The Christian system is consistent as no other system that has ever been. It is beautiful beyond words, because it has that quality that no other system completely has—you begin at the beginning, and you can go to the end. It is as simple as that. And every part and portion of the system can be related back to the beginning. Whatever you discuss, to understand it properly, you just go back to the beginning and the whole thing is in its place. The beginning is simply that God exists and that He is the personal-infinite God. Our generation longs for the reality of personality, but it cannot understand it. But Christianity says personality is valid because personality has not just appeared in the universe, but rather is rooted in the personal God who has always been.
All too often, when we are talking to the lost world, we do not begin at the beginning and therefore the world stops listening. Without this emphasis on personality we cannot expect people really to listen, because without this the concept of salvation is suspended in a vacuum.
If we understand this, we understand the meaning of life. The meaning of life does not end with justication, but is seen in the reality that when we accept Christ as our Savior in the true biblical sense, our personal relationship with the personal God is restored. Every place we turn in Christianity we find that we are brought face to face with the wonder of personality—the very opposite of the dilemma and the sorrow of modern man who finds no meaning in personality. Consider the words of Paul, ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.’ It is the personal to which we are brought. First of all there is the personal relationship with God Himself—this is the most wonderful, and is not just in Heaven but is substantially real in practice now. When we understand our calling, it is not only true but beautiful—and it should be exciting. It is hard to understand how an orthodox, evangelical, Bible-believing Christian can fall to be excited. The answers in the realm of the intellect should make us overwhelmingly excited. But more than this, we are returned to a personal relationship with the God who is there. If we are unexcited Christians, we should go back and see what is wrong. We are surrounded by a generation that can find ‘no one home’ in the universe. If anything marks our generation, it is this. In contrast to this, as a Christian I know who I am; and I know the personal God who is there. I speak, and He hears. I am not surrounded by mere mass, nor only energy particles, but He is there. And if I have accepted Christ as my Savior, then though it will not be perfect in this life, yet moment by moment, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, this person to person relationship with the God who is there can have reality to me. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There
Nevertheless, he [modern man] faces a very real problem as to the meaning of love. Though modern man tries to hang everything on the word love, love can easily degenerate into something very much less because he really does not understand it. He has no adequate universal for love.
On the other hand. the Christian does have the adequate universal he needs in order to be able to discuss the meaning of love. Among the things we know about the Trinity is that the Trinity was before the creation of everything else and that love existed between the persons of the Trinity before the foundation of the world. This being so, the existence of love as we know it in our makeup does not have an origin in chance, but from that which has always been. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There
The God who is there according to the Scriptures is the personal-infinite God. There is no other god like this God. It is ridiculous to say that all religions teach the same things when they disagree at the fundamental point as to what God is like. The gods of the East are infinite by definition—the definition being ‘god is all that is’. This is the pan-everything-ism god. The gods of the West have tended to be personal but limited; such were the gods of the Greeks, Romans and Germans. But the God of the Bible, Old and New Testaments alike, is the infinite-personal God. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
Probably the best way to describe this concept of modern theology is to say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith directed to an object which is actually there. Some years ago at a number of universities I spoke on the topic, ‘Faith v. faith,’ speaking on he contrast between Chrsitian faith and modern faith. The same word, faith, is used, but it has an opposite meaning. Modern man cannot talk about the object of his faith, only about the faith itself. So he can discuss the existence of his faith and its ‘size’ as it exists against all reason, but that is all. Modern man’s faith turns inward.
In Christianity the value of faith depends upon the object towards which the faith is directed. So it looks outward to the God who is there, and to the Christ who in history died upon the cross once for all, finished the work of atonement, and on the third day rose again in space and in time. This makes Christian faith open to discussion and verification. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage‘s total chance music, as he was bowing to acknowledge the applause there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musiaans behind him who were hissing. Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience boo at him they are, if they are modern men, in reality boomg the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
[C]hristianity is not romantic; it is realistic.
Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer. For example, in the realm of morals, Christianity does not look over this tired and burdened world and say that it is slightly flawed, a little chipped, but easily mended. Christianity is realistic and says the world is marked with evil and man is truly guilty all along the line. Christianity refuses to say that you can be hopeful for the future if you are basing your hope on evidence of change for the better in mankind. The Christian agrees with the people in genuine despair that the world must be looked at realistically, whether in the area of Being or in morals. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There
These paintings, these poems, and these demonstrations which we have been talking about are the expressions of men who are struggling with their appalling lostness. Dare we laugh at such things? Dare we feel superior when we view their tortured expressions in their art? Christians should stop laughing and take such men seriously. Then we shall have the right to speak again to our generation. These men are dying while they live; yet where is our compassion for them? There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There
In our modern forms of specialized education there is a tendency to lose the whole in the parts, and in this sense we can say that our generation produces few truly educated people. True education means thinking by associating across the various disciplines, and not just being highly qualified in one field, as a technician might be. I suppose no discipline has tended to think more in fragmented fashion than the orthodox or evangelical theology of today.
Those standing in the stream of historic Christianity have been especially slow to understand the relationships between various areas of thought. When the apostle warned us to “keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world,” he was not talking of some abstraction. If the Christian is to apply this injunction to himself, he must understand what confronts him antagonistically in his own moment of history. Otherwise he simply becomes a useless museum piece and not a living warrior for Jesus Christ.
The orthodox Christian has paid a very heavy price, both in the defense and communication of the gospel, for his failure to think and act as an educated person understanding and at war with the uniformity of our modern culture. —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There