watching World

The Apologist: An Explanation for 2016

We are surrounded on every side with the loss of truth, with the possibility of manipulation that would have made Hitler chuckle, that would have caused the rulers of Assyria to laugh with glee. And we not only have the possibilities for these manipulations, but people are trained on the basis of the loss of truth and the loss of the control of reason to accept them. —Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century

The Apologist: God and Country

In the United States many churches display the American flag. The Christian flag is usually put on one side and the American flag on the other. Does having the two flags in your church mean that Christianity and the American establishment are equal? If it does,  you are really in trouble. These are not two equal loyalties. The state is also under the norm of the Word of God. So if by having the American flag in your church you are indicating to your young people that there are two equal loyalties or two intertwined loyalties, you had better find some way out of it. The establishment may easily become the church’s enemy. Before the pressure comes, our young people (from kindergarten on), our older people, and our officers must understand this well: there are not two equal loyalties; Caesar is second to God. This must be preached and taught in sermons, Sunday school classes, and young people’s groups.

It must be taught that patriotic loyalty must not be identified with Christianity. As Christians we are responsible, under the Lordship of Christ in all of life, to carry the Christian principles into our relationship to the state. But we must not make our country and Christianity to be synonymous.  —Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century