Youth ministry is in trouble. Not only are most teenagers indifferent about Christ and the gospel, but youth ministers, by and large, have found themselves on the brink of exhaustion, toiling under the weight of unrealistic expectations, acute disappointment, and the perpetual onslaught of daily responsibilities. Add to these discouraging factors the crushing reality of broken homes, one’s regular exposure to unsavory features of youth culture, and the confusion caused by the current lengthening of adolescent development, and it is not difficult to see why Jeff Baxter, author of Together: Adults and Teenagers Transforming the Church, has raised the alarm.
Baxter is not just about sounding a warning; he desires to provide a solution to ailing youth ministries and youth ministers. He hopes to encourage youth pastors—and the church at large—to reconsider the goals and priorities of their current youth ministry and to recalibrate their efforts according to the biblical schematic. Specifically, Baxter wants to see students grow in genuine spiritual maturity, to be firmly integrated into the life of the church, and to have parents actively
involved in the discipleship process of their teenagers. Accordingly, Baxter develops his book by examining several important aspects of youth ministry. First, Baxter addresses the issue of adolescence and adolescent brain development (chapter 2). Next, he confronts issues related to age-segregation and parental involvement in the spiritual lives of their students (chapter 3). Baxter then surveys the cultural landscape, noting some of the central contours of our current age and how such realities impact students (chapter 4). In the latter half of the book, Baxter gives attention to the subject of leadership within youth ministry (chapter 5), evangelism in a changing culture (chapter 6) and the importance of simple discipleship (chapter 7). Baxter concludes the book with a brief parable, closing remarks, and collection of appendices for further evaluation and reflection.
Much of Baxter’s work is to be commended. He approaches the crisis of contemporary youth ministry with compassion for youth ministers and a desire to see students follow Jesus Christ in sincerity and growing maturity. ThroughoutTogether, Baxter offers helpful observations into the nature of modern youth culture and its effect on students, while providing practical insights for effective and godly leadership. Baxter also exhorts pastors to integrate youth into the greater church body so that students might learn and grow from their interaction with older and wiser Christians. Youth ministers are also admonished to prefer intentional discipleship over mere friendly, informal contact with students and to cultivate a healthy partnership with parents.
Despite these strengths, however, Baxter’s book falls short of delivering a robust theology of youth ministry due to his heavy reliance on the psychosocial category of “adolescence.” Adolescence is defined as “those in the period between puberty and adulthood, [and] the time when a child is growing up into a mature adult” (39). Baxter recognizes that the category of “adolescence” is a recent classification and attributes the emergence of this developmental phase to “biological and cultural influences” (40), and he believes that many teenagers are experiencing undue stress, loneliness, and suffering a lack of identity due to pressure to grow up too fast (42-44, 78, 79). As such, youth pastors must “take this specific phase of life seriously,” (40) and become “familiar with what is going on in teenage brains in order to disciple youth for Jesus Christ” (38)—effectiveness in ministry to youth will depend largely upon one’s familiarity with this cultural and biological phenomenon.
It is difficult, however, to discern exactly how the category of adolescence is expected to inform youth ministers. Baxter emphasizes that youth ministers must “limit the pressure” (50) on youth in light of their current situation. He states clearly that this does not mean that pastors are to lower the standards of Christian practice and belief as they pertain to youth (50), yet he does not provide a clear answer as to what it does mean to limit pressure on teenagers. In addition, his discussion throughout chapter 2 on deviant teenage behavior seems as if he has allowed the category of adolescence to provide excuses for teenage sin and rebellion. This concern is again found in Baxter’s chapter on the gospel in which little to no room is given to important issues of sin, repentance, justification, or sanctification (see 103–23).
Furthermore, in his insistence that teenagers are currently encouraged to grow up too fast, Baxter is not careful to identify the actual cause of teenage immaturity. Baxter argues that, “Today’s teenagers are faced with tremendous pressure to be ‘adult-like’ in their thinking and actions” (49). Requiring students to assume adult responsibilities such as “making car payments, grocery shopping, caring for younger siblings” impedes teenagers from growing at a “healthy developmental pace” (49). As a result, teens’ desire for independence often entices them to embrace “adult-like” behaviors such as smoking, sex, drinking and reckless driving (49). But is such foolish behavior really to be blamed on the expectation that teens should accept growing responsibility?
Baxter fails to ask whether lowering such expectations may actually perpetuate teenage immaturity and the kind of deviant behavior described above. Indeed, psychologist Robert Epstein has argued that the category of adolescence harms teenage development because it robs young men and women of the opportunity to accept greater responsibility and to temper their unruly impulses, thus keeping them from steadily growing into the adults they were meant to be (see, Robert Epstein, Teen 2.0). This is especially tragic because Baxter desires to see teens grow into adult maturity but clinging uncritically to the category of adolescence will hinder teens from doing just that.
[This review originally appeared in The Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry 2.2. and at FamilyMinistryToday.com]
Timothy Paul Jones—well known author, speaker, and seminary professor—recently launched his new website, TimothyPaulJones.com. At the site you can find access to several of Jones’ books and articles from his blog. Below are a few selections from the blog you might find helpful.
Who Decided Which Books Belong in My Bible?
Why Caesar Still Gets Your Taxes Even When Jesus Has Your Heart
Was the Gospel Based on Pagan Myths?
Gospel Centered Apologetics
The Coal Miner’s Daughter Meets the Minotaur: A Review of The Hunger Games
Who is Timothy Paul Jones? (From the Website)—My name is Timothy Paul Jones, and I love living in the city of Louisville with my wife and daughters. Over the past two decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading several congregations as a pastor and in associate ministry roles. Now, I serve as associate professor of leadership and as associate vice president for Global Campus at one of the largest seminaries in the world, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here, I invest my time in mentoring a rising generation of God-called ministers of the gospel. I also edit The Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry and write books in the fields of history, apologetics, and family ministry.
I enjoy spending time with my family, meandering along city streets, visiting baseball parks, drinking French-pressed coffee, eating locally-produced foods, and cooking for friends. My family is involved in children’s ministry at the east campus of Sojourn Community Church.
I recently reviewed Michael Kruger’s excellent new book, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, for the Gospel Coalition. Below is an excerpt and a link to the entire review. I highly recommend this book.
In his latest book, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of New Testament Books, Michael Kruger wants to know whether or not Christians have “intellectually sufficient grounds” (20) for accepting the current 27 books of the New Testament as inspired Scripture. More specifically, Kruger, associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, seeks to answer the objection that Christians “have no rational basis for thinking they could ever know such a thing in the first place” (20). In light of the confusion surrounding the origins of the canon in the early church, the argument goes, it appears unlikely that Christians can truly know (i.e. have intellectually justified belief about) what books belong in the New Testament. Kruger, however, argues cogently and persuasively that such an objection cannot withstand the weight of historical evidence, theological argument, or the testimony of Scripture itself.
You can read the whole review here.
In his helpful little book, The Fulfilled Family: God’s Design for Your Home, John MacArthur provides a list of ways parents may unintentionally provoke their children to anger. MacArthur encourages parents to recognize and avoid these potential pitfalls for the good of their children and for the general happiness of their homes. He also reminds parents that their child’s anger does not necessarily indicate that the parent is guilty of provocation; but parents who are responsible for inflaming their child’s anger are doubly guilty, for “[They] [n]ot only violate their duty as parents, but they also cause their own children to stumble” (109).
So how do parents needlessly rouse their child’s anger? One way is by excessive discipline. MacArthur writes, “I have known parents who seemed to think that if discipline is good for a child, extra discipline must be even better. They constantly waved the threat of corporal punishment as if they loved it. No parent should ever be eager to punish. And no punishment should ever be brutal or bullying. Parents should always administer discipline with the good of the child in mind, never more than necessary, and always with love” (109).
Another way parents can provoke their child’s anger is by way of inconsistent discipline. Here a parent may lazily allow several infractions to go unpunished, grow frustrated, and then lash out at their children. But this kind of inconsistency will cultivate both anger and confusion in the child since they can rarely know what to expect from their parents in terms of discipline.
Parents can also aggrivate their children with unkindness—making mean-spirited comments to their son or daughter both publically and privately—and by showing favoritism toward one child against the other.
Some parents are guilty of overindulgence–giving a child everything they desire without providing any boundaries. But MacArthur comments, “Research from many different sources shows that children who are given too much autonomy feel insecure and unloved. No wonder. After all, Scripture says parents who let their children misbehave with no consequences are actually showing contempt for the child (Prov. 13:24). Children know that instinctively, and it exasperates them” (111).
The opposite of overindulgence is the tendency toward overprotection, where parents do not allow the child legitimate and age-appropriate freedom. ”That’s a sure way to provoke a child to frustration,” MacArthur avers, “make your child despair of ever having any liberty at all unless he or she rebels” (111).
Constant pressure to achieve can provoke children to anger. MacArthur warns, “If you never praise your kids when they succeed but always drive them to do even better next time if you neglect to comfort and encourage them when they fail; or, worst of all, if you force your children to try to fulfill goals you never accomplished, they will certainly resent it” (111). Although it is natural for a parent to desire their child to work hard and to excel, such desires must be balanced with patience and wisdom.
Finally, parents often provoke their children through discouragement. ”[N]eglect, constant criticism, condescension, indifference, detachment, cruelty, sanctimoniousness, hypocrisy, a lack of fairness, or deliberate humiliation” can all cause profound discouragement in children. It is no wonder why Paul instructs us in Colossians 3:21, “Father, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (emphasis original).
It is easy to forget that a significant aspect of our duty as parents is to guard our children from cultivating anger in their hearts. We help our children in this regard by not only instructing them about the dangers of bitterness, resentment, and unrighteous wrath, but by taking care how our words and actions—or lack thereof—may nurture irritation and rage rather than patience and love.
”Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
If you are a parent of children old enough to play sports, chances are they have experienced some kind of athletic competition—even if it is only in the living room with dad: wrestling, tossing the orange sphere into an over-sized hoop, conducting reenactments from the latest football game, or perfecting their swing with a big red bat and round white ball. And, if you are hoping to turn athletic engagement into an opportunity to instruct your children about hard work, humility, respect, selflessness, and what the gospel teaches us about sports (and, for that matter, what sports teach us about the gospel—which is, incidentally, quite a lot), then you probably have your ears and eyes trained to recognize moments when the professional sporting community is blessed with athletic talent that is—get this—equaled and even surpassed by one’s commitment to Christ.
Over the past two weeks, the world has been introduced to Jeremy Lin—the undrafted, previously unheard of, unlikely guard for the New York Knicks. Having initially come into the league without a full contract, Lin’s last six performances have at least a few general managers on the phone with their scouts, wondering why they didn’t snag this kid when they had the chance. Last night’s performance was the apex in a series of games in which Lin has shown tremendous skill and maturity, tallying stats like a 5-year marquee veteran, and with requisite poise. In last evening’s contest between New York and Toronto, with only ten seconds remaining and score tied at 87—and with an unhurried posture that made you think it was normal for him to sink game-winners—Lin pulled up and busted a long-range three from atop of the key, securing the win over a stunned Raptors squad.
But who is Jeremy Lin? If we began his biography by noting that he is a Christian, some of us, jaded by years of observing professing Christian athletes smear the name of Christ with grossly materialistic and immoral lifestyles, might ignore or even despise such a designation. But like his cross-sport counterpart, Tim Tebow, Lin appears to be the genuine article. His Christianity—that is, his unswerving commitment to Christ—supersedes his commitment to sports. But such an arrangement of priorities doesn’t dampen Lin’s ability to lead and serve his team: the stats, of course, speak for themselves, and when asked about his current place in the spotlight, Lin replies,
It’s not because of me, it’s because we’re coming together as a team,”…”We started making these steps earlier but we were still losing close games and so obviously it wasn’t fun. But when you win, that solves a lot of problems. We’ve been winning and we’ve been playing together. (Quote taken here from USA Today)
Lin’s testimony is also encouraging. In an online video, Lin, commenting on the apostle Paul’s pursuit of the heavenly prize in Philippians 3:15, remarks that he eventually learned to end his quest for personal glory. Instead, Lin now seeks to play hard, submit his desires and dreams to God’s will, and entrust the outcome to the Lord’s sovereign hand. Encouraging testimony from one who has persevered through significant uncertainty pertaining to his career as a professional basketball player. (Click here for more on Lin’s testimony.)
We can be thankful God’s work in men like Jeremy Lin. And when, in God’s providence, genuine Christian athletes encounter great success, we can also use such opportunities to point our children toward Christ. Granted, the earthly success of public Christians does not constitute the only—or even primary—moments for teaching our children about Jesus. But when they occur, we should be ready to guide our kids toward heroes whom they can truly admire, and whose lives adorn the gospel both on and off the court.
But we would be remiss if we allowed the lessons to end here—to let our children think that public Christians like Jeremy Lin are immune to failure and sin. Competing in professional sports while maintaining an uncompromising stance against the world and its values is anything but easy. Athletes who have taken an open stand for Christ are in desperate need of our prayer, and our children are in desperate need to hear that public success does not guarantee faithfulness to God, nor does it propel a Christian beyond the need for God’s sustaining grace. If we are careful to teach both lessons to our children, they might begin to not only admire great Christian athletes, but intercede for them as well.
[This article originally appeared here at FamilyMinistryToday.com.]
The turn of the new year is, for many, a time of reflection and life evaluation. Often, our self-appraisals result in the making of personal resolutions. A few years ago, shortly after I first discovered Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions, I was prompted to write some resolutions of my own. The result was a collection of verbose, lofty, practically impossible, yet well-intentioned commitments. O how I needed to hear the admonition, “Mountains were meant to be admired, not imitated!” The point of the analogy: humans cannot, no matter how hard we try, imitate mountains; we should just stand in awe of their grandeur and beauty.
After I finalized my resolutions, I set out to keep them. It was not long before I became frustrated, spiritually dry, and left with the sickening feeling that I was attempting to be someone I was never meant to be—Jonathan Edwards. So, I am fully aware of the temptation, out of a sincere desire to pursue hard after Christ, to take on too much discipline and to make admirable—yet highly impractical—resolutions. I know how easily zeal can shed the bridle of knowledge.
It is with this in mind that I would like to encourage you to keep two simple resolutions this year: daily Bible reading and prayer. Granted, the whole of the Christian life is not found in only keeping these two disciplines, but when I consider this new year, my past failures in maintaining resolutions, and my personal desire to grow spiritually in 2012, no other disciplines appear more foundational than these. These two practices seem to be the spring from which all other disciplines are nourished. In his excellent book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney quotes Carl Lundquist as he explains the importance of these two disciplines:
John Wesley emphasized five works of piety by adding fasting. The medieval mystics wrote about nine disciplines….Today Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, lists twelve disciplines—all of them relevant to the contemporary Christian. But whatever varying religious exercises we may practice, without the two basic ones of Emmaus—prayer and Bible reading—the others are empty and powerless (66)
I concur. Psalm 19 reminds us of the spiritual value of God’s Word. It is perfect, so it revives the soul (v.7a); it is sure, so it makes wise those who are simple (v.7b); it is good, so it rejoices the heart (v.8); it is pure so it enlightens the eyes. In the Scripture we find wisdom to guide us, commands to instruct us, warnings to advise us, stories to encourage us, and truth to sustain us. It is in the Word that we behold the glories of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18). It is by this Word that we will be made more like Him (John 17:17).
Prayer is how we request wisdom (James 1:5), how we search after the illumination of the Holy Spirit to aid us in understanding God’s Word (Psalm 119:33-34) and how we intercede for others (I Timothy2:1-3). It is how we confess our sins (I John 1:10), how we seek help in times of trouble (Psalm 50:15), how we ask for God’s will to be done in the world (Matthew 6:10) and how we, along with Moses, plead with God to show us His glory (Exodus 33:18).
This is certainly not to dissuade you from establishing other goals this year; it is only to encourage you to stop, consider, and perhaps, reevaluate your approach. Have you made list of well-intentioned, yet unreasonable resolutions that you probably will not keep? Have you forgotten what is most important? If so, slow down for a moment and ponder these two simple resolutions.
When we are in the midst of controversy, there are two temptations that can easily encroach on our souls: pride and self-righteousness. When we are convinced of the truth and see clearly the errors of another, it is very easy to be tempted to look down on that person (or group of people) and feel good about our ‘discernment’ or ‘clear-mindedness.’ But Martyn Lloyd Jones helps us to avoid these two temptations and approach controversy in a way that honors Christ and is good for our soul.
May He enable us together to stand as a rock in the raging seas all around us. We must, of course, never pride ourselves on our stand, or become self-righteous or small minded persons. But in humility and obedience, let us follow the apostolic exhortations, always coming to know more deeply our glorious God, remembering that He has redeemed us, and aware of what a glorious faith it is to which He has called us to bear witness (Knowing the Times, 60).
Is this easy? No. Some of us are too easily attracted to controversy and debating and arguing—often times for the wrong reasons. But Lloyd Jones helps us fix our gaze on the right object: the ‘glorious faith to which we have been called to bear witness.’ In this way, we enter into debate with others—not for the sake of controversy, but to clarify and defend truth for God’s glory and the good of others.
In his excellent book, The Forgotten Spurgeon, Iain Murray focuses on an aspect of Spurgeon’s life that has been overlooked in recent times: Spurgeon’s faithful commitment to Bible doctrine, primarily the doctrines of free grace and God’s sovereignty in salvation. These theological commitments, however, often put Spurgeon in the midst of controversy. Toward the latter half of the book, Murray gives us four valuable lessons we can learn from Spurgeon’s approach to controversy.
1. First, there is evident in all the major controversies in which he was involved a pastoral concern for the spiritual welfare of men and women. Thus in the first great controversy, while accepting the Christian standing of some who could not receive the doctrines of free grace, Spurgeon saw how a general toleration of errors respecting those doctrines injured the prosperity of the Church and the progress of the gospel (197).
2. Secondly, Spurgeon engaged in controversy with great faith in God, and with a sense of his duty to do God’s will whatever the outcome (202).
3. Thirdly, the various controversies of Spurgeon’s life are unified when we see them as parts of his total commitment to the Word of God. This perhaps is his greatest legacy…A zeal which is confined to certain aspects of scriptural teaching is the consequence of an unworthy view of the Word of God, and from such an inconsistency Spurgeon continually sought to escape (203).
4. Lastly, Spurgeon reminds us that piety and devotion to Christ is not a preferable alternative to controversy, but rather it should-when circumstances demand it-lead to the second. He was careful to maintain that order. The minister who makes controversy his starting point will soon have a blighted ministry and spirituality will wither away. But controversy which is entered into out of love for god and reverence for His Name, will wrap a man’s spirit in peace and joy even when he is fighting in the thickest of battles (205).
In the next few days we will hear from Martyn Lloyd Jones, John Newton, and John Owen in their approaches to controversy so that we might be better equipped as servants of the Word: ministers who diligently cultivate the essential qualities of theological competence and pastoral tenderness—each without any expense to the other.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.—II Timothy 2:24-26
Francis Schaeffer’s enduring influence upon evangelicals and evangelicalism cannot be overlooked. In great measure, Francis Schaeffer taught evangelicals the value of intellectual engagement. While in Europe, Schaeffer began to see the fault of fundamentalism lying primarily in its strident separatism. As he would interact with young unbelievers who were persuaded by nihilism, atheism, and existentialism, Schaeffer learned that merely attacking liberalism and other evangelicals was less than profitable. He needed to provide a positive response to modern philosophies and thoughtfully interact with opposing ideas on the level of world-view so unbelievers could see the incoherence of their positions and subsequently embrace the truth of Christianity.
Schaeffer’s desire to demonstrate the reasonableness of Christianity to unbelievers led him to begin to think more and more about how world-views had played a significant role in the formation of Western thought and culture. As such, Schaeffer sought to engage with and think critically about past and present culture; not for its own sake, but so he might listen to the voice of those who were drowning in meaninglessness because they had embraced a world-view that erased the existence of a personal God—a world-view that inevitably led to the loss of a sense of humanness and overall purpose.
Schaeffer’s endeavor to wrestle with ancient and contemporary culture, especially in the realm of ideas and world-view, would have a tremendous influence on how Christians thought about and interacted with culture. Ronald Nash summarizes his impact in this area well when he writes,
Francis Schaeffer was the instrument through whom hundreds of thousands of people became conscious of [the] intellectual dimension of the Christian faith, of the importance of philosophy, of the significance of world views and their presuppositions, of the message that ideas have consequences (Parkhurst, 69).
Among these hundreds of thousands to be profoundly influenced by Schaeffer would belong Christian apologists, philosophers and authors. Nancy Pearcy, popular editor and author, tells of her trip to L’Abri and how she was immediately intrigued by Christians who were engaged with the intellectual and cultural world. As she read works by Christian apologists and interacted with Schaeffer and others at L’Abri, Pearcy interacted with many good and sufficient arguments that did much to challenge her unbelief (Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth, 55). Pearcy would eventually embrace Jesus Christ and a biblical world-view.
Pearcy also notes how Schaeffer provided her and other Christians with the apparatus with which to properly enjoy and accurately evaluate culture. She writes,
There is no need to avoid the secular world and hide out behind the walls of an evangelical subculture; instead, Christians can appreciate works of art and culture as products of human creativity expressing the image of God. On the other hand, there is no danger of being naïve or uncritical about false and dangerous messages embedded in secular culture, because a worldview gives the conceptual tools needed to analyze and critique them (Pearcy, 56).
Pearcy here testifies to what Barry Hankins believes was Schaeffer’s “signal achievement and most lasting influence;” namely, the “important task of world-view formation” (Hankins, 227).
On the other hand, we would be remiss if we did not reflect here on what motivated Schaeffer in his whole enterprise. It was not merely an interest in ideas; it was love for people. Bryan Follis guards us from turning Francis Schaeffer into a stuffy, intellectually smug apologist when he writes, “To understand Schaeffer, we need to understand the love he had for the individual person” (Follis, Truth with Love, 53). Love for others appeared to free Schaeffer to engage the surrounding culture for the sake of people’s good and salvation. As Schaeffer traveled to America and shared his message with young evangelicals, his point was unmistakable in this regard. Barry Hankins notes,
…[Schaeffer’s] message to American evangelical college students was that to be effective witnesses they would have to move beyond fundamentalist separation from secular ideas and beyond mere denunciation of liberals. Instead, evangelicals needed to take their ideas seriously and to understand and engage their culture (Hankins, 233).
Schaeffer would not merely seek to understand and exhibit the impotence of unbiblical world-views; he would sympathize with and weep over those who struggled desperately with the essential questions of life—even if their answers came in the form of unbelieving, incoherent philosophy, art, and poetry—and he encouraged following generations of evangelicals to do the same.
Up to this point in his life, Schaeffer had remained aloof to political activity. He would become convinced, however, that political involvement was the only logical step given his theory that the decline of Western thought and morality was due to departure from biblical presuppositions (Hankins, 175). Schaeffer was especially alarmed by the legalizing of abortion, stating that such legalization was arbitrary, both legally and medically; further governmental authoritarianism would be the consequence if Christians did not resist the trend represented by Roe v. Wade.
All of this effort against abortion aimed directly at secular humanism. Secular humanism, Schaeffer was convinced, was antithetically opposed to biblical Christianity, and, if allowed to take root, could usher in a situation where a few elite policy writers would fill the vacuum left by the disappearance of transcendent absolutes with arbitrary rules and regulations (Hankins, 177-180), Against this very real threat of authoritarianism Christians had to fight.
Schaeffer’s effort against abortion expressed itself in another film and book, co-authored with C. Everett Koop, entitled, What Ever Happened to the Human Race. In both the book and the film, Schaeffer argued that the disappearance of a Christian base in the West had led the adoption of a humanist foundation; the remedy was the reestablishment of the Christian base that had been lost in the twentieth century as a result of the ideas of the Enlightenment that had spread throughout the culture (Hankins, 188). As the book and the film graphically describe the process of abortion, Schaeffer observed that clear phrases like “ending a pregnancy” were only a disguise for what was actually occurring; namely the killing of a human being (Hankins, 181).
Schaeffer and Koop’s endeavor to startle sleeping evangelicals into action apparently worked. Prior to 1980, very few Protestant denominations sought involvement in the abortion problem, considering it a problem with which the Roman Catholic Church had taken issue. In 1980 the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), for example, established pro-life resolutions aimed at stopping abortions. Key leaders within the SBC had read Schaeffer and testified to Schaeffer’s influence on this vital issue. According to Hankins, “[Schaeffer’s] push against abortion certainly helped fuel the evangelical pro-life movement” (Hankins, 182).
Schaeffer followed What Ever Happened to the Human Race with A Christian Manifesto. Schaeffer’s burden in the latter book was to help Christians understand their relationship to the government, law, and civil disobedience. Like the books that had come before, Manifesto was a book of worldviews. In introducing his plea for Christians to stand against secular humanism, Schaeffer began his argument by noting how pietism—that form of Christianity that emphasizes the experiential component of the faith—had served to divorce facts and ideas from the realm of experience and thus relegated Christianity to the sphere of the private and subjective. This unfortunate consequence of pietism, Schaeffer argued, allowed secular humanism to develop a strong foothold; Christians were to stand against development by seeing Christianity not merely as an experience, but as a worldview that makes sense of all reality (Hankins, 196-197).
In regards to the question of civil disobedience, Schaeffer believed it was the responsibility of Christians to resist the state when officeholders became tyrannical, although the general demeanor of Christians should be one of submission. Schaeffer was also reluctant to advocate the use of force—even on the issue of abortion. Legislative action, sit-ins, political pressure, and quiet demonstrations should be the primary way in which Christians should seek to influence the government and the change of laws (Hankins, 208).
Schaeffer wielded significant influence in the political realm, just as he had previously in the area of Christian apologetics and evangelical engagement with culture—the latter area undoubtedly related to his political involvement as well. According to Colin Duriez, Schaeffer’s three books, How Shall We Then Live, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, and A Christian Manifesto,
…substantially helped created a new Evangelical Right in America. Certainly, joining the pro-life lobby identified Schaeffer with America’s Religious Right, which was able to exercise considerable political clout during the Reagan era (Duriez, 191).
Schaeffer would continue his labors despite the fact that two years earlier (in 1978) he had been diagnosed with cancer. With treatment, Schaeffer’s cancer retreated into remission for a season, while he continued to write and speak at various venues around the United States and spend time at L’Abri. On May 15, 1984, however, only two years after publishing a five volume set of his complete works, Francis Schaeffer died at his home in Rochester, Minnesota.
Next: Conclusion: Schaeffer’s Lasting Influrence