Historic Christianity, biblical Christianity, believes that Christianity is not just doctrinal truth, but flaming truth—true to what is there, true to the great final environment, the infinite-personal God." Thus said the great prophet of the 20th century, Francis Schaeffer, whose 100th birthday we celebrate this year.
Central casting in Hollywood could not have produced a better character for the prophet's role: his trademark knickers, often straggling hair, goatee, and intense scowl. His voice may have been shrill at times, but his words were piercing. Those words spoke of what he called "true truth," and warned the church against succumbing to relativism, which—even back in the 1970s—had conquered academia and infiltrated broader society.
Schaeffer, with laser-like precision, hit upon the most fundamental issue of our day: The denial of "true truth" was not some passing academic fad. In both its post-Kantian and postmodernist garb, this denial detaches language from reality and leads to the kind of moral and spiritual relativism that is the current coin of contemporary discourse, especially in Europe and North America.
Schaeffer's message impacted both of us at formative stages of our Christian growth. We were stirred by his challenge for the church to be more than a safe haven for the saved, just a comforter of souls. We were moved by his call to bring Christian truth to bear in every aspect of human life, including literature, politics, and the arts.
Young people by the thousands, many of them refugees from the 1960s counterculture, responded to Schaeffer's call. They made the pilgrimage to his unique community at L'Abri, a word that means "shelter" in French. There they hiked the Alps, listened to Bach ...