Francis Schaeffer And The Central Problem of the Church

Francis Schaeffer is quickly becoming one of the most influential voices in my life.  I was exposed to much of his writings in seminary, but now find myself revisiting them as I continue to grasp the intergration of Church, culture, and faith.  Schaeffer was way ahead of his time and his writings have proven to be classics in the sense that they transcend his time.  Schaeffer’s writings are very accessable for people of all educational backgrounds and I would highly recommend everyone read his works.  He will be a tremendous help seeing your worldview from an outside perspective and allow to think beyond it.  Here is one quote I came by today that was especially worth considering.

The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us.  All these are dangerous but not the primary threat.  The real problem is this:  the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit.  The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.

Pay real close attention to the last sentence. It precisely nails why much of the church is futile in it massive array of campaigns, programs and events.  Why the church seems to spin it wheels in its engagement of the culture. Our western corporate mindset drives us to act, plan and measure with quantifiable metrics.  Our fight is not one of flesh and blood but one of the spirit.


9 Responses

  1. “Our western corporate mindset drives us to act, plan and measure with quantifiable metrics. Our fight is not one of flesh and blood but one of the spirit.”

    So what is the alternative? More prayer, and reading the Bible more?

  2. I love Schaeffer, and have a poster of that guy on my wall. What book is this quote from?

    His writing helped me greatly when I was sharing the Gospel in Scotland.

  3. Powerful.. Any suggestions on books to read by him?

  4. Adam- I should have been more clear on that point. I do not think all metrics or measurements are bad. Obviously more people loving Jesus is better than less people loving Jesus. The point is that the Western mindset has a propensity to lean to strongly into competency, and business methods over a humbled heart that waits for a filling of the Holy Spirit to do God’s work. Often our over reliance on “proven methods” is a way to minimize the need for the Holy Spirit and control results through our own efforts. Even like the apostles we are sometimes called to wait in the metaphorical “upper room” of life, for the Holy Spirit to fill us before we move on with our lives and ministry.

    Tom- The quotes is from page 65 of “No Little People.” The chapter is a sermon he gave entitled, “The Lord’s Work In The Lord’s Way.”

    Draper- I would recommend “No Little People” for a good start for reading Schaeffer. Many people go right to his book “How Should We Then Live” but I actually think people should read his book “The God Who Is There” first.

  5. Thanks Ryan…I was not debating or anything, but I think there will always have to be a tension between pure community of the spirit and monolithic organization. Neither one seems to function very well on its own. Trying to find that balance is so frustrating sometimes.

  6. Hey Adam I was going to write a post on this but I really just wanted to hear your opinion and that of your fellow business school peers.

    What is going to be the long term effects of having a national deficit of over 10 trillion dollars? I mean I am sure the economist are aware of this, and its being talked about in the business academic world, but how does this end? Doesn’t China eventually call in their debts and collapse our country? In addition, isn’t close to 8% of our national budget no going to just paying on that debt? So many questions, just looking for a rational view.

  7. I would read “the God who is there”, “Escape from Reason” and “He is there and He is not silent”. They are three of his books that compliment each other quite well.

    I haven’t read the book “no little people”, but now i must!

  8. Thanks for the input Tom, I have “Escape From Reason” on my stack and will bump it up a few books so I can get to it sooner.

  9. schaeffer is the man, thanks for the great quote (the below from psalm 127 is similar to this theme).

    unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
    unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

    if you don’t mind I’ll take a stab at your deficit inquiry. the sources I have read (i always like to put a plug in for The Economist), say that while 7% deficit to gdp is high, it is better than a potential severe depression. as well, a large chunk is from the treasury stabilization plan, which will most likely make a few bucks (similar to the government stabilization after the s&l crisis in the late 80’s). a bright point is that our total debt to gdp ratio is actually 20% less than it was about 10 years ago (it was higher in large part from the s&l stabilization).

    as for china calling in the debts, we are fortunately “too big to fail” as far as the world economy is concerned. we have basically abused this status to fund the american aristocratic lifestyle (who else is going to buy 20%+ of china’s exports? heaven help us when there is an answer to that question.) additionally, the u.s. has a high degree of credibility for paying its creditors. this is magnified by the current economic climate; nearly all major countries are strapped with stabilization plans, the imf is even having to step in to prop up some countries. all that to say, u.s. treasuries are still a safe-haven for foreign money.

    i am not trying to make a large deficit a light matter, just trying to show that we’ve been here before in the recent past. if their is a silver lining, it’s that democrats will be unable to go crazy with social programs and it will force something to be done about social security and medicare sooner (as there will be less room to take on debt to prop these programs up, not that debt ceiling will help in the case of medicare, it’s gonna be bankrupt in 10 years.)

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