Christians have always wrestled with the question of how to live in and engage most faithfully the culture around us. That challenge has, perhaps, never been more difficult than it is at this moment. The moral and intellectual foundations of Western nations, and those influenced by them, are currently changing at an unprecedented velocity. This change is taking place before watching eyes to an extent that is largely misunderstood and vastly underestimated.
Some prophetic voices recognized the scale and scope of the intellectual changes taking place in the West. One of them was Francis Schaeffer, who was one of the 20th century’s most significant apologists — an eccentric and magnetic figure who helped an entire generation of struggling young evangelicals find their way into biblical Christianity. Schaeffer served as a prophet of cultural engagement during an age of rebellion among America’s youth, and he shaped the thinking of an entire generation of theologically minded Christian young people.
Francis Schaeffer spent most of his ministry educating Christians about the worldview shift that was taking place around them as most people moved from a vaguely Christian worldview to one that was thoroughly secular. This new worldview was based on the idea that final reality is impersonal matter or energy shaped into its present form by impersonal chance.
Significantly, Schaeffer observed that Christians in his time did not see this new worldview as taking the place of the Christian worldview that had previously dominated European and American cultures either by personal conviction or cultural impression. These two worldviews — one generally Christian and the other barely deistic — stood in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in natural results. These contrary ways of seeing the world would lead to disparate convictions on matters ranging from abortion to sexuality, economics to politics, as well as legislation and public policy.
Schaeffer’s legacy of faithfulness still benefits the believing church. His theological acumen coupled with his rich intellectual gifts and apologetic zeal give his writings a uniquely powerful appeal. These qualities are also the reason his books continue to endure and be read by countless Christians who are seeking to understand the culture around them. This issue of Southern Seminary Magazine explores Schaeffer’s legacy in hopes that readers will continue to benefit from his work. Our aim is not just that you would become more familiar with Schaeffer, but better equipped to defend the gospel more faithfully in your neighborhoods and among the nations.