Lessons from Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984)
1. Schaeffer had a deep passion for God and for truth. This came out of his intellectual conversion as a teenager, after he read both classical Greek literature and the Bible, as well as from his intellectual crisis that hit him after over a decade of ministry. Having not see the reality of Christian love and the work of the Spirit, he questioned everything for several months, yet returned stronger, spiritually and mentally to the task.
2. Schaeffer cared deeply about the lostness of modern people. NonChristians were not "objects" for this man of God, but image-bearers of God who were hopeless apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Schaeffer exegeted culture, he did so with an angle on how so much of culture reveals a lack of hope and meaning. In his apologetic conversations, Schaeffer would not cognitively spare with opponents, but try to lead souls to truth through love and reason--and not without tears, as he often said.
3. Schaeffer was an unapologetic generalist for the cause of Christ. He studied the areas he thought pertinent to ministry and the calling of the church in his day. While some wrongly took his judgments as the last word, they were almost always a vital first word and call to further study and prophetic engagement with the world under Christ.
4. Schaeffer was not a self-promoter, but sought God for life and ministry. The L'Abri ministry of apologetics, evangelism, and study in the Swiss Alps developed as Francis and Edit responded to the needs of questioning students. Later in his ministry, Schaeffer was sometimes promoted too heavily. This may have been the fault of his son, Franky, who produced the film series, "How Shall We Then Live?" and "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?" (Franky is a sad story. He went on to leave Protestantism for Orthodoxy and to write series of not-so-thinly disguised autobiographical/fictional works criticizing his parents and their religion.) Schaeffer never even planned to write books, but wrote when his lectures and discussion were so well received that books were requested.
5. Schaeffer loved the arts, could recognize aesthetic goodness even in nonChristian (or anti-Christian) art, and gave Christian artists permission and vision for artistic endeavor. On all of this see Art and the Bible, recently republished with a foreword by musician and author Michael Caird. He often spoke of bringing "beauty" into the Christian life.
6. Schaeffer had a deep knowledge of and love for Scripture. The Bible was a living reality for his man. He said in The God Who is There that we must be studying the Scriptures daily in order to present the truth to unbelievers. He himself read at least three chapters from the OT and one from the NT each day. His writings exude biblical truth and wisdom. Let us do likewise (Acts 17:11).
7. Schaeffer was "a man of the Reformation," who, nevertheless, was not doctrinaire or haughty about his Calvinism. Schaeffer realized that the Reformation was necessary and that we must remain "a reformed church always reforming." The Reformers, while hardly perfect, brought the Scripture back to its rightful centrality and also opened up social and cultural wonders for the West, as Schaeffer pointed out in How Shall We Then Live? and A Christian Manifesto. While Schaeffer believed in and taught The Westminster Standards, his appeal radiated far wider than Reformed and Presbyterian circles.
In a time when some, such as emergent author Brian McLaren, are calling us to be "post-Protestant," this means needs to be heard and headed. The Five Solas of the Reformation are not optional for Christianity, but are its life blood. Nevertheless, those who hold to the Five Points of Calvinism (the TULIP), as I do, should do so with conviction, but also humility. Five Pointers can and should work with Christians of other persuasions so long as the essential gospel is not compromised. (I believe some forms of Arminianism do this, however.) I worked with a committed Arminian for over three years of campus ministry.
Therefore, let read and reread Francis Schaeffer. I suggest you purchase The Collected Works and work your way through them--for the glory of God, for the good of his church, and for the furtherance of the Kingdom. If you think you have "no time" to read, then make time. Eliminate distractions and immerse yourself in these books.