I recently mentioned to my wonderful mother that I had not ever read anything by Francis Schaeffer. A few days later a box showed up at my house with all of the Schaeffer books that she owns. This is the first one I picked up and I was not disappointed.
It was first published in 1981 but it amazes me how it fully applies to the world that we live in today and how it could have very easily been written yesterday.
Schaeffer discusses the world in which we live and the Christian’s relationship to government, law, and civil disobedience.
It was never intended that religion should be completely removed from influence in civil government. Schaeffer first begins with the state of affairs. He posits that our founders had two purposes for the first amendment. First, there should be no established state religion; such as the Catholic or Protestant church. Second, the purpose of the First Amendment was the avoidance of just what is occurring today; which is the government impeding and interfering with the free practice of religion.
Instead, humanism has become the religion of the government and courts of America. The law, and especially the courts, is the vehicle by which those that are against God attempt to impose their views on the entire population.
For the uninformed, Schaeffer defines humanism. He distinguishes between humanitarianism, being kind and helpful to people, humanities, study of human creativity, art, and humanism, the philosophy of placing man at the center of all things. He further goes on to describe how humanists and materialism have hijacked our system. The constitution is now being used a means to justify any state action in overcoming religion.
However, the reality is that when the concept of inalienable rights was first stated in our founding documents, our founders knew from whom those rights came. A creator God. If those rights were only given by the state, then they would not be inalienable, because they could be changed or revoked. Humanists claim to push for freedom but they lack the required moral Christian consensus to contain it. This results in chaos or slavery under the state (or an elite) and greater state control. Schaeffer specifically mentions the way that Humanists have attempted to devalue human life, as in the case of abortion, euthanasia etc. Morally they do not have the right to do that. The humanist world is beating humanness to death.
So what is our role as Christians and how have we failed? First, we have failed by attempting to separate the spiritual and material world. There is no separation. Our spirituality is reality, as is our material nature, and nothing concerning reality is not spiritual. This must be our true perspective on reality.
“Our view of final reality-whether it is material-energy, shaped by impersonal chance, or the living God and Creator-will determine our position on every crucial issue we face today. It will determine our views on the value and dignity of people, the base for the kind of life the individual and society lives, the direction law will take, and whether there will be freedom or some form of authoritarian dominance”
Schaeffer argues that we, the church, have failed in this regard and we have forsaken our duty to be the salt of the culture. We must be committed as a church to take a stand against humanism, both on the side of conservatives and liberals.
He discusses the concept of civil disobedience and states that at a point it becomes not only a duty, but a right. He specifically references the concept of Lex Rex. If the law is king and is given by God, then it is the duty of Christians to resist the state attempts to act contrary to God’s law. Specifically when the state is deliberately committed to destroying its commitment to God. At that point its authority has become illegitimate.
“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the Living God.”
This is short, well written but easy to read and understand book for any Christian.
Francis Schaeffer calls for Christians to change the course of history by returning to biblical truth and by allowing Christ to be Lord in all of life.